The lymphatic system is an important circulatory network that serves the body by removing foreign matter, proteins, and metabolic waste products from tissues. The fluid lymph transports these substances to the blood vessels to be eliminated from the body. Hundreds of lymph nodes throughout the body act as reservoirs or filtering stations along this network, and they contain the infection-fighting white blood cells that are an integral part of the immune system. Lymph nodes may swell as they fill with additional immune-system cells created in response to disease. When the lymphatic system is damaged or blocked by disease or surgery, lymph cannot flow properly, and fluid may build up in the tissues, resulting in lymphedema (excessive accumulation of fluid). Massaging the lymphatic passageways can help return proper flow to the system. Many forms of hands-on bodywork can have a positive effect on the lymphatic system, but Manual Lymphatic Drainage, developed in the late 1930s by Danish bodyworker Dr. Emil Vodder and his naturopath wife, Estrid Vodder works directly on the lymph vessels to stimulate the flow of lymph. and strengthen the immune system. This treatment has been found to have a positive effect on many chronic conditions and is especially useful before and after surgery and for individuals with weakened immune systems or bad circulation.
Rather than soft-tissue manipulation, MLD uses a specific sequence of precise, gentle skin massage along the lymphatic pathways with subtle on-and-off pulses of pressure to pump the lymph and drain cellular waste from the lymph nodes. This very light, rhythmical form of massage is applied in the same direction as the natural flow of lymph and uses slow, repetitive strokes that carefully stretch and twist the lymph channels, stimulate the circulation of lymphatic fluid, and relax the nervous system. Because many of the lymph vessels are found just below the surface of the skin, a thin layer of lymph can actually be seen when the flow is stimulated; some experienced practitioners are able to precisely map the flow to find alternative pathways for drainage. Treatments also incorporate techniques such as stationary circling, thumb circling, fork action, pumping, fan strokes, and scooping or rotary movements that accelerate lymph flow and drain the lymph nodes. Specialized techniques have been developed for addressing the lymphedema that is often a consequence of surgical treatment for breast cancer. In specific cases, deeper manipulations of muscles and soft tissue are incorporated to relax and relieve tension. Other methods of lymphatic drainage are found around the globe, and laser therapy has even been utilized to enhance lymphatic drainage.
Contact: North America Vodder Association of Lymphatic Therapy – More information: www.navalt.org
This modality comes from “Our Inner Ocean”, a book by Captain LeCain W. Smith: The author, LeCain W. Smith, learned early in life that his personal path to awakening was through ocean sailing, bodywork, and transformational energetic experiences. When living on the sea, making friends with the elements and with nature, he uncovered his passion for adventure, exploration, fitness, and health. He spent many years studying and experiencing bodywork and practicing yoga, qigong, breath-work, and meditation. This passion, combined with seeing numerous friends struggle with health problems, eventually drove Smith to reach out and help others through the writing of this book. If this endeavor changes the life of only one person, he will consider it a success.
Good health is something we all aspire to, but it’s so much more than just being free of disease. A perfectly functioning body, tranquil mind, and vibrant spirit working together harmoniously create the joy and happiness that put the good in good health and the worth into a life worth living. Our Inner Ocean describes ancient and new holistic modalities of practitioner-applied bodywork and revitalizing self-care practices.