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Manual Lymphatic Drainage

Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) is a specialized massage technique designed to help relieve swelling and congestion in the lymphatic system by encouraging the lymph nodes to operate smoothly. The technique is often used in conjunction with massage to relieve symptoms of inflammation and encourage circulation in the lymphatic system. Issues stemming from congestion in the lymphatic system can cause a wide variety of health-related issues, including fatigue, pain, allergies, digestive issues, skin conditions, and impaired immune system functioning. Book an appointment or contact the Urban Massage & Wellness team to learn if MLD can help improve your health and wellbeing.

What Is Manual Lymphatic Drainage Treatment?

Traditionally, manual lymphatic drainage was used to treat individuals suffering lymphedema or general edema. Today, we know that manual lymphatic drainage, or MLD, has benefits for many conditions and chronic syndromes. MLD is effective for anyone suffering from fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndromes, various skin conditions, as well as many other conditions.

MLD treatments are gentle, with a very light “stretch and twist” sensation on the skin. The technique uses a light amount of applied pressure and directional movements to various parts of the body where the lymphatic system can be accessed. You’ll also be encouraged to practice deep breathing techniques to help you relax and to encourage additional movement in your lymphatic system. You’ll feel deep relaxation, pain relief, and minimal swelling after an MLD session. 

Benefits Of Manual Lymphatic Drainage:

Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) was originally used to treat patients with lymphedema. Over the years, MLD has been found effective in treating many other health conditions, including:

  • Edema (swelling)
  • Chronic venous insufficiency
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Inflammation
  • Skin conditions (such as acne, rosacea, wrinkles, cellulite, stretch marks)
  • Digestive issues, including IBS, Crohn’s disease, and chronic constipation
  • Chronic pain, headaches, and migraines
  • Allergies, asthma, and other respiratory conditions

MLD can also help to reduce overall levels of stress, relieve symptoms of menopause, reduce fatigue, and improve the overall function of the body’s immune system. 

As an added benefit, MLD is known to create a deep level of relaxation or rejuvenation after treatment. Clients report they either sleep longer because they feel so relaxed or sleep a little less because they have more energy.


Manual Lymphatic Drainage FAQs


What is the lymphatic system?

Although it is essential for health and wellness, many people are not aware of how the lymphatic system functions in the body.

The lymphatic system is made up of the spleen, tonsils, thymus, lymph vessels, and hundreds of lymph nodes spread throughout the body. The entire system is responsible for draining fluid (lymph) from your tissues back to the bloodstream. Lymph carries white blood cells through the body, which is essential for excellent immune functioning. It also transports bodily waste to the appropriate organs to be removed from the body.

What does drainage mean?

The lymphatic system is a circulatory system that transports excess fluid (or lymph), bodily waste, and white blood cells back into the bloodstream. However, unlike the circulatory system, there is no central “pump” to move lymph through the lymphatic system. Instead, it requires movements such as gravity or pressure. In manual lymphatic drainage, the drainage part is carried out by the manual and muscular contraction of lymphatic vessels by a trained therapist. Once there is movement in the lymphatic system, it will engage other organs, such as the kidneys, to remove waste from the body.

What Causes Lymphedema?

When the body suffers an injury or inflammation, the body has several natural reactions. One body response is for blood vessels to leak fluid, causing surrounding tissues to swell. This swelling reaction is known as edema. 

Lymphedema occurs when tissues around the lymphatic system swell in response to damage to the lymph nodes. This type of damage typically happens after lymph nodes have been removed or injured as part of cancer treatment or in the treatment of an infection. When the lymphatic system is damaged, it cannot drain properly, causing swelling in the system. Lymphedema can occur in the extremities, trunk, and face, and can be treated with MLD.

What Are the Risks of Manual Lymphatic Drainage?

Manual lymphatic drainage is a very gentle massage technique that poses few risks. If you have an area of your body that is swelling with no known cause, you should consult your medical professional before booking an MLD appointment. If you have an active lymphatic infection or you’re at high risk for blood clots, you should also consult your medical professional before making an appointment.

Massage treatments of any type are typically not recommended for anyone with:

  • Broken, fractured, or fragile bones
  • Burned skin or open wounds
  • Those taking blood-thinning medication

Some minor symptoms may also be experienced after an MLD treatment, including minor aches and pains and fatigue. These typically resolve quickly and leave you feeling restored within a day.

What can I do at home to help between appointments?

The massage movements and pressure required for manual lymphatic drainage should only be practiced by a fully trained professional. However, you can practice deep breathing techniques at home to promote lymphatic movement and relaxation. Regular exercise, drinking plenty of fluids, and avoiding tight clothing or jewelry can also help promote better drainage. Ask your massage specialist at Urban Massage & Wellness for other tips during your next appointment.

Who is not suited for manual lymphatic drainage treatment?

MLD is suited for individuals with lymphatic swelling or other bodily swellings. The treatment is a light, stretching touch on the skin. Anyone with deeply tense muscles or a sports injury might want to try a firmer style of massage. If you’re not sure which type of massage service is right for your condition, ask our professionals. We’re happy to answer all of your questions and provide a detailed treatment plan that makes sense for your health goals! 

How do I Book a Manual Lymphatic Drainage Appointment?

If you’re experiencing discomfort, pain, or a weakened immune system, book an MLD therapy session with a fully-trained expert at Urban Massage & Wellness. We are St. Albert’s highest-rated massage clinic, and we are proud to offer our clients relief, comfort, and hope with all our treatments. You can schedule your appointment today using our convenient online booking system. 

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