Following a good exercise routine is the best gift that you can give to yourself. But have you ever wondered about what could be the best Lymphedema leg exercises that suit your comfort and are easy to do? Read along to know more about the perfect Lymphedema exercise program and say hello to happy legs!
If you have Lymphedema, leg exercises require a different approach than your regular exercise routine since following a vigorous routine might not adequately address the problem of swelling in your legs. Moreover, you might end up hurting yourself more in the process.
The Golden rule is- always consult your doctor or Lymphedema therapist before embarking on any adventurous do-it-yourself exercise programs. The best method is to begin with light leg exercises and know the limits of your body, which are likely to be affected due to Lymphedema.
So what exactly does Lymphedema have to do with legs in the first place? Well, the answer lies in little nodes, called Lymph nodes, which you might be familiar with from our previous blog post Lymphedema after Mastectomy.
Chemotherapy, mastectomy and/or lumpectomy involve the removal of lymph nodes from lymphatic regions- armpits, abdomen, groin- lead to the accumulation of lymphatic fluid in the affected area, resulting in swelling and discomfort. Especially in the case of Lymphedema in legs, the inflammation is caused due to the removal or impairment of lymph nodes in the groin region, severe infections or bone fracture.
Symptoms of Lymphedema in the legs include asymmetry in the appearance of the affected leg which might make your clothes or anklets feel tighter due to the abnormal swelling.
The best Lymphedema leg exercises should therefore aid in proper drainage of the lymphatic fluid away from the affected legs and improving its circulation to control the severity of the swollen lymph nodes. The good news is that you can do these optimal leg exercises while lying down or sitting in a chair! Here's how:
Step-wise Leg Exercise Program for Lymphedema
Wear Lymphedema Compression Garments- to enhance the circulation of lymphatic fluid and prevent its excess build up, wear a good compression garment of proper fitting. You can continue wearing it even after your exercise routine.
Begin with deep breathing- to unclog your lungs and stimulate your tired body, warm-up with deep breathing for getting the best benefit out of your lymphedema leg exercise program.
Sit on a chair and do these exercises twice a day, 10 sets for each leg- (order doesn't matter)
· Bring your leg to a horizontal position, stretch by keeping it straight, then bend your knees as far as your leg can go, come to normal position/relax, repeat alternately.
· Gently curl your toes while touching the ground with your heels, put your toes down, repeat alternately.
· Make clockwise and anti-clockwise movements with your ankles.
· Sit straight with or without back support and lift one of your knees towards your chest, then put it down, repeat alternately.
Lie down and do these exercises once/twice a day, 10 sets for each leg- (order doesn't matter)
· Lie down on your back, pull one of your knees towards your chest suiting your comfort, put it down, repeat alternately.
· Lie down pull your toes towards yourself, feel the stretch in back of the ankle, relax, repeat.
· Lie down on a bed on your back, hang your one of your legs in the air keeping your toes straight and feel the stretch in your calf, then relax and repeat alternately.
· Lie down on your sides (as shown in the picture) and do side leg raises, relax, repeat alternately
Swim, walk, or cycle- if you are an outdoorsy person, don't give up on these workouts. Just remember not to exert yourself too much.
This list is not exhaustive, so don't forget to consult your doctor. Keep up with your Lymphedema leg exercises to not let Lymphedema bog you down.
I actually just got done reading your arm exercises post as well. This blog has been a great find for me! Unfortunately, I have a very difficult time exercising my legs due to the swelling I deal with. However, I think I will at least be able to give some of these less strenuous exercises a try. But, like you suggested, I am going to give my doctor a ring before I give these Lymphedema leg exercises a shot.