hat is MLD?
MLD stands for Manual Lymph Drainage.
The body is comprised of numerous systems all working together to form one complete entity. The lymph system is one of the systems that integrates information and nutrients from one organ system to another. A blockage of lymph can result in a plethora of maladies.
Edema is the best known example of the lymph system gone awry. Picture if you will, your sprained ankle. Notice how it seems to keep swelling long after the injury. There are many reasons for this. One reason is, the swelling creates a natural cast/ splint, so that you cannot further injure the joint.
Another reason for the swelling is to introduce copious amounts of white blood cells (your immune system) to the area. It's the body's equivalent of "clean up on aisle 5".
Lymph swoops in, takes control of the situation, sends nutrients to the point of injury and tells everyone what to do. Lymph is also the last one to leave the wreckage site, taking with it, all of the trash bags and cleaning tools.
Now, admit it- when the Dr says "stay off that ankle for 6 weeks"... do you? Or do you tell yourself "I feel better. I can begin walking again"?
And have you noticed how the swelling either remains or gets WORSE when you do that? The truth of the matter is- you might not be feeling pain- but you are far from healed. That swelling sometimes becomes chronic, leading to decreased blood flow, decreased range of motion, and decreased nutrient exchange.
Lymph's job is to circle the body, finding debris, and then bring all of the garbage to the dumpster.
Everyone knows what a pulse is. It is the beat of your heart sending blood around your body. Generally speaking, the average adult will be somewhere between 60-100 beats per minute. Lymph also has its own pulse, and it beats in the vicinity of 10-12 beats a minute. WOAH!!!! A lot slower than blood! That's like you or I taking an afternoon saunter and picking up an empty water bottle or gum wrapper here and there. But what if we picked up the pace a bit? What if we began to jog? Couldn’t we circle the park a lot faster? Maybe we can come across debris as it is being thrown down- before it has the chance to get entangled in the underbrush. Imagine how much cleaner our park could be then!
MLD increases our lymph flow 10 TIMES MORE than our usual pace. So instead of lymph beating at 10-12 beats a minute, it becomes a whopping 100-120 beats a minute!
Now imagine if after all of your hard work, I told you that because you worked so hard, people would be so appreciative, they would clean the park FOR YOU for the next couple of days.
MLD treatments keep the increased pace going for 24-48 hours after each treatment. Just imagine how much debris we could remove from our park in THAT amount of time!
If we go back to our comparison with blood, what happens when our heartbeat gets sluggish for too long? Our blood doesn’t pump as quickly, we don’t get old blood out of our system, new blood cells can’t be born, and we wind up with thickened blood, decreased energy, sometimes piles of debris in our veins leading to clots etc, and so on, and so on.
The lymph system works the same way. The faster we can move the lymph through our system, the faster we can remove all of the cellular debris in our system, and the faster new lymphocytes can be born.
MLD isn’t just for sprained ankles. Far from it. MLD is widely used to help treat:
Acne (yes! ACNE!)
And the list just keeps going.
One of my favorite attributes to MLD is its healing capabilities in regard to surgery. 5 MLD treatments before surgery and 5 MLD treatments after surgery has shown to dramatically reduce inflammation and bruising, and a marked DECREASE in opiate use! Stop and think about that. You go in for a new knee, and when the nurse comes in to give you more morphine, you are able to say “no thanks- I’m good”. WOAH!
So now you are sitting in your hospital bed, with less pain, less swelling and better range of motion. Guess what happens when you go to PT. Go ahead, guess. I’ll wait here….
MLD is able to reduce recovery time from 9-18 months down to 2- 3 months!
Think about that. Ask anyone who has had joint replacement or the dreaded rotator cuff surgery how long it was before they could resume a normal life.
I have watched many people (including my mother) recover from massive surgeries. I have always wished I could help them. Now I can.
MLD is not “the new fad”. This is not some demi-science that will be debunked in a few years. Do your research, ask questions and determine for yourself if MLD is right for you. If you are lost in the myriad of information that is out there- ask me. I am more than happy to help you navigate your health.