Reflexology Lymphatic Drainage (RLD)

A major part of being healthy is to ensure that any toxins entering our system are effectively identified by the body and escorted out in a harmless fashion.  There are many systems, organs, and glands in place to make sure this occurs, but unfortunately, many of them have become clogged and compromised to the point of complete dysfunction.  One of those important systems that aid in the removal of toxins and has become incapacitated in many ways, is the lymphatic system.


The lymphatic system is a complex drainage or “sewer” system that consists of glands, lymph nodes, the spleen, thymus gland, and tonsils.  Its role is to cleanse our cells by absorbing excess fluids, fats, other wastes, toxins, viruses, infections  and diseases from our tissues and into the blood where it can eventually be filtered out by the liver and kidneys.


A RLD is an easy way to detoxify your lymph system for proper elimination.  Unfortunately, due to our toxic burden (metals / chemicals etc), nutritional deficiencies, and relative inactivity, this system has become increasingly polluted.  If you suffer from any of the following, it may be a sign your lymphatic system needs a serious cleanse:


  • Inflammation

  • Skin conditions (Eczema)

  • Arthritis

  • Excess weight or water retention

  • Headaches

  • Chronic fatigue

  • Sinus infections

  • Digestive disorders

  • Oedema

  • Tiredness

  • Low immunity


Especially successful for:


  • Arthritis / Rheumatoid arthritis

  • Asthma / Allergies / Sinus Problems

  • Chronic fatigue

  • Digestive / IBS

  • Fibromyalgia

  • ME  (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) / MS (Multiple Sclerosis)

  • Injury / Infection / Post operative

  • Inflammation

  • Lymphoedema / Oedema / Water retention

  • Migraines / Headaches

  • Muscular tension / Aches & pains

  • Premenstrual Syndrome

  • Sinusitis

  • Skin conditions



RLD for Lymphoedema

Reflexology Lymph Drainage (RLD) helps reduce lymphoedema after treatment for breast cancer.  RLD is also useful for clients with other (non-cancer related) more common conditions and can be effective for those suffering with autoimmune disorders.  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.  Please click on this RLD research poster to see more details of Sally’s research. 


As we know, the other Lymphatic drainage massage is called Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) and this is used to treat conditions other than lymphoedema and RLD can be used similarly. 

History of RLD - from Sally Kay’s website

RLD was developed through clinical practice while working in cancer care outpatient clinics, using reflexology for patients suffering from all kinds of cancers at all stages of the disease. Many of the patients had been treated for breast cancer and consequently suffered secondary lymphoedema.  Complaints relating to lymphoedema often included, a swollen arm, painful shoulder, uncomfortable underarm swelling, weakness and problems with everyday living activities. In summertime patients found the support sleeve uncomfortable in the heat as well as unsightly and it was often described as “a label”, and “a constant reminder”.


Clinic appointments were time limited.  The treatment focused on the primary concern of the patient and was adapted accordingly. During the time there, it became apparent that patients who had swollen arms and pockets of fluid under their armpits were deriving great benefit from reflexology treatment. As the treatment progressed patients could feel tingling in the swollen arm while the corresponding foot reflexes were stimulated. Their clothing and jewellery seemed much looser after treatment and their swollen arm felt more comfortable.

Patients who had received this treatment experienced less discomfort and swelling and an increase in strength and arm mobility. RLD protocol was developed and formalised, it is performed on the feet and is tailored to the affected arm. It differs according to which side has been treated for breast cancer.


As this pattern began to emerge in patients who received RLD, so did the prospect of measuring the effect of reflexology with objective measurements. With the support of Hospice of the Valleys, training in limb volume circumferential measurement (LVCM) was arranged. This enables the volume of fluid held in each arm to be calculated, and compared before and after treatment, and then compared with the non swollen arm.

A research proposal was submitted and NHS ethical approval was granted. Six participants were given RLD treatments, once a week for four consecutive weeks and measurements were taken before and after each treatment.  All of the participants reported feeling movement of fluid during their reflexology treatment.



Comments at the end of the study included the following:

‘I feel like I’ve got my arm back’
‘I feel good about myself and it has helped my confidence. The sleeves on my clothes feel looser.’
‘I can make a fist’
‘I feel normal again’

Please visit Sally’s websitefor more information on her ground breaking research.

Information, research about Lymphatic system