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Reflexology Lymphatic Drainage (RLD)

Updated: Aug 21, 2023

I have long wanted to do Sally Kay's RLD training as a friend of mine suffers from lymphoedema. It really is a debilitating chronic condition. The science behind the RLD technique complements my nursing background and the course did not disappoint!

So what is RLD and who can it potentially benefit?

RLD is an award winning, published and globally recognised reflexology technique. It was developed by Sally Kay ( whilst she worked in cancer care specifically helping breast cancer survivors with arm lymphoedema.

RLD was researched and developed gaining NHS ethical approval. The technique focuses on stimulating the lymphatic reflexes and the lymphatic system in the body


Lymphoedema is defined as swelling in the body's tissues. It is a chronic disabling condition which usually develops in the arms and legs ( and has significant impact on a persons' quality of life.

The lymphatic system is a network of vessels and glands throughout the body which drain excess fluid from the tissues and it also helps the body fight infection.


Symptoms of Lymphoedema

Symptoms of lymphoedema can include;-

  • hard/tight skin

  • repeated skin infections

  • an aching/ heavy feeling in the affected limb(s)

  • difficulty with movement in the affected limbs

Types of Lymphoedema

There are 2 main types of lymphoedema (

Primary Lymphoedema

This is thought to be genetic causing a faulty lymphatic system. It usually presents in infancy, puberty/adolescence or in pregnancy/ menopause in women. It is a rare condition affecting around 1 in 6000 people.

Secondary Lymphoedema

This is caused by damage to the lymphatic system. This can be from infection, injury, cancer treatments, an inability to move limbs or inflammation. Secondary lymphoedema is more common and affects 2 in 10 people with breast cancer.

Lymphoedema Treatments

Lymphoedema has no cure and it is treated by managing and controlling its symptoms. A common management is to use compression bandages to minimise fluid build up. Exercising the affected limbs also helps to move the built up lymph fluid. Good skin care is essential as the skin can become dry and taunt, which leaves it prone to splitting and infection.

A massage technique called manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) helps to stimulate the flow of lymphatic fluid through the system and it can help reduce swelling (

RLD may be used where MLD is advised as a treatment option and could be beneficial for other conditions including lymphoedema, such as

  • Arthritis

  • Asthma

  • Eczema

  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)/ Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME)

  • Muscular tension

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Migraines/ headaches

  • Sinus problems

  • IBS

Reflexology Lymphatic Drainage

RLD is non-invasive and a gentle treatment. The treatment follow a rhythmical sequence encouraging lymph from the upper and lower body to drain into the subclavian vein. It can be done on your feet or hands and you can remain fully clothed. Your shoes and socks are all that will need to be removed!

If you would like to try this wonderfully relaxing treatment or discuss any of the above information with me then do send me an email or give me a call.

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