What is Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) massage?

MLD is unlike any massage you will have had before. It is a gentle, flowing and rhythmic. MLD encourages lymph flow in the body.  


Lymph is a clear fluid that is part of the Lymphatic system and helps with your body’s blood circulation. The lymph system delivers nutrients to your cells and carries away any excess water, cellular waste, bacteria, viruses and toxins. The lymph capillaries and nodes are just beneath your skin. So, a gentle pressure is needed in a circular pumping rhythm to stimulate the lymphatic system.

shutterstock_2430216 lymph nodes swollen

This diagram shows some of the lymph nodes. The main ones you may already know...

  • Terminus (near collar bone)

  • Cervical nodes (in the neck)

  • Sub-mandibular nodes (under lower jaw area)

  • Axillary nodes (under armpits)

  • Pectoral nodes (side of breast tissue)

  • Inguinal nodes (groin area)

  • Popliteal noes (behind the knee)

As you know when you have a cold or virus these nodes quite often swell up and feel tight to the touch.



Manual Lymphatic Drainage is best on a couch for the comfort of you the client. If this is not possible it can be carried out while you are seated. Oils are not used in this treatment. The massage can be carried out with skin contact or over loose-fitting clothes. A full body treatment lasts an hour and will be tailored to your needs. You may prefer a MLD massage on just your face or to help with a specific problem (e.g. to drain puffy swollen tissue).

Key in this treatment: Pressure, Direction, Rhythm, Sequence.

What will you feel like during and afterwards?

You will feel a light gentle pressure with rhythm.  You may feel really relaxed and lightness may come over you.  You may feel clam.  The next day you may still feel really relaxed and slightly tired.  I always recommend the first time you have a treatment to plan a complete rest day the next day to allow your body time to absorb the massage and rebalance.  You can then begin to feel energised and have an increased sense of well-being.

Who would benefit from a Manual Lymphatic Drainage treatment?

  • People who suffer regularly from colds

  • Glandular fever, ME

  • Migraines 

  • Sinus Problems

  • Hay fever and other allergies

  • Pre and post operations where lymph nodes have been removed

  • Cellulite

  • People who lead a sedentary lifestyle

  • People with puffiness and swelling in legs and ankles

  • People with puffy eyes

  • Digestive problems and people who suffer with excess weight

  • Stress, anxiety and tension

  • Acne, Rosacea and other skin conditions

  • Help with PMT but best advised not while menstruating as it will increase blood flow 


Manual Lymphatic Massage has also had a positive effect on:

  • Dysfunctional respiratory system

  • People with low energy

  • Before and after a long-haul flight


Additionally, Manual Lymphatic Massage can:

  • Boost the immune system

  • Helps ward of illness

  • Can give you a feeling of health and vitality

  • Improve appearance of Skin 

  • Reduce puffiness cause by water retention

  • Help with pain from fractures, sprains and rheumatism

  • Helps with your body’s own healing mechanisms



MLD is not suitable for those with:

  • Acute infections in early stages, cellulitis, erysipelas, influenza, tuberculosis

  • Active cancer patients or undiagnosed lump

  • Malignant melanomas

  • Serious Circulatory problems: Thrombosis

  • Major heart problems


After care advice

  • Loosen tight clothing to help the lymph flow

  • Drink more water over the next few days (8 glasses per day). Your body will be in a state of high toxicity for a few days after the massage, so water will help flush these out

  • Reduce caffeine intake (tea, coffee, fizzy drinks)

  • Avoid hot baths, saunas and steam rooms for a couple of hours

  • Avoid alcohol for 24 hours

  • Try cutting down on smoking if you smoke

  • Make time to rest and relax to restore balance to your body

  • Regular light gentle exercise helps muscles contract and this help lymph flow

  • Deep diaphragmatic breathing helps promote healthy lymph. 10-15 mins a day with legs elevated will benefit if lymph is congested

  • Stick to a light diet of raw food, low in sodium so body can concentrate on the lymph rather than a sluggish digestion.