When a portion of the lymphatic system gets injured by trauma, surgery or radiation or develops abnormally, the functionality of the lymphatic system is impaired. In any case, this can lead to swelling, which often affects the lower or upper extremities.
A well-balanced exercise program in combination with treatment options, night time compression garments and a lymphedema arm sleeve is best suitable for management of lymphedema of the arm. Well balanced exercise reduces the swelling and enables patients to continue with normal activities of daily living.
Exercise regimes can be customized by your certified lymphedema therapist so as to meet your individual goals. The factors that are taken into consideration include the stage and type of lymphedema, specific restrictions and limitations of joint and muscle activity as well as additional medical conditions. Perform the below mentioned exercises daily to reduce swelling caused by a build-up of lymph fluid:
Decongestive Exercises – Active and repetitive exercises play an important role in the treatment of lymphedema. Unlike the heart in the blood circulatory system, the lymphatic system does not have an active pump to propel lymphatic fluid back to the bloodstream. You can make your lymph flow active by stretching muscles or by being part of a joint activity. Decongestive exercises are most effective if performed with the patient wearing compression garments or lymphedema arm sleeve.
Abdominal Breathing Exercise – The downward and upward movement in diaphragmatic breathing helps your body in returning the lymphatic fluid back to the bloodstream. This exercise program including diaphragmatic breathing exercises is especially beneficial for the patients affected by lymphedema of the leg. The movement of the diaphragm, combined with the outward and inward movements of the abdomen, rib cage, and lower back promotes general well-being.
Resistive Exercises – Resistive Exercises improve muscular power and increase the strength in ligaments, tendons and bones. An additional benefit of these exercises is that they help in weight control. Resistive exercises need to be performed in a repetitive manner against an opposing load. There are certain strength exercises which are beneficial for lymphedema patients and should always be performed with the compression garment or lymphedema arm sleeve. However, discuss prior with your therapist and physician.
Aquatic Exercises – The buoyancy effect created by water on the muscular-skeletal system makes the movement all the more comfortable. When the person suffering from lymphedema swims in a lukewarm water pool, the range of motion and flexibility increases and the cardiovascular system starts working more effectively, thus making an aerobic workout possible. Additionally, the hydrostatic pressure acts like a “full-body garment” and helps to reduce swelling. Exercises done in water are effective in the treatment of lymphedema.
The above-mentioned exercises can help reduce swelling caused by a build-up of lymph fluid (lymphedema). The exercises position assists the patient in ways that help the lymph to drain. When you engage in repetitive motions, such as exercise, cleaning, yard work, golfing or tennis, it is a good idea to wear lymphedema arm sleeve. This is because it provides external pressure to assist lymph drainage and hopefully prevent additional swelling. Always check with your Certified Lymphatic Therapist before starting any type of exercise.