Ther­apy you’ll be happy to feel drained af­ter

Si­nus pain, stress and skin con­di­tions can all re­port­edly be re­lieved with Man­ual Lym­phatic Drainage mas­sage treat­ment. Claire Spread­bury finds out more

Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - Health -

IF you haven’t heard of Man­ual Lym­phatic Drainage (MLD) mas­sage, you’re not alone. It’s a treat­ment many of us are yet to ex­pe­ri­ence, but could work won­ders for tired, con­gested or bloated bod­ies.

The name it­self de­scribes some of what the treat­ment does. “MLD is a very gen­tle form of ad­vanced mas­sage ther­apy, aimed at mov­ing the lymph un­der the skin us­ing spe­cialised, gen­tle, rhyth­mic tech­niques,” says holis­tic ther­a­pist Rima Shah. “How­ever, it does not in­volve drain­ing the whole of the lym­phatic sys­tem away. It aids the for­ma­tion and trans­port of lymph around the body.”

The lym­phatic sys­tem has many func­tions in the body. It forms a vi­tal part of our im­mune sys­tem and is also de­signed to as­sist in the re­moval of waste prod­ucts from the body’s cells. “The lym­phatic sys­tem is not me­chan­i­cally con­trolled by the body, and there­fore has to rely on mus­cu­lar move­ment, blood cir­cu­la­tion and the ner­vous sys­tem, to as­sist cir­cu­la­tion around the body,” Shah adds.

What is lymph?

“The fluid in the sys­tem is called lymph, which is a vis­cous liq­uid,” says Shah. “The lym­phatic sys­tem can be­come very slug­gish and doesn’t work at its best due to a va­ri­ety of rea­sons, in­clud­ing lack of mus­cu­lar move­ment, poor di­ets, dis­ease and in­fec­tions. A slug­gish lym­phatic sys­tem can lead to the body not elim­i­nat­ing its waste ef­fi­ciently, caus­ing a build-up, which shows as an oedema, or water re­ten­tion.”

MLD mas­sage is de­signed to ac­ti­vate the mus­cu­la­ture of the lymph-ves­sel sys­tem, so they con­tract more of­ten, in­creas­ing the rate of ab­sorp­tion of fluid and waste prod­ucts from the sur­round­ing tis­sues. It’s a non­in­va­sive way to re­move ex­cess fluid more quickly, and makes a healthy lym­phatic sys­tem more ef­fec­tive.

What ail­ments can MLD help treat?

Used as both a pre­ven­ta­tive and re­me­dial tech­nique, MLD mas­sage can ease water re­ten­tion (es­pe­cially in preg­nancy), bloat­ing and headaches, as well as si­nus con­ges­tion, ear prob­lems and skin con­di­tions. “Head, eye, ear, nose, mouth, den­tal, throat, si­nus and skin prob­lems, re­sult­ing from lym­phatic-re­lated con­ges­tion, can re­spond pos­i­tively,” notes Shah, adding that some peo­ple even use this treat­ment to help fight the age­ing process.

What does it feel like?

MLD mas­sage feels like no other treat­ment I’ve ever ex­pe­ri­enced be­fore.

Af­ter a con­sul­ta­tion, you lay on a bed and re­lax into treat­ment. The pres­sure is light and move­ments are slight — like tiny tugs to your face, neck and around the col­lar­bone. I have chronic si­nus is­sues and could feel some­thing mov­ing when the ar­eas around my eyes and nose were be­ing worked on. I stayed awake, but many peo­ple fall asleep while it’s be­ing done, be­cause it’s so re­lax­ing. No oils or pow­ders tend to be used — just the ther­a­pist’s hands.

“The treat­ment fo­cuses on the head, neck and face ar­eas pri­mar­ily,” adds Shah. “The pro­ce­dure is very dif­fer­ent to a stan­dard face mas­sage, which works deeper into the mus­cles. MLD is much more gen­tle and rhyth­mic — al­most hyp­notic.”

How many ses­sions do you need?

For any­one with a lin­ger­ing con­di­tion, like blocked si­nuses, Shah says reg­u­lar ses­sions close to­gether work best as does re­cov­ery post­surgery. Af­ter this, monthly main­te­nance ses­sions can work well, although some peo­ple find a one-off ses­sion can ac­tu­ally work won­ders.

“By en­cour­ag­ing the re­moval of waste, and ex­cess, stag­nant con­nec­tive tis­sue fluid, the skin gets its nu­tri­ents more quickly and bethe gins to look fan­tas­tic,” notes Shah. “Typ­i­cally, you can ex­pect your skin to look clearer and feel softer, eyes to be brighter, dark ar­eas be­low the eyes to lighten, puffiness and con­ges­tion to re­duce and a more de­fined jaw-line (th­ese full re­sults may not be no­tice­able af­ter only one ses­sion, though).”

How do you feel af­ter­wards?

Ev­ery­one is dif­fer­ent, but you should feel more re­laxed and clear-headed. You may also feel tired and spaced out — or en­er­gised. For me, my si­nuses felt a lit­tle clearer. I could def­i­nitely breathe a bit bet­ter and my nose was run­ning al­most con­stantly for the next few hours.

For an ad­di­tional boost, it’s a good idea to drink plenty of water for the two days that fol­low MLD. Re­duc­ing your caf­feine and al­co­hol in­take, not smok­ing, eat­ing light meals and lis­ten­ing to your body (rest­ing if you feel tired) can also help the treat­ment to work more fully. This can al­le­vi­ate any mild side-ef­fects and as­sist your body’s clear­ing process, too.

“It’s such a spe­cialised treat­ment that has this added ad­van­tage of be­ing deeply re­lax­ing,” adds Shah. “Dur­ing my train­ing years ago, I couldn’t quite be­lieve how much fluid I would lose daily, from prac­tis­ing on each other. The treat­ment al­lows the lym­phatic sys­tem to work bet­ter, which helps our waste sys­tem func­tion more ef­fec­tively.”

Picture:PA/Think­stock

MAGIC MAS­SAGE: The ther­a­pist does not use any oils or pow­ders — just their hands.

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