Exercise & Athletic Recovery


Exercise & Athletic Recovery

Most athletes are interested in reducing their recovery time following intense exercise or sporting events. Until recently little actual scientific evidence was available demonstrating whether a manual lymphatic therapy provides physiological changes that indicate improved muscular recovery.

 A recent study in the American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, published in 2006, demonstrates the effectiveness of Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) in decreasing athletic recovery time. The study considered the effect of manual lymph drainage on three muscle enzymes that are produced following the breakdown of tissue during exercise.

As the following abstract outlines: manual lymphatic drainage is effective at increasing the rate at which serum muscle enzymes decrease after exercise and may indicate improved regeneration of structural damage to muscle cell integrity.

Therapists at Salutaris Centre for Lymphatic & Massage Therapy are certified by the Dr. Vodder School International, the most extensive MLD training program in the world, in the specific massage technique known as Manual Lymph Drainage. MLD is a gentle rhythmical massage that acts on both the lymphatic and nervous systems. It has been shown to increase lymph flow in the lymphatic channels by up to ten times normal levels – channeling the fluid into an effective drainage route.

Therapists can provide Manual Lymph Drainage as a standalone technique to accelerate muscular recovery or in combination with a variety of other massage therapy approaches.

 Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2006 Jun;85(6):516-20.

 Effect of manual lymph drainage on the course of serum levels of muscle enzymes after treadmill exercise.

Schillinger A, Koenig D, Haefele C, Vogt S, Heinrich L, Aust A, Birnesser H, Schmid A.


Centre for Internal Medicine, Department of Preventive and Rehabilitative Sports Medicine and the Centre for Physiotherapy, University of Freiburg, Hugstetterstrasse 55, D-79106 Freiburg, Germany.




Improving muscular recovery after exercise is an important topic in sports medicine. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the effect of manual lymph drainage on the course of serum levels of muscle enzymes after an extended treadmill exercise.


Fourteen recreational athletes (seven women, seven men) were included in the study. The participants underwent a graded exercise test on a treadmill ergometer to determine the individual anaerobic threshold (IAT). Seven days after the graded exercise test, all subjects performed 30 minutes of treadmill exercise at an intensity equivalent to IAT. The subjects were randomized into two groups of seven persons. One group was treated with manual lymph drainage (MLD), whereas the control group (CG) received no treatment after the endurance exercise at IAT level.


After an increase immediately after exercise, a fast decrease in lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) and in aspartate aminotransferase (AST) concentration was observed, with significantly lower values for LDH after 48 hrs in the subjects having received lymph drainage treatment. The course of creatine kinase (CK) levels was comparable, but did not reach significance.


Manual lymph drainage after treadmill exercise was associated with a faster decrease in serum levels of muscle enzymes. This may indicate improved regenerative processes related to structural damage of muscle cell integrity.


 Absolute & Relative Contra-Indications

Contra-indications are conditions or factors that serve as a reason to withhold a certain medical treatment. Due to the effectiveness of Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) in accelerating lymph flow there are a number of health concerns that do not allow individuals to receive MLD.   If you are experiencing any of the following situations please discuss these with a therapist prior to receiving any treatment:

  • Untreated Malignant Diseases
  • Acute Inflammations
  • Recent Thrombosis
  • Cardiac Insufficiency
  • Renal Failure