Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) is a type of gentle massage which is believed by proponents to encourage the natural circulation of the lymph through the body. The lymph system depends on peristalsis and the movement of skeletal muscles to squeeze fluid through lymph ducts and vessels.
Manual Lymphatic Drainage was pioneered by Dr. Emil Vodder in the 1930s for the treatment of chronic sinusitis and other immune disorders. While working on the French Riviera treating patients with chronic colds, they noticed these patients had swollen lymph nodes. In the 1930s it was taboo to tamper with the lymphatic system due to the medical profession's poor understanding of this system. The Vodders were not deterred by this, and in 1932 began to study the lymph system, and developed careful hand movements to cause lymph movement. In 1936 after four years of research they introduced this technique in Paris, France.
It is now recognized as a primary tool in Lymphedema management. Therapists can today receive certification through special classes conducted by various organizations specializing in MLD.