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Spotlight On: Manual Lymphatic Drainage

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Manual Lymphatic Drainage (or MLD) is a therapy which can be extremely beneficial for many people, however it is not always very well known.  It is used to reduce symptoms of a number of specific conditions such as lymphedema, chronic sinus congestion and swelling from acute injuries.  Manual lymphatic drainage has numerous health benefits, some of which include reducing pain and oedema, improving general health and wellbeing, stimulating the immune system and reducing congestion. (1)

MLD is very gentle, using a light touch that is designed to promote the flow of lymph throughout the body.  The reason such a light touch is used because we only want to stimulate the superficial lymphatic vessels just below the skin’s surface.  By stimulating these superficial vessels, the body can increase the rate at which the fluid in between the tissues can be cleared out and move through the body.  The technique is different to other styles of massage which work to manipulate the soft tissues such as muscles and fascia, meaning a firmer touch. (1)

Your lymphatic system is complex and integrates with other body systems such as the circulatory system and urinary system.   It has three main functions – maintaining the balance of fluid within the body, helping the body defend itself against foreign particles (such as bacteria) and facilitating the absorption of fats and fat soluble nutrients in the digestive system.  The lymphatic system also facilitates the removal of waste at a cellular level.   When fluid moves from the spaces between cells into the lymphatic system, it takes with it waste products such as dead cells and pathogens.  These then can be recognized by the immune system which allows for better protection in the future against those particular pathogens.  This system also helps to drain excess fluid from tissues that cannot be returned by veins. (2) 

Manual lymphatic drainage plays a role in improving the movement of lymph throughout the body and increasing the rate at which the fluid between cells in the body enter the lymphatic system.  Because this system has no pump (unlike the cardiovascular system) it relies on movement of the body to circulate the lymph through the system.  Deep breathing, movement and digestion are all ways your body pumps the fluid around the lymphatic system. MLD, exercise and skin brushing are all excellent ways for you to promote lymphatic flow. (3)

Who is Manual Lymphatic Drainage suitable for? 
MLD is suitable for most people and a number of situations and may help reduce symptoms of:
·      Sinus congestion/hayfever/chronic sinusitis/sinus headaches
·      Tension headaches
·      Stress
·      Menstrual pain
·      Chronic pain conditions
·      Assisting with detoxification programs
·      Post injury swelling (for example sprains, strains, dislocations)
·      Post operative oedema (with clearance from your surgeon)

If you would like to book your manual lymphatic drainage appointment please follow the link below to book in.  If you would like to know more about MLD please don't hesitate to call 0410 259 273 and I will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

Please be aware that MLD is not suitable for everyone, and with all clients a full case history is taken prior to treatment to determine if it is suitable for you.  If you have an acute infection/fever or systemic illness then it is advisable you remain home until you have recovered prior to any form of massage treatment.  Massage treatment when you are unwell can exacerbate symptoms and so is not recommended. (1)

References:
1.         Grace S, Deal M. Textbook of Remedial Massage: Elsevier Australia; 2012.

2.         MacGill M. Lymphatic System: Facts, Functions and Diseases. Medical News Today [Internet]. 2016 01 November 2017. Available from: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/303087.php.
3.         Willis A. Manual Lymphatic Drainage and its Therapeutic Benefits. Positive Health Online [Internet]. 2004 01 November 2017; (104). Available from: http://www.positivehealth.com/article/manual-lymphatic-drainage/manual-lymphatic-drainage-and-its-therapeutic-benefits.

 

Remedial Massage Therapy – Not just your regular massage!

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I am not sure about you, but for a very long time the only massage that I was aware of was relaxation massage.  I knew that remedial massage could help with tension, stress and backaches, but I had no idea that there was so much more to it than that.

Generally massage practice in Australia is divided into two levels based on the level of qualification – Relaxation/Swedish massage therapy and Remedial massage.   Massage falls under the “Complementary and Alternative Medicine” (CAM) umbrella, and so is a great therapy to complement other therapies including your regular primary care from a GP or other health professional.

The role of a Remedial Massage Therapist (RMT) is to assess and treat musculoskeletal and other system disorders. (1)  So it’s not (always) just a case of show up, hop on the table, treat and off you go.   There are various assessments and techniques that are available to provide a holistic treatment in order to get you well and more importantly KEEP you well.

Below I’ll discuss what to expect during your remedial massage treatment, what techniques are offered as part of your treatment plan, and what you may expect with regards to long term prevention strategies.

First things first….
If it is your first time coming for a remedial massage treatment or you are coming in because of a new injury or problem, then I’d strongly recommend booking in a 90 minute appointment instead of a 60 minute appointment.  The reason for this is because in order to come up with a suitable treatment plan both for that day and long term, I may need to do some musculoskeletal assessments or screening processes in order to determine what is causing the problem and how to provide the best treatment for you.  Sometimes we will re-assess during the treatment to determine the outcome of some of the techniques, however in most cases they’ll be done again after the treatment to compare pre and post treatment range of motion and/or pain levels.

I’ll also take a thorough case history to get a general idea of your level of health, the history of the complaint and any other relevant health history details.  Depending on the problem that you are presenting with, this can take anywhere between 5 and 15 minutes.  If you’re just after a relaxation massage, the health history interview will be brief – however the treatment will only consist of relaxation massage which is of course beneficial for stress and tension reduction but may not specifically address your health concern.

A remedial massage treatment may consist of a combination of techniques including relaxation massage, deep tissue massage, trigger point therapy, stretches, myofascial release and kinesiology taping.

Deep Tissue & Trigger Point Therapy
Deep tissue massage consists of strokes similar to relaxation or Swedish massage, however they are deeper, firmer, and can feel more intense depending on the area being treated.   Deep tissue massage is intended to reduce pain, lengthen and stretch muscle fibers, improve lymph and blood flow, separate adhesions and deactivate trigger points.  Trigger point therapy will generally be incorporated at the same time as deep tissue techniques, as usually the trigger points are found during the massage.  A trigger point is a localized area of hyperirritability within a muscle that can be extremely tender when touched or compressed.  In some cases, you may not know you have any until the massage, but in other cases they can be what’s causing your pain.  Trigger points usually have a “referral pattern” of pain, that feels like a dull ache or a pain that you can’t quite work out how to describe or know where its coming from.  Once trigger points are deactivated, pain can be reduced or eliminated completely. (1) When working on a trigger point I’ll ask you to let me know what level the pain is (on a scale of 1-10) to determine how much pressure is used.

Myofascial Release (MFR)
Myofascial release works within remedial massage to reduce adhesions and restrictions in the connective tissue throughout the body.   The fascia within the body connects everything together – and is spread throughout the body as a single structure.  If you can imagine a knitted jumper – if you were to pull on one sleeve it can affect the whole jumper.  The analogy relates to the human body in that if there is a restriction or adhesion within the fascia in one area of the body it can potentially affect other areas.  This can contribute to pain and postural problems.  The techniques used in MFR are aimed at lengthening the fascia, improving fluid flow in the areas, increasing range of motion, and reducing adhesions.  They are slower than deep tissue and trigger point therapy, and the pressure can vary between light and firm/deep.  In some clients, MFR can cause an emotional release either during the treatment or after treatment. (1)

Stretching & Taping
Stretches may also be incorporated as part of your remedial massage treatment in order to lengthen the muscles and improve range of motion.  Stretches may be passive, or may include your participation via your resistance to further improve range of motion to specific muscles.

Rocktape application may be recommended to further enhance the treatment, provide relief or improve posture in the days following the treatment.  Rocktape is a hypoallergenic and water resistant brand of kinesiology tape that is used toprovide functional support to the body during and post exercise, decrease pain, swelling and bruising and improve posture. (2)

Post Treatment
Post treatment you may be prescribed stretches or strengthening exercises to address the issues that are causing your pain or discomfort.  Stretches will be prescribed to further lengthen tight muscles, and strengthening exercises will be prescribed to improve weak muscles.  These two issues together are a big contributing factor to pain and injury.  The exercises prescribed will accommodate your level of fitness and exercise knowledge – both gym exercises and home exercise can be recommended.

So as you can see, remedial massage is more than “just massage”!  If you’re ready to book in your treatment then call 9293 2999 or visit the “Book Online Now” button below to make your appointment.

 

 

References:
1.         Grace S, Deal M. Textbook of Remedial Massage: Elsevier Australia; 2012.

2.         Rocktape n.d. [Available from: https://rocktape.com.au/.