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Manual Lymph Drainage Massage

By Dana Witter and Karen Merrill

Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD) was developed in Copenhagen in the 1930’s by Dr. Emil Vodder and his wife Estrid and brought to the US in 1980’s by Dr. Robert Lerner.

MLD uses light, rhythmic touch to encourage healthy lymph flow within the body to improve function of the immune system. Unlike your circulatory system (blood) which is pumped by the heart, the lymphatic system does not have a pump of its own and only flows in one direction.

Lymph fluid is extra fluid that drains from cells and tissues that is not reabsorbed into your system, as well as other substances such as proteins, minerals, fats, nutrients, damaged or cancer cells and foreign invaders (bacteria, viruses, etc.) that is filtered through your lymph nodes and then returned into the bloodstream. The effects of MLD includes pain relief, deep relaxation, fluid balance, intestinal function and strengthening of the immune system. MLD is indicated for many pathologies such as long or post COVID, fibromyalgia, Crohn’s disease, allergies, Lyme disease, alopecia, neuropathy, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, Alzheimer’s disease, acne, diabetes, scars (such as c-section) and can reduce the appearance of cellulite!

How often should one come in for MLD treatment?

Similar to massage, MLD benefits are best when received on a regular basis. There are many options to incorporate this modality into your wellness routine. One method is to “Jump start” your system with a restore package, which includes (2) 60 minute and (2)-105 minute sessions completed as close as possible within a 30 day time frame. Once those sessions are completed, maintaining an MLD session once every 4-6 weeks is optimal. You can also incorporate MLD into your 90 minute massage session with a combination of traditional massage followed by an MLD treatment. This is a great option for those on the fence. Whatever your decision may be, MLD technique may change your view of bodywork.

There are a few conditions in which MLD is contraindicated such as major organ failure (heart, liver, kidney, etc.), DVT/blood clots (within the past 2 years), pregnancy related morning sickness, and infections to name a few. Please check with your medical provider and the MLD therapist with any concerns prior to scheduling your treatment.

You can remain clothed for a stand-alone MLD full body or head, neck and face treatment session or can also be completed in conjunction with a deep tissue or Swedish style massage. It is recommended that you drink 16 oz of water just before and after your MLD session. 640 Massage Therapies can help you start your MLD journey, call us or book online today!

Additional Information:


Major organ failure (heart/kidney/liver)

DVT/blood clots (within past 2 years)

Infections (including dental)

Cancer (active)- MD clearance for treatment post active

High risk pregnancy

1st trimester of pregnancy and Morning sickness (any trimester)

Flu or fever

Skin irritation/rashes

Cerebral Vascular Accident (CVA)- also known as stroke

Recent sutures

Open wounds

COVID 19 (active)

Extra precautions:

Edema following cancer treatment

Thyroid dysfunction

Chronic inflammation

Bronchial asthma

Hypotension/AFIB(blood thinners)

Diabetes (uncontrolled)

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