Reflexology Lymphatic Drainage

Reflexology Lymph Drainage (RLD) is an award winning reflexology technique which focuses on stimulating the lymphatic reflexes on the feet. The aim is to cause an effect on the lymphatic system in the body. It is a unique sequence that has been researched and developed by Sally Kay BSc(Hons), whilst working in Cancer Care.  It is a wonderfully gentle treatment to receive.

In 2013/14 twenty six women who had developed swelling in their arm following breast cancer surgery took part in a research study* to assess whether Reflexology Lymph Drainage (RLD) could reduce their lymphoedema.  This Reflexology technique reduced the swelling for everyone who took part.  The benefits of RLD were not limited to fluid reduction as the women reported that their pain levels also went down and their feeling of wellbeing increased.

Thought to be relatively uncommon, a recent study has estimated that over 240 000** people in the UK may be affected by lymphoedema/chronic oedema.  As an approved Reflexology Lymph Drainage practitioner, I see first hand how physically, emotionally and psychologically challenging this painful and debilitating condition can be.

The lymphatic system is part of your immune system and provides a superfast highway for transporting your infection fighting cells. Less well known is the vital role it plays as a waste disposal system and maintaining the fluid balance in your body. 

The lymphatic system can be likened to a vast road network along which the lymphatic fluid flows carrying cell waste and bacteria away from the trillions of cells in our body.  At various points along the road it passes through filtering stations (lymph nodes) where immune cells – our bodyguards and police, destroy the microbes that could cause us harm. Then the lymph fluid is allowed to continue its journey back to the bloodstream and out of the body via the kidneys as urine.  If the lymphatic system is not working correctly, the fluid in the tissues builds up – imagine a blockage in a river or stream –  the lymphatic vessels are unable to cope with the amount of fluid in the area and swelling (flooding) occurs.

 Primary lymphoedema is the result of the impaired development of the lymphatic system itself.   Secondary lymphoedema is usually the result of damage or trauma either through surgery to remove lymph nodes in cancer treatment, radiotherapy, accidental injury or reduced mobility.  It can affect any part of the body but is most commonly seen in an arm or a leg. Once diagnosed, this condition may be managed using various techniques which include compression garments, exercise programmes, kinesio taping and Manual Lymphatic Drainage massage (MLD). Reflexology can work well alongside these programmes as it is clear from the 2013 study that it can have a very positive effect on getting the lymphatic system moving, but can also help relieve pain and increase wellbeing.

MLD is also used in conditions other than lymphoedema such as arthritis, asthma, eczema, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, sinus problems and migraines. Reflexology Lymph Drainage may be used similarly as a stagnant waste disposal system with unfiltered bacteria and toxins may lead to a variety of health disorders, so keeping your lymph flowing is vital.