Exercise Promotes Lymphatic Flow
In recent years exercise has been proven to help with lymphedema, but there are still a lot of questions about it. When you are wearing compression, exercise can further promote fluid drainage. The compression works with your muscles to help push fluid up and out of your limb. Your CLT will direct you in the correct exercises for your specific case of lymphedema, and it is recommended that you do not begin any exercise program without consulting your physician or therapist first.
When you have lymphedema, the general rule for starting any exercise program is “Start Low, Go Slow!” You need to allow your body and your lymphatic system to adjust to the new level of activity and you need time to monitor how your body is handling it. This can especially be hard if you used to exercise a lot before you were diagnosed with lymphedema.
Make sure to start with a low level of resistance and shorter amounts of time than you would normally. Even if you think you’re going too slowly or taking it too easy, don’t be impatient! Start Low, Go Slow! You can build up to any level of activity that you and your therapist feel is appropriate for you, just take your time getting there.
A Patient's Story of Perseverance
Watch Deborah’s story about how she persevered in her lymphedema and became a top CrossFit athlete, winning the Spirit of the Games Award in 2012.
If you feel any new symptoms like aching, heaviness, or tingling during or after exercise, you may have pushed a little too much. Always listen to your body! You might want to take it slower or lighten the load for your next session. If you have any pain in your limb or joints, or feel uncomfortable in any way, stop exercising and consult with your therapist.