An important component of complex decongestive therapy is movement. This has a reason: when you move, lymphatic fluid is drained more effectively, your mobility increases and your mood is lifted. Find out in this article which exercises and sports are suitable, and why compression is indispensable.
Exercise is not only beneficial for the cardiovascular system but also for your mind. People who keep active suffer less frequently from mental problems. Researchers from the Universities of Oxford and Yale found that out. Reasons for the good mood include serotonin and dopamine. These endorphins are able to reduce stress and anxiety.
This is a good reason for patients suffering from lymphedema to incorporate exercise into their everyday lives. After all, those affected have to invest a lot of time and primarily discipline into the life-long self-management of their condition. Exercising can drive away negative thoughts and increase self-confidence when you have lymphedema. Most of all, however, it helps you drain the lymphatic fluid that has pooled in your tissue. We will show you what you need to bear in mind before you get going.
Lymphedema and exercise – not mutually exclusive!
Swollen legs, tension and pressure-sensitive skin: not the best conditions to start exercising. But exercise is one of the five pillars of complex decongestive therapy, which is known to be the most effective method of managing lymphedema. And not without reason: physiotherapy exercises and gentle activity such as yoga, walking, Nordic walking and aqua aerobics provide patients with more mobility and reduce swelling. The latter is thanks to what we call “muscle pump”. When muscles are tensed and then relaxed, pressure is exerted on the lymph vessels. The result: the accumulated lymph can drain much more easily. At the same time, regular exercise counteracts obesity, which can promote lymphedema.
Which exercise for lymphedema?
In general, activities and sports that protect your joints are suitable. This includes swimming and other activities in water, such as aqua jogging or aqua cycling. Exercise in water has another practical side effect: the water pressure ensures that lymph can drain from the tissue. But please bear in mind that patients suffering from lymphedema should avoid warm water days because heat promotes the development of lymphatic fluid. Yoga, walking and cycling are alternatives on dry land.
Compression stockings for lymphedema – your sporty companions
Our movement mentor Christina demonstrates: the be-all and end-all of lymphedema management is compression. Every single day and during exercise, too, of course. The VenoTrain curaflow, for example, is the appropriate stocking model for lymphedema. These flat-knit compression stockings alleviate painful tension, support lymphatic drainage, and are also breathable. High-quality, gentle materials turn compression stockings into your daily companions during self-management. They will help you live an active life again without pain.