All you need to know about Dr Vodder Method of Manual Lymph Drainage

The origins of the Dr Vodder’s Manual Lymph Drainage can be traced back to around the Thirties, thanks to the brilliant insight of the Danish biologist and physiotherapist Emil Vodder. Together with his wife Astrid, he studied the lymphatic system after noticing that many patients affected by chronic cold had swollen lymph nodes. The two spouses drew up a protocol to favour the lymph transit to the body. They found great support in the medical field.

lymph drainageHow does the lymph work?

The lymph is a liquid similar to blood and it is composed of water, salts, proteins and lymphocytes. It goes through each body district in order to clean out metabolic wastes accumulated in the tissues. In its pathway, there are several “stations”, the lymphatic ganglions where the lymph is freed from toxic residues and comes back to circulate in the tissues. The lymph pathway in our body is similar to the blood one in the circulatory system. The only difference is in the way the fluids flow: in the circulatory system, the heart continuously acts as a pump, while in the lymphatic system the lymph movement is largely due to the muscle contraction through the squeezing of the blood vessels.

If there is an alteration of this system, this can be due to several factors (traumatic, metabolic, stillness, lymph nodes surgical removal). You have a dross accumulation and a stagnation of liquids at the interstitial level that causes swelling and, as time goes, it leads to tissue alteration.

What is lymph drainage?

The Vodder’s lymph drainage is a massage made by slow, rhythmic and harmonic movements that are meant to recreate the water balance in the tissues, by pushing the lymph in the lymphatic stations thus avoiding the accumulation of liquids and toxins in the tissues. It is a very relaxing technique that also has another important goal: that is allowing the renewal of the interstitial fluid. This allows the cells to renew themselves and to live longer, thus facilitating the repair of the tissues compromised by wounds or irritating processes and, as a consequence, to improve their aspect.

One feature of the lymph drainage is that is must always be made without oil or any other fat substance. It is a dry massage that at most needs some talcum powder to facilitate the flow on the hands on the skin.

Which diseases is the lymph drainage useful for?

Dr Vodder’s Manual Lymph Drainage represents the cornerstone of the physiotherapeutic approach of primary and secondary lymphedema. However, this treatment can be inserted as a complementary therapy for other diseases, together with the physiotherapeutic and pharmacological therapy:

  • Venous insufficiency
  • In the presence of oedema following articular or muscular traumas
  • Rheumatological diseases
  • Chronic inflammation of the respiratory tract: sinusitis, chronic cold, chronic and asthmatic bronchitis, otitis and recurrent tonsillitis
  • Tinnitus, labyrinthitis, Ménière’s disease
  • Connective tissue diseases (scleroderma, SLE) and of the panniculus adiposus (lipoedema, localized lipoedema, PEFS and cellulitis).
  • Diseases of the central and peripheral nervous system, concussion, migraine and headache, trigeminal neuralgia, paresis of the facial muscles, apoplexy and multiple sclerosis.

What are the effects of lymph drainage?

  • Vegetative effect (stress reliever): the lymph drainage massage has a positive effect on the vagus nerve that forms the greatest part of the Parasympathetic nervous system. This system activates when we are in a calm and relaxed state thus giving rise to many beneficial effects: it reduces the heart rate, favours digestion and muscle relaxation, increases the bowel peristalsis and favours the “recovery” functions such as the immune one.
  • Analgesic effect (against pain): with a correct execution of the lymph drainage the inhibitory cells that reduce pain are excited.
  • Immunological effect: it can be presumed that the lymph drainage acts on the immune system as, due to the manual moving of the lymphatic fluid, the disease agents are led as soon as possible to the lymph nodes where they are made inoffensive.
  • Drainage effect: the lymphatic circulation’s task is to keep the catabolites concentration low in our tissues. If this function is not performed in an exhaustive way, our body brings other fluids back on site in order to dilute dross and maintain their concentration level acceptable. However, this leads to an excessive swelling. Therefore, to reduce oedema, it is necessary to reset the adequate disposal of these substances.

How can we recognize a good Vodder’s lymph drainage?

The lymph drainage always needs to start with a preliminary massage that needs to be practiced irrespective of the area to be treated. It is the neck discharge, which aims at opening the points of discharge. Indeed, it is made on the neck, part of the face and on the collarbones. Good lymph drainage reduces or makes the swelling disappear. It also eliminates the excess fluids (it increases urination).

Are there any contraindications?

The lymph drainage is totally contraindicated in case of acute inflammation (erysipelas), thrombosis and heart failure. There are also other diseases that need a preventive medical consultation (such as oncologic diseases).

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