What is it and how can it improve your well being
Manual lymphatic drainage is a unique and special type of gentle massage technique that encourages the functioning of the lymphatic system through increasing the flow of lymph fluid. It is used by specially trained therapists to help speed up the removal of toxins and waste from the lymphatic system as well as preventing and reducing swelling in the body and providing an overall boost your immune system.
At the start of the 19th century, people started to investigate the lymphatic system and yet the first detailed map was only first published in 2015. Since then it has recently been updated as lymph vessels have been found in the brain.
It is funny to think of how little has been paid attention to it in the past now that we know how important it is for our function and how beneficial it is to address it in the process of evaluation and diagnosis of one’s health state, as well as focusing on it in treatment plans. The Lymphatic Drainage Technique is a wonderful treatment and a great diagnostic tool for multiple systems in the body.
What is our lymphatic system?
The lymphatic system is a network of pipelines similar to the cardio-vascular system with one very important difference; it does not have a pump such as the heart. It purely relies on our movement (kinetic system) and the inner pressure of the vessels affected by the fluid pressure in it.
The lymphatic system is responsible for removing toxins and waste from our body. It also plays a major role in our immune system by transporting white blood cells to injury sites and by creating lymphocytes (immune system cells). It plays an important role in creating homeostasis in our body by balancing the fluid in the body.
Since the lymphatic system produces and transports hormones it affects multiple functions in our body such as stress responses, digestions and others.
What affects the lymphatic system?
Due to its important functions, its connection to a few major systems in the body and the fact that the lymph runs everywhere in our body, there are multiple factors that can affect it for better or worse.
We can improve our lymphatic circulation by adding more movement to our daily routine, drinking more water, having intermediate showers (warm/cold), dry brushing our skin, making dietary adjustments and having lymphatic massage. At the same time, we can suffer from blockages and dysfunctions in the system as a result of various habits, traumas, health issues and lifestyle.
We can slow down the lymphatic fluid flow by sitting too much, consuming lots of products that are weighting down the system (such as too much meat and dairy, gluten for some people, toxins like caffeine in big amounts), medication for long periods of time and wearing narrow and stiff shoes day after day.
The manual lymphatic drainage technique (MLD)
The MLD treatment begins approximately 2 hours before the actual session, at home, by drinking big amounts of water and avoiding food. The session will include questions regarding your overall health and issues that you’ve noticed, even if they don’t seem related. The next step would be a basic test to see if more water is needed and once the amount of fluids is sufficient the diagnostic treatment can begin.
The next step is positioning. The practitioner will organise the treatment table in a way that will allow you maximum comfort and easy elevation of the limbs with pillows and rollers, as well as multiple covers to enable exposing specific areas of the body whilst keeping the others warm.
The practitioner will evaluate the condition primary to the treatment and will decide what should be addressed. Next, they will stimulate the kidneys for a few minutes so the lymphatic manipulation can begin. The practitioner will spend a few minutes stimulating each major centre of lymph nodes until it will feel functional enough to continue. It’s not painful at all and quite relaxing. The gentle pumping movements increase the function of the lymph nodes which is usually followed by pleasant chills and the feeling of the flow.
The practitioner will direct the lymphatic fluid to the optimal route, considering the individual goals and restrictions. While doing so, they will notice all the blockages that need to be addressed and will discuss them with you. Moving and redirecting the fluid manually is done mostly on a superficial level by slow gentle movements.
Due to the sensation of easy flow of liquid in our body, combined with the relaxation message sent to the nervous system, you will usually experience a deep relaxation sensation, almost like floating. It is common to feel the urge to run to the toilet once or twice during the treatment or to feel very cold or very hot. You should feel comfortable in asking for an extra blanket, having one removed or asking for a toilet break.
When the treatment is done you might feel light-headed and thirsty. Sit up carefully, drink some water and finish the session with a short conversation. The practitioner will let you know what has been done and will advise you on what to expect over the next couple of days as well as discussing if there is any need for follow-up treatments.
So when should you see a MLD practitioner?
- To speed up recovery after an illness
- A boost to your immune system
- If you want to reduce stress levels
- To aid in nervous system relaxation
- As a part of rehabilitation after surgical procedures
- During pregnancy and post-partum
- As a complementary part of a detox process
- If you have a high-volume sitting lifestyle
- For those with a high sensitivity to pain
- To reduce swelling in limbs or face
- Cosmetic purposes such as face, hips, thighs and stomach sculpturing or weight loss.
- To assist with stomach bloating
- If you have chronic pain syndromes
It’s safe to say that manual lymphatic drainage should probably be a lot more widely spread and performed due to its importance in your overall well-being. It is needed more than ever now since we sit so much, move so little, stress too much and don’t drink enough water.
As it is such an amazing diagnostic tool that can help you ‘connect the dots,’ it makes it even more fascinating since you never know what you might find out and learn about yourself, your body and your well-being. It’s equally thrilling both for the client and for the practitioner performing it, thanks to this element of surprise.
Don’t hesitate any longer. Try it and see for yourself!
If you want to know more about how manual lymphatic drainage can address your individual needs or you would like to book an appointment, you can call us at Centre 4 Health on 9193 2170 or book online here.
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Manual Lymphatic Drainage