Manual Lymph Drainage

Lymph Vessel System

The effects of Manual Lymph Drainage are numerous and generally it effects the nervous system, smooth muscles, fluid movement in the connective tissue and may have an effect on the immune system (though this has not yet been proven). Through the pumping and stretching effect on the lymph vessels, the Dr. Vodder method of Manual Lymph Drainage stimulates the contraction of lymph vessels, helping to move the lymph forward and drain the connective tissue. Scientific research in Europe (Hutzschenreuter, Mislin, Földi, et al.) has made this a well researched therapeutic technique..


Treatment is performed by certified Manual Lymph Drainage therapists who have undergone the four week, post-graduate, training program. Manual Lymph Drainage can be utilized in the treatment of many different conditions including:

  • Primary and Secondary Lymphedema
  • Venous insufficiency
  • Non-infected inflammatory conditions (e.g. sprains and strains)
  • Ulceration
  • Dermatological conditions
  • Circulatory disturbances
  • Sports injuries
  • RSD
  • Burns
  • Pre- and post- plastic surgery

Lymph Vessel System

The lymph vessel system carries excess water, proteins and wastes from the connective tissue back to the blood stream. During the transportation process the lymph is cleaned, filtered and concentrated. Many immune reactions occur in the lymph nodes. If the pathways become congested, blocked, damaged or severed, then fluids can build up in the connective tissue leading to edema. Eventually cell pathology may begin. If there is damage in the connective tissue (e.g. burns, chronic inflammation, ulceration, hematoma), then the lymph vessel system must transport the damaged cells, inflammatory products and toxins away from the area. The quicker this can happen, the faster recovery will be.


Emil and Estrid Vodder, Danish physical therapists practicing in France , developed Manual Lymph Drainage techniques in the 1930’s. They carried out much investigation on the lymph vessel system and developed a series of light, rhythmic manipulations in order to stimulate lymph flow and fluid movement. Encouraged by their success with patients, they developed a systematic approach to treatment of the entire body which they called 'Manual Lymph Drainage'. Later, they established the Dr. Vodder Center in Denmark and began teaching their method throughout Europe . They designated Hildegard and Günther Wittlinger in Austria to be their successors and to teach and to train teachers in this method. In 1971, the Wittlingers established the Dr. Vodder Schule in Walchsee , Austria – now an internationally recognized study center for the method. They brought the Dr. Vodder method to North America in the 1970's and established the Dr. Vodder method as the premier lymphatic drainage technique. The Dr. Vodder School – North America was established in 1994 to meet the growing demand for properly trained MLD/CDT therapists. The Vodder Center, Denmark and the Dr. Vodder Schule - Austria have authorized the Dr. Vodder School - North America as the only school in North America to teach the original Dr. Vodder method of Manual Lymph Drainage. The director, Robert Harris, began his training with the Wittlingers in 1983 and lectures internationally on the Dr. Vodder method of Manual Lymph Drainage.