Archives for the month of: January, 2013

Well.  It’s time for something different.  People look at me a little strangely when I say I “do” the Emmett Technique.  And I have to say it’s a tricky technique to explain without demonstrating how it works.  I’ll try a brief explanation here, let’s see how I go.

“The Emmett Technique uses switches and holding points to effect immediate releases in surrounding muscle tissue” (a direct quote from the Emmett website,  To me that doesn’t cover it … not even close.  I’d take it further to say something like there can be an immediate improvement in the range of motion and a decrease in the pain in the area (not every time of course, but 99% of the time).   Here’s a few ways I might apply it:

Someone comes in for their regular lymphatic treatment, you ask the general, “how’s your body feeling today?”, response, “oh, the arm’s pretty good, but my neck has been hurting for about a week, every time I turn”.  So I sit the person down, fully clothed and apply three or four Emmett moves (about 5-10 minutes worth of treatment time) and their pain decreases and they can get on the table and settle fully into the lymphatic treatment without focusing on the pain in their neck.

Or I mention it to a client and they’re not so sure, so at the end of the treatment I get them up and dressed again and throw in five minutes worth of Emmett.  Pretty much guaranteed they ask for some at the next session.

I also use it when I do voluntary work at fundraisers/charity events.  See picture below, taken at a Breast Cancer Girls Night In last year.


I have to share the most miraculous change I’ve experienced using the Emmett Technique.  My memory is a bit sketchy on details now, but you’ll get the gist.

I went for a walk with a friend in Manly and we saw a friend of hers, started chatting and 15 minutes later we were sitting on a bench having a coffee and long story short, there I was, on the ground working on his calves and feet.  His second toe had moved out of position and was jammed up against his third toe, painful and uncomfortable.  He’d been to see doctors and even a surgeon who had suggested pinning the toe during surgery but he had decided against doing anything.  So, there we sat, with me having to remind him to relax (do you know how hard it is to relax when you’re told to do so?).  He swore he was, but his leg was sticking out for me to work on, a dead giveaway.  Finally he decided to sit back, fold his arms and close his eyes and chill out.  As I was holding points on either side of his forefoot I watched his second toe move, and not just a little move, I mean really move.  So fast it took me by surprise and in fact, in overcorrected and ended up jammed up to his big toe!  I have to admit I did give a little shriek.  It was the most amazing movement I’ve ever seen.  Well, after walking up and down for a little the discomfort he had been feeling was much less, but the toe hadn’t come to centre.  He did come for a couple sessions in the clinic and while we were able to help the pain, no matter what I did I couldn’t get his toe in the exact right place but it wasn’t all that bad.  I suspect that the changes we made in the clinic were undone by his workboots, which were probably rubbing one of the points we use to bring release so unfortunately it’s one of those out of my control issues.

One of the things Ross Emmett likes to point out again and again is that our clothes/shoes can create some of our problems by restricting full movement or stimulating points constantly, putting muscles into overwork.  Read more about Ross and the treatment at  They run one day EmmTech courses for the lay person and I’d really recommend attending one, your friends and family will love you for it.

And it can be a good thing.  I have worked with three lovely little old ladies for the last two years, in their own homes, without a table.  Two I work with on their beds, clambering all over to reach the bits that I need to get too.  The third I see in her easy chair.  I have enjoyed every minute of the time I have spent with them as even though their bodies are frail, their minds are sharp and there are always stories (sometimes you hear the same one, but that’s ok, there’s always an added extra embellishment).  One is 91 and the other two are 87, spring chickens in comparison!  I have, on some level, dreaded the day that I lose one of them.

Yesterday I had the call.  N,  one of the 87 year olds passed away this weekend.  It may sound strange, but I am happy for her.  She was a tiny woman with major spine deformities, constant pain from them and most frustrating for her – itching all over her body that just wouldn’t ever stop.  She had a number of falls and hospitalisations in the last year and was timid and fearful.  Usually somewhere during our session she would sigh, shrug her shoulders and say “well, I guess all I can hope is that it will get better”.  She was trying to hold on to some hope even though on some level I’m sure she knew she wouldn’t improve.  Luckily for her, she still had her husband by her side and he is still strong as a rock.  At 87 he’d hop on his computer and pay for the treatment online!  Bless.  What a champion.

The end was mercifully quick and painless.  She got up from lunch to get a drink, said “I think I’m going to fall”, collapsed with a stroke and passed away on the way to hospital.  No more suffering.  She is at last pain free.  Rest in peace N. x

Absolutely everything!  And yet, most people have no idea what their lymphatic system does and how important it is to your everyday life.

Your lymphatic system is your first line of defense against infection.  When pathogens enter your system, eg, cold or flu virus, the lymphatic system kicks into gear, filtering out as many of the invading germs as possible.  At the same time T cells, B cells and natural killer cells are produced which are released throughout the body to “wipe up” the germs that managed to escape. (Obviously this is a very simplistic explanation.)  When you’re sick and go to the doctor one of the first things they do is check to see if your glands are up – basically, what they are checking is to see if the lymphatic system has started it’s job of protecting the body by producing extra antibodies – the nodes swell in response to the extra activity.  They may check your neck, armpit or groin area.  Remember in the last post I talked about clearing the main collections of nodes?  Those three areas are included when you are doing your own clearing.  They are also the easiest and most prominent collections to feel or see.

So, in relation to the immune system – what’s lymphatic drainage good for?

  • Those who have been “under the weather” and can’t seem to get on top of it
  • Those with immune disorders, eg, chronic fatigue, glandular fever (or Mono to those in the USA), or chronic conditions such as asthma (note, treatment cannot be given during a flare up of any condition)

Another big function of the lymphatic system is to remove interstitial fluid from tissue.  In simple terms the blood capillaries pick up waste material from tissue but they are not big enough to remove protein molecules so the lymphatic capillaries carry out that job.  If the lymphatics are not working properly and the protein isn’t removed from the tissue, the result is fluid collecting in the tissue.  The result? Swelling or odema.  Not pleasant.

In relation to fluid, what’s lymphatic drainage good for?

  • Reducing fluid retention post surgery, sprain/strain/bruising
  • Reducing symptoms of any fluid-related condition, eg, sinus (again, treatment cannot be administered during an infection, but once the acute phase is passed then it is very beneficial)
  • Lymphedema in all it’s forms, whether primary (usually inherited, it can appear at birth, during the teenage years or may come on later in adulthood) or secondary (after some sort of trauma to the nodes – surgery, radiation, accidents)

ImageLymphedema of the arm

The lymphatic system is also your detoxification system.  As mentioned earlier, the lymph carries away waste products from the tissue to the elimination organs – kidneys in particular.  So it is very helpful alongside any detoxification programs being undertaken.

Lymphatic drainage can help to normalise hormones, helping to reduce acne, or painful periods.  It can also help with hormone related headaches.

There are however, some absolute contra-indications to having lymphatic drainage and at the first consult with every client I see I take a detailed history.  Anyone with cardiac or renal insufficiency cannot be treated.  I will treat clients with other heart or kidney conditions, but depending on the case I will insist on a doctor’s referral.  If you’re in the acute phase of an illness (ie, you’re running a temperature, are absolutely streaming with snot, or have a raging rash) it is not advisable to have manual treatment of any type.

Who do I see most?  Women who have been through breast cancer mainly, but also melanomas, cervical or other gynecological cancers.  Some come along pre and post surgery.  Sinus issues present themselves fairly regularly too. I also see clients who are on a detox diet or regime, who want a little extra cleansing.  And there are some who come along just because they find it relaxing and it keeps their immune system in check.


Visit my website here to find out more about the other techniques I use

About 70% of what I do is lymphatic drainage. Strange then that I didn’t speak about it first up. Today’s the day.

And that’s prompted by a client I saw this week.  It was his third visit, but I hadn’t seen him over the Christmas/New Year period as he was busy.  He’s not my typical MLD client – they’re usually middle-aged women who have been through breast cancer.  He had some vascular surgery a couple months ago, the result of which was swelling and tightness in his calves and his surgeon suggested some MLD – that in itself is an unusual event – surgeons aren’t usually up on the benefits of MLD, a fantastic start to our relationship.  I find that when I treat blokes I go through the mechanics of how the treatment works and the rationale of the treatment, their minds like to see how things happen and it was no different with him.  We had planned weekly treatments at the start to bring the condition under control with the aim being to get to monthly sessions.

Yesterday when he came in, he seemed a little disgruntled.  When I asked how he felt after the treatments, he replied that he hadn’t noticed any change.  After I pointed out that we hadn’t done any work in three weeks and we have had blisteringly hot weather (41 degrees a few days prior) he calmed down a bit and I explained again the aim of what we were trying to do.

So.  In a case where there’s swelling in two legs (worse in one) post surgery, what is the plan?  Simple.  MLD is all about clearing the main collections of nodes in the body, then pushing fluid towards the cleared nodes.  Easy! But where are the main nodes I hear you asking (well, that’s what I would ask).  Here’s a brief biology lesson for you …

The most important nodes are at the base of the neck in the little triangle between your neck and your shoulder.  That’s where the lymphatic and venous systems join.  Here’s a photo (you have no idea how hard it is to find an appropriate one, so this is a selfie as I have a really prominent “triangle”).  You make small, gentle circles to open up the nodes.



Next, we move to the axillas (that’s armpits to those not familiar with the correct terminology).  More circles there.  No need for a photo, we all know what those look like.  Then there are a number of deep lymphatics in the abdomen and finally the inguinals (when I explain what those are I usually say “along the panty line”).  In the graphic below (not a selfie!), I’ve put the red oval over the area …



Once all the main nodes are cleared then I do some work in the chest and abdomen to make sure the trunk of the body is clear.

In the case of this client, the next step was to create a pathway away from the affected/damaged nodes in the inguinals up towards the axilla.  This encourages the body to create new lymphatic pathways, taking the pressure away from the affected area.  Once the pathway was established I started to clear the leg, from the topmost part, pushing fluid along the side of the body up towards the armpits, then working my way down the leg.  In a normal, remedial massage, the stroke usually starts from the bottom of the leg, pushing up towards the body.  With lymphatic drainage the direction is still up towards the body, but it’s done incrementally, starting from the top of the leg.  It’s like unblocking a drain – you clear the blockage then move little bits at a time so that you don’t reclog the area you just cleared.  As you work down the leg the tightness begins to release and the lymphatic flow increases.  The client can sometimes feel tingling or sensation as the fluid begins to flow again.  Heaven.  This whole process can take up to an hour, longer sometimes.  At the end of the treatment I clear the main nodes again, along the panty line, the abdomen, the armpits and the triangle at the base of the neck.

The result?  Less swelling, less tightness and less pain and lots of running to the bathroom!  Huh? Where did that come from?  Well, when you remove fluid from the tissue it rejoins the blood supply and is filtered through the venous system – through the heart then through the kidneys then, you guessed it, you find yourself running to the bathroom.

Next post – what can MLD be used for?  What are the other benefits?

Visit my website here to find out more about the techniques I use.