What To Expect In a GOOD Manual Lymphatic Drainage Session…

You’ve probably heard of Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) and wondered if this specialized treatment might be beneficial to you or a loved one. Keep in mind that your lymphatic system is your body’s waste disposal system and the lymphatic fluid carries waste products from the tissues to the lymph nodes where your body can process the fluid and eventually eliminate it. MLD is a manual manipulation of the skin in gentle, rhythmic, circular strokes that stimulates the major concentrations of lymph nodes and the natural moment of lymph towards those lymph nodes in order to process the lymph and eventually eliminate the waste from the body. Doctors frequently recommend MLD treatments to their patients who are preparing for surgery and/or recovering from surgery or patients who are dealing with lymphedema. MLD has also helped clients who are looking for assistance with detoxification, arthritis, gout or immunity care.

There are so many locations that offer MLD, so how do you know where to go or how to choose the right provider?

First and foremost, you want to look for a therapist who is certified in MLD. This takes hours and hours of training and costs thousands of dollars, but the in-depth training is well worth it and makes an enormous difference in the outcomes of the treatment.

The next thing you want to do is ask your therapist if they can give you a brief description of their treatment plan during the session. That description should include the following:

  1. With the client prone (face up) on the table, the therapist will begin the session by using circular strokes to stimulate (open) the supraclavicular lymph nodes located right above the collar bones, just at the base of the neck towards the mid-line of the body.
  2. The therapist should use similar circular strokes to open lymph nodes located in the following areas of the body: directly in front and behind both ears, in the armpits of both arms, in the elbows of each arm, in the abdomen and along the lower line of the rib cage, in the groin area, and on the back of the knees.
  3. The client will be asked to turn over face down on the table so that rotary strokes can be applied across the back of the body, drawing fluids to the front of the body. Strokes should move fluid from the mid line out with a very gentle touch to the skin. Almost no pressure should be felt from the therapists touch.
  4. The client is then moved back to the prone position (face up) and rotary, rhythmic strokes are again used to move fluid along the lines of the lymphatic system towards those main lymph nodes (knees, groin, abdomen, armpits, from the ears down) and finally ending with the supraclavicular lymph nodes once again.

Obviously, that’s a simplification of the entire treatment, but it gives you a general idea of what should happen and what to look for in a qualified, well-trained therapist. Some clients report experiencing a tingling feeling during the treatment as fluid begins to move. Others report feeling a deep relaxation as the rhythmic strokes relieve the pain and pressure of swelling in tissues.  Many clients feel an urgent need to urinate immediately following the treatment and this is a good sign. That increased need to urinate may continue for a couple of days after the treatment.music for spa massage

Keep in mind that if you do a few things before and after your treatment, you’ll get better results and feel much better following the treatment! Here are three key things for you to do to get the most from your session:

  • make sure you are hydrated! Drink plenty of water before your session and following your session. Good hydration helps thin lymph fluid that may have become viscous (thick or sticky) and makes it easier for the body to eliminate the lymph fluid.
  • one of the best ways to stimulate the lymphatic system and keep it functioning in a healthy way is for you to move your muscles. This doesn’t have to be extreme exercise – a few minutes walking, swimming, biking, or lifting light weights each day can create a significant benefit to your lymphatic system’s overall health. Even a few minutes of bouncing on a trampoline or small rebounder is a great way to keep your lymphatic system functioning at a higher level.
  • incorporate dry brushing into your daily routine. Using a small, soft bristle brush, you use small strokes along the skin starting from the extremities and moving towards the supraclavicular nodes of the body. These brushes can be purchased on Amazon and there are lots of YouTube videos that demonstrate exactly how to do this at home. Adding this to your MLD session can greatly increase the function of your lymphatic system.

Armed with this basic knowledge of your lymphatic system, what to look for in a good MLD session and how to support your lymphatic system at home, you can enjoy the significant benefits of Manual Lymphatic Drainage. As your lymphatic system starts to function at a higher level, you will reduce swelling and pain and experience greater energy and freedom in movement. Reach out if you have any questions or would like to schedule a session with me!

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