Always start an exercise program gradually to avoid sprains and injury to muscles. It will also allow the person to observe how the edematousextremity responds to exercise. This will differ for each person. A compression garment or bandages should always be worn during exercise. This provides pressure on the limb and assists in pumping lymph from the extremity.
For women with post breast cancer treatment lymphedema in the arm, arm exercises should begin as soon as the doctor okays it. If the shoulder or wounds are sore, begin with mild pendulum exercises. Lean forward and let your arms hang down, then make circles. You can also swing them forward, backward and sideways. Once you can lift the arm over your head, you can begin active exercises.
An exercise program should involve all of the following movements:
a.Flexion (arms over the head close to the ear, palms toward the head) b.Extension (move straight arms toward your back) c abduction (arms away from the body, palms down) d.Horizontal abduction (move arms across the chest) e.External rotation (put hands behind your head) f.Internal rotation (put hands behind your back)
Once you can do these movements 30 times without weights, add one pound per week. Take your time. Begin with 10 and add 5 repetitions each day. If weight lifting adds to increased lymphedema, just do the exercise without the weight. Daily exercise should be done as long as motion is limited. Once you have full movement, you can exercise 3x per week.