Postural Evolution LLC

Experience Change

Manual Lymph Drainage

The history of manual lymphatic drainage

Emil Vodder, PH.D., M.T. (Copenhagen, Denmark)

Emil Vodder, PH.D. (1896-1986) Estrid Vodder (1898-1996)

In 1932 Dr. Vodder and his wife were working as massage therapists in Cannes on the French Riviera. The majoirty of their patients were English who were there to recover from their colds, which, caused by the permeating dampness of their homeland, had taken on a chronic character. The Vodders discovered that all the patients had swollen lymph nodes in their necks. At the time the lymphatic system was taboo for massage therapists-even for physicians. The prevailing view was to take no notew whatsoever of it. Vodder dared to break the taboo and reated the sweollen lymph nodes intuitively and successfully. The colds vanished. Thus supported by this successess, he developed the MLD...

His method was first made known to the public in 1935. His first publication appeared in 1936 in Paris. From this time on he remained active as a massage therapist, held lectures, gave demonstration treatments with his wife and taught courses. Also, the term "manual lymph drainage" was coined by the Vodders. This gives them the claim as the originators.

(Klose Trainig & Consulting)


What is MLD?

The lymph vessels affected my MLD are less than one millimeter in diameter on average. Superficial, valveless lymph capillaries are even smaller in diameter. For these reasons, MLD must have a gentle and careful touch (about the pressure of a nickle). Although the application is slow and gentle, it must be strong enough to gently stretch the skin to drain the lymph vessels, but not glide over the skin like in a massage. To prevent any gliding motion over the skin, no lotion is used and skin to skin is best (not through clothes). 

The general principals of manual lymph drainage consist of 4 basic techniques, developed by Vodder, to increase the movement of lymph and interstital fluid (fluid found around the cells). each technique is adapted to follow the anatomy and physiology of the lymphatic system. They are also modified and combined when addressing specific areas of the body. The application of technique is a rate of about 1/second with 5-7 repetitions per area.

Four Basic Techniques

  • Stationary Circle
  • Rotary Technique
  • Pump Technique
  • Scoop Technique



Manual lymphatic drainage could help various patients with their health ailments. Listed below are some conditions that could benefit from MLD treatment.

  • Edema from injuries and post surgery
  • Lymphedema
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic Pain
  • Chronic Lyme Disease
  • Inflammation
  • Arthritis
  • Migraines and headaches
  • Fluid Retention
  • Joint and muscle pain




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