Saturday, February 11, 2012

Lymphedema Stages and Exercises

Exercises with Stage 1

In this stage you are able to participate in just about any and all exercises. The only ones to be concerned with are high impact ones. Also, parachuting, hang-gliding and bungee jumping are definitely out (unless you are slightly jaded like I am, there probably is no need to warn about these).

Exercises with Stage 2

Stretch exercises - flexion, extension, abduction, rotation. The all include movements of the arms toward and away from you body, arms across your chest, behind your head and back.

Walking, Hiking, Jogging Swimming, Canoeing, Rowing Bowling, Archery, Bicycling Dancing, Sailing, Scuba Jiu Jitsu, Karate, Judo Sailing, Frisbee, Fencing Jogging, Skiiing, Shooting

What was that about being limited? This is only a partial list too.

Exercises with Stage 3

See the above - yes, even in stage 3 you can participate in all of the above sports. You may just have to modify how much and how long. It wasn't until the I had the lymphomas that greatly complicated my life that I finally had to eliminate those that put a higher amount of strain on my legs.

The rationale behind doing mild exercise is that muscle contractions, especially in the calf and arm, help to promote lymph flow to veins in the neck region where it returns to the blood circulation. Exercise also helps the proteins in lymph fluid to be reabsorbed. Both result in a lesser severity of lymphedema.

Although there is no consensus on the type of exercise regimen for people with lymphedema, all schools of thought agree that exercise is a necessary part of healing and that it should be tailored to each patient's needs and abilities. In general, it has been suggested that a monitored, progressive exercise program, in which a person slowly builds up their stamina and strength is far better than a strenuous one, no matter what the patient's previous athletic history. High speed activities such as golf, tennis, jogging or hiking at high altitudes are not suggested as they may actually increase lymphedema. Activities such as walking, swimming, light weights or cycling, in contrast are generally safe. For people with severe lymphedema who have a difficult time moving, even breathing enhances the pumping of lymph in the chest region. Deep breathing exercises such as mild yoga may be especially helpful to promote both relaxation and decrease lymph load.

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