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Technique of Vodder’s Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD)

What makes this technique so distinctive? Dr. Vodder himself worked “with the skin”. He used circular or spiral strokes, while alternately increasing pressure to 30 torr (or roughly 4 kPascal) and reducing it to virtually nil. This constant change in pressure generates the pumping effect. Pressure is increased towards the natural direction of lymph flow. The strokes involve skin-to-skin contact as a result of which the skin is gently displaced by the hands. The technique is generally applied to dry skin, although it may be necessary to apply a drop or two of oil on hairy areas of the body.

Oil will likewise be used on skin areas that do not move (such as scars, ulcer margins, firm edemas) or on very dry or coarse skin (e.g. eczema). The MLD therapist works with steady and rhythmic strokes. The speed at which strokes follow one another is determined by the maximum frequency of lymphangiomotoricity. Under no circumstances should these strokes cause redness of the skin or pain. Now used for varying pathologies, the so-called therapy strokes are all part of the basic Vodder technique which is adjusted to the condition of the tissue in question and may be combined with exercises if required.

The Dr. Vodder technique 

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 30 to 45 minutes, but may be extended to 90 minutes, depending on the indication. 

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