Rockin' Good Health Therapeutic Massage
Manual Lymph Drainage

Sam Reichgott, LMT, MLD/C has been certified to perform Manual Lymph Drainage (Vodder Technique) by the Academy of Lymphatic Studies.

What is Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD)?

Manual Lymph Drainage, sometimes called Lymphatic Massage, is a gentle manual treatment that stimulates the lymphatic system, increasing the return of lymph to the circulatory system. The goal of MLD is to assist and accelerate the body's natural process of "draining" water, proteins, and used cellular components from the spaces between living cells.

MLD is not the same as massage. Traditional massage includes kneading and manipulation of muscular tissue. MLD affects the superficial lymphatic system, just millimeters under the skin's surface. 

Who Can Benefit From MLD?

MLD can be beneficial for a variety of conditions. People with the following conditions can benefit from MLD:

  • Localized edema (swelling) after surgery or trauma, or resulting from pregnancy, vigorous exercise, air travel, or venous insufficiency - decreased swelling reduces discomfort and promotes healing
  • Migraine headaches - draining lymph from the cranial areas, relaxation, and improvement in quality of sleep may reduce symptoms
  • Fibromyalgia - the gentle treatment is easily tolerated, and has an analgesic effect
  • Cellulite - reduction in fluid promotes an improvement in skin appearance
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome - the treatment is very relaxing and can help relieve symptoms of CFS

MLD can also be used as a detoxification treatment. The by-products of metabolic processes ("waste" products) are returned to the blood for natural elimination. Periodic full-body MLD treatment (for example, with each change of season) can help you feel better all year long.

What to Expect in Your MLD Session

We always begin by discussing your medical history, to be certain that MLD will be safe and effective for you.

Your MLD session will begin with gentle stimulation of the lymphatic ducts and major lymph nodes, to "open the gates" to increased lymphatic flow. This may include light pressure near your shoulders and neck, and light pressure on your abdomen. The areas we address will depend on your health and medical condition, always with your safety and comfort in mind.

The session proceeds with specialized strokes, no deeper than the skin, to stimulate the production and movement of lymphatic fluid. Depending on our goals for your MLD treatment, the work may be done on your arms, legs, neck, face, trunk, or a combination of these areas. Most people find the treatment very relaxing, and it is not unusual for the client to drift into a light sleep during the session.  

Who Should NOT Receive MLD?

MLD is generally safe; given the very light pressure, there is little or no chance for tissue damage. But in cases where increased lymphatic flow would be detrimental, MLD should be avoided. People with the following conditions should not receive MLD:

  • Acute infections, including inflammation caused by bacteria, viruses, poisons, or allergens
  • Renal failure
  • Cardiac edema - swelling caused by cardiac insufficiency, or other major heart problems
  • Acute deep vein thrombosis (DVT), phlebitis
  • Acute bronchitis
  • Malignant tumors

We will discuss your medical history with you. In the interest of safety, we will not perform MLD in the presence of any of the above conditions. In addition, we are not certified to treat patients with lymphedema; please consult a medical professional for proper referral and treatment. 

We may limit your MLD treatment in the event of some other conditions. As a simple example, no abdominal pressure will be applied to pregnant women, but they may receive MLD treatment to relieve edema in the legs.


Academy of Lymphatic Studies, Certification in Manual Lymph Drainage (Vodder Technique), class materials.

Cathy Ulrich, The Benefits of Lymphatic Massage,

Anne Willis, Manual Lymphatic Drainage and its Therapeutic Benefits, Positive Health, Issue 104 October 2004.

Sue Waterworth, Benefits of Lymphatic Drainage, Natural Therapy Pages, Sep 28, 2011.

What is MLD, Manual Lymphatic Drainage UK.

Guenter Klose, L.M.T., C.L.T.-L.A.N.A., How Manual Lymph Drainage Certification Will Change Your Massage Practice, October 1, 2014.

Lymphatic Drainage Massage Technique,

Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals
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