Gentle lymphatic drainage leg exercises are a great way to reduce lymphedema. When done right, they can aid in moving the fluids in the body a little better. 

How Lymphedema Develop

There are two different types of lymphedema - the primary and the secondary lymphedema. Primary lymphedema often results from abnormalities in the lymphatic system. It is usually associated with congenital or genetic abnormalities such as Milroy’s disease.


Secondary lymphedema, on the other hand, results from damage in the lymphatic system. It can be a result of trauma, infection, surgery, or radiation. The most common cause of secondary lymphedema is cancer treatment. Cancer surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy usually causes damage to the otherwise healthy lymph nodes and vessels. Damage to these lymphatic structures can lead to fluid buildup in the affected site.

Recommended Lymphatic Drainage Leg Exercises

Muscle activity promotes lymphatic drainage. Hence, those who are affected by lymphedema are encouraged to get into regular physical activity.


If you have fluid buildup in your lower extremities, the following lymphatic drainage leg exercises can benefit you:


1.  Leg Falls

Begin by lying down on your back. Bend both of your knees while you keep both feet on the floor or bed. While keeping one leg in place, slowly lower the other leg out to the side. Bring this leg back to the center. Repeat this exercise with the other leg.


2. Leg Slides

Lay down with both legs straight. With the other leg in place, slowly slide the other leg out to the side and return it to the center. Repeat with the other leg.

Make sure that you keep both legs straight and pointing up while doing this leg exercise.


3. Ankle Inversion/Eversion

Ankle inversion/eversion is done by moving your foot side to side. For best results, repeat this for 10 times for each foot.


4. Ankle Pumps

Starting in a comfortable position, move your foot up and down for 10 times as if you’re pushing something down or letting up a gas pedal. Do this for the other foot.


5. Toe Curls

Curl your toes under then spread them apart. Repeat this for the other foot.

Lymphedema can get worse. When that happens, it can significantly affect your mobility. Trying these lymphatic drainage leg exercises can make a difference especially if you’re still in the early stages of lymphedema.


Image: USAG - Humphreys
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