The History of Lymphatic Drainage Massage

December 4, 2018 BY Rochelle Clark

I have worked as a lymphatic drainage massage therapist for almost twenty years, but the history of this practice dates back nearly 100 years. Often, my clients ask me how lymphatic drainage massage got its start. Well, in this post I answer that question.

Let’s look at how what is also known as the Vodder lymphatic drainage, was discovered along with its many health benefits.

The Father of Lymphatic Drainage

During the 1930s, a man named Emil Vodder moved from Denmark to France due to poor health. However, his deep interest in anatomy never wavered and an intense fascination with the lymphatic system. As a result, he developed a massage technique, later called Vodder lymphatic drainage, and presented it at a conference in Paris.

By the 1960s, his lectures started to draw attention from doctors who admired his work and made the connection between this massage technique and lymphoedema. In 1965, Emil Vodder made another presentation describing breathing, dieting, and relaxation techniques to accompany lymphatic drainage massage.

Vodder’s lymphatic massage techniques involved rhythmic manipulations to stimulate lymph flow and fluid movement. After much success with his patients, he developed a series of techniques for a more systematic approach. This technique eventually became known as Manual Lymph Drainage.

In the 1970’s the Vodder lymphatic drainage technique was brought from Austria to North America. It became increasingly important for the skin and beauty industries as well.

Today, Manual Lymphatic Drainage Massage is one of the most widely practice massage techniques throughout the world. Read more about Vodder and his connection with Manual Lymphatic Drainage Massage.

The Many Medical Conditions Lymphatic Massage Treats

Of course, it isn’t uncommon for my clients to ask me how or what conditions Manual Lymphatic Drainage Massage can treat. The answer is, the list is endless! In my personal practice, I use lymphatic massage to treat the following conditions:

  • Lyme Disease
  • Sinusitis
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Pre-& Post-Surgical Recovery
  • Cleansing and Detoxing the Body
  • Edema (If Unrelated to Heart or Kidney Disease)
  • Traumatic Injury
  • Veinous Insufficiency
  • Mini Facelifts
  • Digestive Disorders
  • Immune Disorders
  • Cancer Related Symptoms

I am always amazed by how many conditions lymphatic massage can treat. Improving the health of my clients is my goal, and lymphatic drainage massage is one more piece to a healthy lifestyle. It can also be used to improve weight loss, as I outlined in my recent blog post.

Why Lymphatic Massage Is Important & Who It’s For

The lymphatic system is designed to support the immune system while nourishing and cleansing cells. If your lymphatic system begins to fail, so will your overall health. The good news is, lymphatic massage techniques can reverse environmental elements and poor lifestyle decisions that lead to a compromised lymph system.

In reality, lymphatic massage is important for everyone. This is especially true if you sit at a desk all day or lead an inactive lifestyle. The lymph system doesn’t circulate like blood or other bodily fluids, which means it relies on physical activity to properly move lymph fluid throughout the body. Manual Lymphatic Drainage Massage is one way to do that.

However, I highly recommend lymphatic drainage massage for edema, which can occur as a result of cancer treatments, or anytime your body is post-surgery.

To schedule an appointment with me for a Manual Lymphatic Drainage Massage, please use my contact page. I look forward to supporting your healthy lifestyle goals.

2 Responses

  1. Melissa says:

    Good Information on Lymphatic drainage. I took classes in massage school . I know the marshmallow pressure you hardly feel anything. I don’t know it just didn’t work for me . I don’t even use it on my clients as they don’t like it. People I work on prefer Deep Tissue or Thai massage. I have had Lymphatic on me. I didn’t see the results for the mini facelift. May be it was that the lady who did it didn’t do the right protocol? I don’t know ? Each to their own right? I’m sure there is people who like it? It’s not used in my part of the country.

  2. Thanks for the article, I practice Lymphatic drainage too. A thought to share with Melissa, When you say it didn’t work for you, were you using it for a specific purpose? And yes you are right, it can depend alot, as with all manual therapy, on the techniques used by the therapist and their skill level.
    Lymphatic drainage therapy works to improve lymph flow to and through muscles, tendons and fascia too. If you have some skills you learned at school, you could do amazing things by adding some lymphatic drainage to a session with your most chronically tight massage patients – the ones you massage and they’re tight again the next week and have to keep coming back weekly to relax. By improving fluid flow to muscles, tendons and fascia and removing waste more efficiently you can help tissues move into a more harmonious state from the inside out – better for everyone, including your hands. It might not be so good for business if they dont have to come as often but your increased reputation for being a masterful massage therapist should make up for that! No doubt you’re alreay masterful in deep tissue, lymphitic work could make your sessions even better. Just a thought to share. Thanks for the opportunity to comment

Leave a Reply

Find Support and Relief in your Healing Journey

Your personalized treatment begins with a complimentary telephone consultation.

The Art of Healing Touch