Differentiating between Massage Therapy and Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD)

Often, I will get asked the question, “What is the difference between massage therapy and manual lymph drainage?” A very good question. So, I thought I would give a simple explanation and share it as a blog post so more people know what the differences are.

Massage Therapy

  • Massage therapy focuses on treating the soft tissues of the body including muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints.
  • It can vary in pressure, rate and rhythm depending on the overall goal of the massage. For example, a slow, deep, rhythmical massage would create more of a relaxing treatment; where a fast-paced, light massage would be great if used before an athletic event.
  • It can also vary with regards to which body part is used to apply the techniques. Such as the hand, knuckles, forearm or elbow.
  • Massage therapy helps alleviate the discomfort associated with everyday bodily stresses, acute and chronic musculoskeletal conditions, some pathological conditions and many persistent pain syndromes.

Manual Lymph Drainage

  • Manual lymph drainage focuses on stimulating fluid movement (lymph) throughout the body.
  • It is a very light, gentle, rhythmic manual technique that creates a light stretch and torque effect to the skin which allows the underlying lymphatic vessels to drain the fluid from the connective tissue and deliver it to the lymph nodes.
  • Overall, it has a gentle, soothing, calming effect on the body’s nervous system and muscles.
  • It can have a very powerful, positive effect on our immune system.
  • Indications for MLD are swelling conditions, such as lymphedema & venous insufficiency, detoxification purposes, pain management, lipedema and skin conditions.

Our therapists have seen first-hand how these treatments can have such an impact on our patients’ lives. Both of these treatments are offered here at Sunnybrae Therapeutics.