MANUAL LYMPH DRAINAGE- a therapy for the 21st Century
As we go about our daily business we may from time to time consider our digestion; how lively or tired we are feeling; or wonder why our shoulders feel stiff and consider if that work-out in the gym the previous evening really did us any good. What we don’t ask ourselves is “how is my lymphatic system coping today?” And yet without a good performance from our lymphatics our body will be running well below par causing tiredness aching muscles bloating poor digestion irritability poor immunity breathlessness chronic fatigue – the list is endless.
The lymphatic system is closely associated with the circulatory system and is found throughout the body. Its primary function is to drain lymph from the cells and tissue and carry it back to the main venous circulation. The term lymph comes from the Latin ‘lympha’ which means water. Lymph which consists of water, electrolytes, white blood cells including antibodies, and large protein molecules including toxins, viruses, bacteria, and foreign particles flows very slowly within the body aided by muscular movement and breathing. Treatment that can encourage lymph flow helping in the clearance of toxins from the body and strengthen the immune system is called Manual Lymph Drainage.
No, this has nothing to do with drains taps or plumbing and it is sometimes necessary to explain that to clients considering this therapy. To the contrary, MLD is a very gentle, very slow and relaxing body treatment and once experienced all misconceptions quickly vanish.
Manual Lymph Drainage in various guises has been around a long time. The ancient Greeks were aware of a system carrying what we now call lymph within the body in 300BC and over the years since then various parts of the jigsaw have been put together until Alexander Winiwarter, a Belgian surgeon, introduced a series of manual lymphatic drainage movements in hospitals for draining lymphatic oedemas around the late 1800’s.
Since then Emil and Estrid Vodder developed a technique based on Winiwarter’s work during the 1930’s; John and Judith Casley-Smith pioneered their own system independently in Australia called CPT – Complex Physical Therapy in 1980’s, and in 1990’s Bruno Chikly a French doctor identified the specific rhythm of lymphatic flow. New technology in the USA has produced the Light Beam Generator (LBG) which improves the benefits of MLD by separating unhealthy randomly bonded proteins which cause blockages, by ionising them with electrons.
There are four specific lymph drainage movements which are very different to those of Swedish massage in that the massage is slow with repetitive light and rhythmical movements, at approximately one stroke per second. The therapist’s hands move the skin of the client with a gentle “on/off” pressure phase to each stroke, taking into account the direction of flow of the lymph under the hands. This type of massage stimulates the lymphatic vessels to contract in a more organised way.
Practitioner Surrey/South London area
January 2004 Connections Journal Issue No. 44 Scotland