The Importance of Exercise for Lymphedema Patients- Small Steps Lead to Big Changes

Three older women practicing yoga

Importance of Exercise with Lymphedema

Lymphedema is a very challenging condition. Many of our customers who come to the shop looking for lymphedema compression products for their legs and arms have had trouble finding the perfect products to help them find comfort.

There’s no cure for lymphedema, but with the right tools, such as compression garments, exercise, lifestyle habits, and attitude, lymphedema is highly manageable.

It’s our job to help arm our customers with the knowledge needed to overcome their discomfort in the best ways possible. This can come in the form of educating them about the lymphedema compression products that are available for legs and arms from the fantastic brands we carry (Juzo, Jobst, Sigvaris and MediUSA), but it can also come in the way of educating people about the things they can do that are within their control.

Lymphedema is a condition of the lymphatic system, and it inhibits the body’s ability to drain fluids properly. This results in abnormal swelling, tenderness, and pain, usually occurring in an extremity such as an arm or a leg. For this reason, one of the best things a patient with lymphedema can do is to exercise. Understandably, for most of our customers suffering with the pain and discomfort that lymphedema brings, exercise is the very last thing they feel motivated to do.

With a little encouragement and a lot of guidance from a physician, these brave individuals often find the strength and motivation to muscle through lymphedema (pardon the pun) and make exercise a regular part of a healing lifestyle.

There are many ways that exercise is helpful for the treatment of symptoms of lymphedema:

  • Improvement of the flow of internal fluids, which reduces swelling.
  • Improvement of muscle strength, which helps to reduce the pain experienced in regular, day-to-day movement.
  • Weight reduction. If a patient is overweight, supporting extra pounds with an already tender limb can exacerbate symptoms of pain and swelling. Losing some weight can certainly help ease some of that pressure.

Physician support and direction is crucial to developing an exercise program for patients with lymphedema because there are some risks involved.

Some of the things a doctor may suggest to a patient with lymphedema when beginning an exercise and daily workout routine include:

  • Protect the skin from wounds while exercising by wearing comfortable and durable clothing.
  • Wear compression garments during workouts to improve fluid and blood flow.
  • Choose gentle, low-impact exercise such as walking or swimming (be sure to protect the affected limb while in the water).

We hear from many of our patients that their doctor has recommended yoga as an excellent choice for exercise. Not only does it help with stretching and strengthening, but the deep breathing will also help with circulation.

Again, we can’t stress enough that a doctor should always be consulted before beginning any exercise program, particularly for patients with lymphedema.

In conjunction with a healthy diet, regular compression from lymphedema products for legs and arms, and healing massage, exercise is one of the most important things a patient can do to take control of the symptoms of lymphedema. And in taking control, patients suffering from this disease can take their lives back, one step at a time. Contact us today to learn more.