top of page

Manual Lymphatic Drainage

There are many reasons for the lymphatic system to be sluggish and not function well, leaving static fluid in the tissues. Pollution, toxins, poor nutrition, mucous formation, overload from previous viral or bacterial infections etc. All these things can give rise to cellular stagnation. 

The aim of the MLD therapist is to bring balance to the tissues. If there is too much fluid in the tissues, they become soft and spongy to the touch. If excess fluid is present it can interfere with cell nutrition - oxygen and nutrients will take longer to pass through the tissues and get from the bloodstream to the cells through the interstitial fluid.

Manual Lymphatic Drainage is a light technique, not to be confused with Lymph Drainage Massage offered by Swedish massage or sports massage therapists which can consist of deep pressure, heavy and larger techniques, which do influence lymph drainage as it increases the circulation of blood to that area but may not be suitable for someone who has a compromised lymphatic system and is not nearly as effective in moving fluid as MLD. MLD will remove fluid from the tissues without first bringing an extra load to the area in the form of circulation. 


Regular MLD sessions help to keep lymph moving and stimulated, encouraging whatever vessels are present and intact to work well. It allows the body to Open up other pathways - collateral vessels and anastomoses. These are the body's natural backstop in event of tissue overload, but sometimes need encouragement to work. MLD therapists can re-direct lymph around a problem, for example by passing areas where nodes have been removed and taking fluid to the next set of available desirable nodes along the system.


MLD is also believed to have an analgesic effect; this is where nocireceptors (pain receptors) and mechanoreceptors (touch receptors) of the central nervous system share a synapse or pathway. A simplified explanation could be that the touch receptors are stimulated by the light, repetitive touch of MLD; these signals overtake or crowd out those sent by the pain receptors. MLD will also remove from cells the chemicals associated with the central nervous systems pain response. In practice MLD does have an analgesic effect.


Not yet proven but noted empirically and anecdotally, a logical consequence of MLD is in boosting the immune system. Lymph stagnation impedes the body's immunological response so speeding up the workings of the lymphatic system must promote it. People who have MLD on a regular basis report that they no longer pick up colds and sore throats as they did before.

Here is a link for more information lymphatic-drainage.


There have been a few clinical trials done on MLD but they are still quite limited at this time 2020. Here is a link for some information on one of the clinical trials done on MLD.

Using MLD techniques make it possible to help:

  • Improve scar tissue

  • Improve muscle strength

  • Aids in decongesting tissues

  • Aids relaxation of muscles and body as a whole

  • Helps improve the workings of the whole lymphatic system

  • Strengthens the immune system

  • The breakdown and removal of toxins

  • Migraines and headaches

  • Common acne, eczema, and acne rosacea

  • Constipation

  • Tinnitus, meniere's

  • MS, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid and osteoarthritis

  • Sinus congestion and chronic catarrh

  • Tendonitis, repetitive strain injury, whiplash

  • Reduce stress, giving relaxation to mind and body

  • Improve the function of related organs and systems

  • Improve the whole body, mind and spirit connection

  • As an effective treatment for localised post-traumatic oedema after bruising, distortion, fracture, dislocation, or surgical procedure.

  • It is useful to complement mobilisation by physical therapy]

  • Helps with Lymphoedema

  • Helps with swelling

  • Helps with removal of lymph fluid in patients who have lymph nodes removed due to cancer

Neck and Shoulder Massage
bottom of page