Manual Lymphatic Drainage is NOT A MASSAGE. In massage therapy, we primarily work with muscle and other soft tissue structures. In Manual Lymphatic Drainage, we primarily work with FLUID.
While the lymphatic and cardiovascular systems both transport fluid throughout the body, the lymphatic system is thought to be a “less robust” system than the cardiovascular system, in-part, because the lymphatic system does NOT have a PUMP. The cardiovascular system's pump is our human heart and cardiac muscle.
In manual lymphatic drainage, we are trying to absorb and propel a milky white and often colorless fluid that bathes the tissues and drains through the lymphatic system into the bloodstream. It contains: water, proteins, cells, toxins, fats, waste, bacteria, viruses, etc.[i]
“The only difference between lymph and interstitial fluid is its location. If the milky white fluid is found in the spaces between body tissues, it is called interstitial fluid. If it is found in the lymphatic system, it is called lymph.”
Here is an instructor demonstration of belly pumping, which is thought to promote stagnant lymph to propel superiorly towards the subclavian veins to be "dumped" in the cardiovascular system for appropriate filtering and/or elimination:
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[i] Reference.com IAC Publishing Labs Company, found online June 24, 2016,
https://www. reference. com/science/lymph-differ-interstitial-fluid-cbe413fad52593d
 Reference.com IAC Publishing Labs Company, found online June 24, 2016, https://www. reference. com/science/lymph-differ-interstitial-fluid-cbe413fad52593d