Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) or soothing oncology massage
MLD, also known as Oncology Massage, was developed in the 1930s. It uses gentle specialised techniques to encourage the flow of lymph throughout the body. It helps clear any blockages that are causing swelling and encourages the removal of toxins and waste that has built up.
What is the Lymphatic System?
The lymphatic system plays a major role in the body’s immune system and works closely with the blood circulatory system. It helps to remove excess fluid and waste from the body and helps regulate the immune system by fighting infection through the production of white blood cells. Sometimes the lymphatic system can become blocked, which means fluid and waste build up and stagnate. This may result in swelling. The build-up of toxins in the body can make you feel lethargic, run down and you are more likely to get ill. Often the unexplained aches, pains and fatigue we experience, are a result of a compromised lymph system.
Common causes of fluid build-up, resulting in blockages, occur during illness, prolonged exposure to pollutants, or following overindulgence, where the body has become overloaded with toxins. By stimulating the lymphatic system through light pressure drainage techniques, MLD helps boost the immune system, eliminates toxins, increases metabolism and transportation of nutrients to cells.
What are the benefits of Manual Lymphatic Drainage?
MLD helps promote the body’s own healing mechanisms. It’s beneficial for those who suffer regularly from common illnesses like colds and flu. It is also recommended for individuals who lead inactive lifestyles or those who suffer from puffiness, water retention or swelling.
Unlike deep tissue massage, lymphatic drainage can be used to help swollen areas and is therefore very effective when treating sport’s injuries, reducing scar tissue, and minimising pain associated with rheumatism and broken bones. Once the initial inflammation caused by injury has died down, lymphatic drainage can be used to relieve oedema, remove damaged cells and help with nourishing the development of new tissue.
As the functioning of the lymphatic system is restored, it has a positive effect on problem skin, cellulite, dysfunctional respiratory systems and people with low energy. The frequency and severity of headaches and migraines will be reduced and you may find it easier to lose weight. Your happy immune system will make you less vulnerable to illness and infections.
Following this treatment, you should feel less congested. With your metabolism having been given a boost, you may notice a positive change in your digestion and quality of sleep You’ll enjoy a sense of renewed vitality and energy. Your body will feel more healthy and more balanced.
What would the treatment involve?
MLD is carried out by a specialist practitioner. Each treatment involves a consultation to establish the client's needs and frequency of any future sessions.
MLD is a very powerful treatment. Unlike some forms of massage, a very delicate pressure is used, combined with soft pumping movements in the direction of the lymph nodes.
The treatment itself can take about an hour.
The client remains fully clothed during the session. No products are used.
Similarities with oncology massage
Oncology Massage uses the same techniques as those used in Manual Lymphatic Drainage. It has the same gentle, flowing, rhythmic feel. It is cleansing, relaxing, pain-relieving and has immunological benefits. It helps reduce anxiety and calm the mind.
This treatment helps those recovering from cancer, by reducing the painful lymphedema that can occur as a result of surgery and removal of lymph nodes. This may be a worthwhile therapy to consider, along with your doctor's supervision.
While there are still some contraindications for Oncology Massage, it can offer a safe route to hands-on healing therapy, where other forms of massage therapies are contraindicated.
Before starting treatment, a referral/permission from your oncology consultant must be given.
When should manual lymphatic drainage / oncology massage be avoided?
Due to its gentle approach lymphatic drainage is a very safe therapy, however, there are some instances in which this type of massage should be avoided. The most severe cases involve:
- Acute inflammation
- Acute renal failure
- Malignant tumours
- Major heart problems
Because of its powerful effect on the immune system, anyone with cancer, diabetes, thyroid, kidney problems, epilepsy or asthma, should seek medical advice before treatment. It is also recommended that the is treatment is avoided when a woman is menstruating. It is more ideal is to perform this treatment before and after the menstrual period, because it's at that moment that fluids and toxins accumulate more quickly in the body, because of the action of hormones.