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Manual Lymphatic Drainage


Manual Lymph drainage (MLD), is a technique initially developed by the Vodders (Dr. Emil Vodder and his wife, Estrid) in 1936 in Paris for treatment of swollen lymph nodes. In the 1980's Dr. Robert Lerner, the “Pioneer of Manual Lymph Drainage", brought their techniques to the USA from Europe, and the lymphedema treatment movement here was born.


MLD is a gentle manual therapy technique. It should not be confused with a traditional massage. Rather, it is a light, rhythmic, skin mobilization combined with gentle pressure focusing on key areas of the body where the bulk of the lymph nodes and lymphatic vessels are found. MLD is coupled with deep breathing techniques called diaphragmatic breathing to help open the deep lymphatic pathways. 


MLD is performed without the heavy application of oils or lotion. MLD is NEVER painful or performed in an aggressive or vigorous manner. Though sometimes the body is "tender to touch" following surgery or injury, MLD does not hurt. The goal of MLD is to reduce inflammation, swelling, bruising and pain and to improve the function of the immune system. MLD helps expedite the flow of excess fluid out of the tissues and and return it to the cardiovascular system. The cardiovascular system eventually transports the excess fluids, along with some protein, fat, and metabolic waste to the liver and urinary system and it is eliminated


How do I prepare for a MLD session? Hydration is key. Drink a minimum of 8, 8 oz glasses of water in the 3 days leading up to treatment. Do not eat anything 2 hours before the session. 

Does MLD actually work? Yes, it certainly does! The Vodder style MLD offered at Mend is the exact same technique offered in medical facilities worldwide and is gold standard of care in the treatment of lymphedema and other diseases/injuries of the lymphatic system.


Do you use any tools? No. Vodder technique is a "MANUAL" technique meaning it is hands only. However, there are times where a vibration mat or vibration machine may be used to enhance the client's relaxation, improve circulation or treat scar tissue.

Do you offer wood therapy? No. I do not believe in traumatizing the body with aggressive techniques. My role is to facilitate healing.

Do you offer any other techniques? Mend is the only therapeutic massage practice in Montclair devoted exclusively to providing Vodder style MLD. However, there are times when other techniques, such as myofascial release and other scar tissue mobilization techniques, are combined with MLD in order to enhance the healing process. 

Do you offer Brazilian style lymphatic massage? No.

Will lymphatic drainage get rid of my cellulite? NO. There are no massage techniques in existence that will rid anyone of any degree of cellulite. Anyone who tells you that any type of massage will get rid of cellulite is misleading you. MLD may, however, temporarily reduce the appearance of it.

Does MLD hurt? Nope. Not even a little bit. It is one of the gentlest forms of manual therapy. Clients report that it is an extremely soothing, healing experience.

How will I feel after the session? My clients report feeling lighter, buoyant, and profoundly relaxed. They report that their pain is diminished and they can move with greater ease. Clients also sometimes report having a transcendental, meditative experience during the session. You may even find that you fall asleep, which I encourage! Healing begins with deep rest and relaxation.

Can I work out after a session? Yes. I encourage physical activity before and after a session as it helps to enhance lymphatic drainage.

Is there anything I should do after the session to enhance the effects? Exercise (especially swimming, yoga and Pilates), avoiding sodium, hydrating well, and avoiding heavy/fatty meals after the session will help to promote lymphatic drainage and help you get the most out of your session.

How long with the effects of the session last? Everyone is different. Maintaining a reduced sodium diet, hydrating, exercise, compression garments (where appropriate) and eating an antiinflammatory diet will help to prolong the effects of treatment.

Will MLD make me lose weight? If you are retaining a significant amount of fluid, MLD will help you lose "water weight". This is particularly true for clients who have lymphedema. Clients who have been indulging in too much salty food or alcoholic beverages may find that they drop several pounds after a session. Many clients who are in normal health do find that they will shed a few pounds within the 24 hours after a session, leading to a leaner, more defined look. This is useful when preparing for an event for which you would like to look your best! However, MLD is not a "cure" for obesity and will not make you "burn" fat. There is absolutely no scientific evidence that MLD will make you lose fat. However, there IS evidence demonstrating that obesity DOES damage the lymphatic system. Together with proper nutrition and exercise, MLD can help heal your lymphatic system over time, leading to improved overall health.

Can I have MLD if I have a medical condition? Please call to inquire if MLD is the right treatment for you. Because it is a powerful, effective modality, MLD is definitely not right for every body and in some cases may be contraindicated.

Do you encourage dry brushing for lymphatic drainage? No. There is absolutely no evidence that dry brushing does anything whatsoever to increase lymphatic drainage. It's a social media fueled fad. 

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