Get Your Lymph Moving!
By Kana Moll LMT, MLDT
It has been a long cold and flu season. Thankfully, the days are getting longer and we hope the sunshine will zap the “crud” away. Alas, with Spring comes allergies. Are you still feeling sluggish after recovering from the “crud”? Are you fearing the onslaught of pollen allergy symptoms? Are you feeling down just thinking about it? Maybe you have thought about improving your cardio-vascular fitness as the weather improves? But there is another system in your body that could probably use some work as well: your lymphatic system. Perhaps it’s a good time to make an appointment to treat your lymphatic system with Manual Lymph Drainage. Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD) is a gentle, relaxing type of bodywork known to promote healthy lymphatic flow and improve immune function. Whether you are seeking treatment for lymphedema, or you are in good health and simply seek relaxation, MLD can be enjoyed by most everyone.
What is the Lymphatic System?
The lymphatic system is an essential structure of our immune system. It is the transportation system of the nutritious fluid that bathes the cells throughout our body. A vast network of tiny lymph vessels lie directly under the skin, collecting metabolic wastes, fats, proteins, excess fluid, viruses, and bacteria from the spaces between the cells. Larger lymph vessels slowly transport this fluid to the numerous lymph nodes throughout our body where lymphocytes are produced to fight harmful agents like viruses, bacteria and cancer cells. After the lymph fluid has been filtered through the lymph nodes, it is recycled back into the blood system.
Unlike the vascular system that has a powerful heart to act as the pump, the lymphatic system is slow. Lymph transportation relies on a series of mechanics; peristalsis (smooth muscle contraction) of the lymph vessels, valves, force of compression on its walls during adjacent skeletal muscle contraction, respiration, and arterial pulsation.
Inactivity, injury, and illness can impair the lymph transportation system, which can tax our sense of health and well-being. In some cases, a significantly damaged lymphatic system can result in accumulation of fluid, protein, and cellular waste leading to the condition known as lymphedema.
What is Manual Lymph Drainage?
Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD) or lymphatic or lymph massage is a gentle, relaxing form of therapy that specifically addresses the lymphatic system of the body. Recipients often describe their MLD experience a deep state of relaxation, feeling “lighter” and “pure”. Our trained therapists employ the Vodder and Foeldi methods, which entail a series of very light, slow, rhythmic strokes that gently stretch the lymph vessels directly under the skin to encourage the proper flow of fluid and waste through the lymph vessels. Because the focus is on the lymphatic system underlying the skin, the level of pressure is superficial. The massage directs fluid towards healthy lymph nodes in the face, neck, abdomen, armpits, and groin areas. If you are familiar with deep tissue bodywork, the delicate touch may initially feel like nothing is happening, but there are great health benefits ranging from a boost in immune function, soothed soreness, reduced swelling, relieved fatigue…
The National Lymphedema Network advises Manual Lymph Drainage should be avoided or administered only in consultation with a physician in the following cases:
· Lymphedema patients who develop a sudden, marked increase in localized swelling.
· Patients with a sudden onset of lymphangitis (an infection).
· Patients who are at increased risk for blood clotting, or susceptible to deep-vein thrombosis.
· Patients who have congestive heart failure.
· When indeterminate pain is present.
If you have been feeling sluggish, perhaps after recovering from illness or injury and are interested in MLD to give you a boost, don’t hesitate to ask us about lymphatic massage. It is gentle, yet deeply relaxing, and can have a powerful impact on your body’s ability to heal.