The Dr Vodder Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) Technique

This is a gentle, non-invasive manual technique that has a powerful effect on the body. Research in Australia, Europe and North America has proven its efficacy as a stand-alone treatment and in combination with other therapies. Developed in France in 1932 by Dr Emil Vodder and his wife Estrid Vodder. MLD has grown to be the internationally most well known manual technique to assist lymph flow, aid in drainage of tissues and reduce swelling (oedema).  I refer to this as lymphatic massage on my website as this is a nice and simple way to think of this technique.

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Technique of the Dr Vodder’s Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD)

What makes this technique so distinctive? The Dr Vodder method is a gentle, non-invasive technique that gently restores the lymphatic system. The Dr. Vodder technique always begins with treatment of the lymph nodes and lymph vessels found at the neck and the junction of the large lymph channels in the venous arch on both sides of the body (connection of the jugular and subclavian veins). Dr. Vodder calls this “clearing the chain lymph nodes down to the terminus”.
For MLD to be effective, use of the proper specialist technique and adaptation of the length of individual therapy sessions to meet the needs of the pathology concerned are essential. In comparison with other forms of massage, MLD sessions are unusually lengthy. A typical MLD session requires anything from 30 minutes to 60 minutes, but but may be extended to 90 minutes, depending on the treatment requirements.

The effects of (MLD)

Forty years of scientific studies MLD produces three major effects, all of which have been scientifically studied and confirmed:

Decongestive effect

Any swelling of the body – with the exceptions of cardiac (heart) and renal (kidney) oedema – can be successfully treated with MLD. The lymphatic system is a kind of “one-way street”, which ultimately transports the lymphatic load (protein, fat, cellular and water load) in the right ventricle from the tissue back into the circulatory system. Just picture the lymph fluids as the waste removal system of the human body. Wherever “waste” (toxins, proteins, detritus from wounds) is produced, the lymphatic system must act in order to drain such waste. The special MLD massage technique induces a pumping effect in the tissue. The lymphatic pathways’ own rhythm is accelerated to up to 20 times its normal rate. This enhanced drainage effect results in rapid decongestion and restoration of normal tissue condition.

Sympatholytic Effect

Manual Lymph Drainage is very soothing. Frequently patients doze off within minutes. Steady and rhythmic hand strokes by a good therapist are the prerequisite for successful treatment. If you are feeling very stressed then try a series of 6 x 30 minutes lymph drainage sessions. It is a wonderful preventive measure against burnout.

Analgesic effect

Pain relief through MLD is like trying to “scratch away” the pain and itching of mosquito bites. Scratching will stimulate large skin areas, thus reducing the feeling of pain, just as MLD stimulates the lymphatic system to alleviate pain aka Gate control theory. MLD results in pain mediators being drained into the lymphatic system more rapidly, so that they are no longer active in the tissue. Any prolonged pain, such as pain generated by migraine, acute injuries, Sudeck’s disease, fibromyalgia, etc can be treated using lymph drainage.

Immunological effect

MLD helps accelerate the transportation of bacteria and allergens to the places where the body’s defense system is located (i.e. the lymph nodes) and where the increased rate of lymphatic drainage heightens the sensitization of lymphocytes and macrophages. The latter can travel more rapidly via the blood flow to reach the “scene of action” and intervention by phagocytosis, which in turn will improve overall immunity.

About the Dr Vodder Practitioner

In addition, using their in-depth knowledge of the lymphatic system, Dr Vodder practitioners can also assist many conditions by working on proximal areas of the lymphatic system where the affected area is in trauma for example bruising, ulceration, dermatological conditions, sports injuries, as well as pre and post plastic surgery.

Background On The Dr Vodder Training

Dr Asdonk created the first list of clinical medical indications for lymphatic conditions making them recognisable. In 1966 Gunther Wittlinger became aware of the Dr Vodder method and together with Dr Vodder and Dr Asdonk they founded the Association of Dr Vodder’s Manual Lymphatic Drainage in 1967 and the Vodder School in 1972. Hildeguard and Gunther Wittlinger introduced the Vodder method into America at a 1972 conference and returned around 10 years later to run a training program for the method, when they connected with Robert Harris.
Robert became the first certified teacher of the Vodder method in 1986 and established the Dr Vodder School in Victoria, British Columbia in Canada in 1994. Robert is a founding and current board member of the Lymphology Association of North America (LANA).
Click here for more information about the Vodder International School and here for the Wittlinger Clinic where clients stay onsite for care.

Dr Vodder training in Australasia

Training is now run in New Zealand and Australia is facilitated by Dr Jan Douglass and is booked through the Moving Lymph website. Dr Jan also trains in Basic, Therapy I and the Lymph Taping.

Another Australian connection

Professor Neil Piller is the Lymphologist and Director of the lymphoedema Clinical Research Unit and conducts the “Diagnosis & Treatment” section of the Vodder Practitioner Training in Australasia.
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Move that lymph!