We know from research that exercise helps lymph move through the lymphatic system. Exercise makes the muscles contract and pushes lymph through the lymph vessels. A specific exercise program, designed to assist the lymph drainage from your swollen limb is an important part of your overall management for lymphoedema and something that you can do to help yourself.
Exercises have other benefits too.
They can help you to keep a full range of movement and make you feel better.
What you’re able to do will depend on:
- how fit you were before your treatment
- the type of treatment you had
- how severe your lymphoedema is
Talk to your doctor or lymphoedema specialist before you start any exercise as they can advise you about what you should and shouldn’t do.
Start exercising gently and build up slowly. Walking can be a good way to start if you haven’t done any exercise for a while. You can gradually increase the distance and the pace. Other examples include yoga, Tai chi, pilates, cycling, swimming or water aerobics.
Try to do some exercise every day. Think about how you can build it into your daily routine. You’re much more likely to carry on doing exercise if it becomes a regular part of your day.
Exercising with bandages on such as the Mobiderm Bandaging System further enhances the pumping action of the lymphatic vessels. Even wearing a daytime compression garment such as the Veno Elegance daytime compression sleeve or Venoflex micro compression sock whilst exercising can help create a greater pressure differential in the interstitial tissue, increasing lymph flow.
Deep breathing exercises help the flow of the lymph fluid through the body. It allows lymph to flow into the lymph system in the chest away from the area with lymphoedema.