MLD is an amazing advanced therapy. It has many applications and is very gentle to receive. It is simple and complex at the same time. The practitioner uses a range of specialised movements that move and stretch skin in the direction of lymphatic flow. The movements are repeated many times. They are slow and rhythmical and speed up the activity of the lymphatic system. The effects are far-reaching. For such a light and gentle treatment to have such profound effects is truly phenomenal.
To experience, MLD is not like massage. The pressure is light, not deep. It is about moving skin not pressing into the muscles. There is an effect on the parasympathetic nervous system which is very calming. The effect can be quite soporific. So other than relaxing a person, what can MLD achieve?
MLD is vital in the treatment of lymphoedema and lipodema. MLD helps to get the excess fluid out of the tissues and back into the lymphatic system by moving fluid across watersheds to undamaged areas of the body, where it can be taken up. When MLD, is combined with compression therapy you get the dramatic results sometimes seen on the internet, or in specialist books on the subject - dramatic before and after treatment pictures.
MLD is safe throughout a womans pregnancy - safe for mother and safe for baby. As well as not being detrimental, it is enhancing because it is congestion reducing. As long as pre-eclampsia is ruled out, MLD is the treatment of choice for puffy eyes, puffy ankles and tired, swollen legs in pregnancy. It can help make pregnancy induced carpal tunnel manageable, and is another good preparation for labour tool because of its calming and soporific effect.
MLD pre-and post operatively. Swelling is a natural result of tissue damage after an injury or an operation. MLD intensively before a major operation can stimulate the lymphatic system, and clear up any existing congestion, thereby increasing the effect of any post-operative MLD. A lymphatic system that is running well will cope with the post operative swelling better than a sluggish one. After an operation (or even an injury) the part of the body with a lot of swelling and trauma is struggling to deal with the excess fluid. MLD can move the excess fluid to other parts of the body, where the undamaged or un-overloaded lymphatic system can take it up. This reduces the congestion at the local lymph nodes. Overall the MLD can help remove the anasthestia, and debris from the system faster. At a mirco-level rubbish is cleared away faster, swelling is reduced, pain is reduced, comfort is increased and so healing is speeded up. (This applies to breaks, fractures, torn ligaments and sprains as well) Operations for which it might be particulary helpful include hip and knee replacements, cosmetic surgery, and cancer operations.
The touch receptors in the skin send messages to the brain when stroked, and these messages flooding in, during a treatment can block the messages from the pain receptors. In fact the whole nervous system is calmed during an MLD treatment, and this can help reduce pain, and "pain memory". This means that MLD can have a pain-relieving or pain reducing effect. It is certainly worth a try for many conditions as only a few conditions are absolutely contra-indicated (see Contraindications)
MLD is profoundly relaxing and therefore stress reducing. Often specific or general stress feeds into whatever "archilles heal" we have, exacerbating it. Some people are just so busy dashing about they never stop and listen to their body so it could be argued that any treatment that means they lie down for an hour and stop is beneficial. Add to that the soporific effect of MLD, the meditative state induced by massage and reflexology and we have treatments that can break the adrenalin cycles of stress, type A personalities and being too busy. MLD treatments allow that little time-out. MLD teaches the body a different state of being.
Children are welcome to have MLD treatments. These tend to be shorter than for adults, and can help a range of problems from glue-ear, to run down immune systems and constipation. If I am treating children I will usually ask the parent to stay.
In the early 1930's Dr Emil Vodder created a unique series of light massage-like movements, that included massaging lightly over the cervical lymph nodes, and found that they "cured" a range of problems. By the 1950's he and his wife Estrid were educating the European world on lymphology and teaching MLD. They called upon their friend Gunther Wittlinger to continue educating the world on the lymphatic system and the benefits of MLD. Gunther and his wife Hildegaard continued to treat and educate. Hildegard and her family continue to run the Vodder school, treating clients with lymphoedema and training MLD therapists around the world.
The lymph nodes are part of the lymphatic system and they filter the lymph on its journey back to the heart. Because of this MLD has an effect on the immunological defences of the body, thus a by-product of MLD can be a stronger immune system. This can be very helpful when people are run down, for example after a major illness or stress
The aim of MLD is to get bodily fluids moving, either to accelerate the flow or because they have become stuck, for whatever reason. Thus MLD eliminates waste products from the connective tissue and improves the metabolic interactions. This is why it can help so many conditions ME, carpal tunnel, arthritis, rosacea, acne and other skin conditions. This is also why it is useful as an adjunct when doing a "detox", and why it is a useful treatment in tandem with weight-loss programmes.