Lymphatic Drainage Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) is a type of gentle massage which is intended by proponents to encourage the natural drainage of the lymph from the tissues space body. The lymph system depends on intrinsic contractions of the smooth muscle cells in the walls of lymph vessels (peristalsis) and the movement of skeletal muscles to propel lymph through the vessels to lymph nodes and then beyond the lymph nodes to the lymph ducts which return lymph to the cardiovascular system. Manual lymph drainage uses a specific amount of pressure and rhythmic circular movements to stimulate lymph flow. Lymphatic drainage massage is a profound technique to help increase lymph flow. With an increase of lymph flow immune function is increased. Harmful substances are removed from the tissues and neutralized in the nodes. It has also been shown that an increase in lymph flow stimulates an increased production of lymphocytes- enhancing immune function. Patients that have extreme amounts of oedema should work with a group of healthcare practitioner trained in lymph drainage, bandaging and other modalities. However, with a proper understanding of contraindications and some basic training, massage therapists can enhance the health of their clients and reduce minor cases of oedema. Lymphatic drainage massage is also useful when working with clients who have sports injuries. After the initial inflammatory stage has passed, lymphatic work can be applied after Sports or Neuromuscular massage has been completed. This will help to clear the tissue of debris, and help to reduce the minor oedema that sometimes occurs after deep massage. Continued applications of lymphatic drainage while the client is healing can help to enhance the tissue regeneration process by keep the tissue as healthy as possible. Not only is lymphatic drainage useful for sports injuries, but it can also help scars. (Godart, S., "Lymphatic regeneration after second degree burn," Progress in Lymphology, 1975/ Hutzshenreuter, P.O. and Brummer, H., "Manual Lymph Drainage used for Scar Healing," University of Ulm). Lymph work has been shown to help the scarring process by enhancing circulation and immunity. As the lymph flow around the scar is increased, lymph vessels that have been damaged are stimulated to heal, and the increased lymph flow also draws away toxins, improving the health of the tissues. Beyond its application for injuries, Aestheticians have been using lymph drainage massage for years to enhance the quality of the skin, especially on the face. When the lymph is flowing, the cells are being bathed in fresh fluid, causing the skin to look fresh and alive. We have all experienced having minor oedema in our faces- that puffy feeling and baggy eyes when we first wake in the morning after a long night. Usually after a few minutes of being vertical the lymph system starts to drain the face. A great way to see the power of lymph drainage is to apply a few strokes on one of those mornings, and watch in just a few minutes the tissues drain right before your eyes- leaving you looking vibrant and healthy. Another common use for lymph drainage massage is with women who have had breast cancer and had some axillary lymph nodes removed. Sometimes these people develop oedema in their arm. If there is a great deal of swelling, then this is out of the scope of practice for a most massage therapists due to the need for bandaging. If the swelling is minor however, then a fully trained lymphatic drainage therapist working in conjunction with medical supervision can do a great amount of good.

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