Sunday, July 1, 2012

What's the Difference Between Lymphatic Massage and Lymph Drainage Therapy(LDT)?

On a first session with a new client I typically give them what I refer to as the Lymph lecture. It is a simplistic description of how the lymph system works, why it is important and how it directly relates to pain, malaise and other illnesses.

When I first started doing this years ago, less than 1% had any working knowledge of the lymphatic system. I am happy to report that those numbers have been increasing. People who are educated on the lymph system are still a dismally small number but it is promising that, at least in my practice, t
his number is on a steady rise.
So what is the difference between Lymphatic Massage and Lymph Drainage Therapy (LDT)? My primary massage practice is in Salt Lake City, Utah and in this state most of the people trained in lymphatic work have been trained in a technique that calls itself Lymph Drainage Therapy (a therapy developed by French doctor Bruno Chikley.) This is an uber light technique that helps to move fluid with the slightest pressure (5 grams or the weight of a nickel.)

LDT is based on a premise that the lymph cells will rupture with more than 5 grams of pressure and regenerate within 24 hours. I don't believe this is true. In my experience, when someone has severe lymphedema it is possible to rupture the lymph cells with too much pressure but the amount of pressure it takes to burst these cells is variable based on multiple factors. It may be 5 grams but not necessarily.

Severe Lymphedema (Light Pressure)
There is always an optimum pressure and finding that requires the therapist to have a finally developed sense of touch and sensitivity to their client's body.

For healthy people 5 grams will not rupture the lymph cell. When someone is extremely ill or has the most severe form of lymphedema...the almost imperceptible touch of LDT can be quite healing and do wonders for an overtaxed parasympathetic system.

For anyone who is healthy, moderately ill or has the kind of lymphedema caused by a mastectomy or adolescent onset...Lymphatic Massage is often the more effective and satisfying choice.

Moderate Lymphedema (Variable Pressure)
In Lymphatic massage...the lymph fluid is still being drained and depending on the expertise of the therapist there is potential for a much bigger release of toxins than in LDT. For a very ill person...too many toxins released at the same time can send them into a downward spin that can be challenging to overcome.
However, in the moderately ill to healthy person, releasing as many toxins as possible is desirable.

I do occasionally use LDT when the circumstance is warranted...but in my experience Lymph Massage is typically by far more effective and satisfying.

For those of you that have had both the uber light LDT and Lymph Massage (usually not by the same therapist), how do you notice the difference?

This article should not be a substitute for professional medical care
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