Interested in learning more about Decongestive and Breathing Exercises for lymphedema?
Then check out this article detailing how to do both; and a video of a very gentle decongestive exercise class.
The hot and hazy days of summer are here, which means that it’s time to indulge in all the sunshine and awesome outdoor activities, we craved all winter. However, for people living with lymphedema, the heat and humidity of the summer also brings on something no one wants: more swelling. That’s why keeping cool is a must for anyone affected by the condition, as the mercury climbs. And what better way to beat the summer heat than taking to the water?
In addition to being a great way to cool down on a hot day, partaking in some water play or exercise:
With Water, Temperature Matters:
Whether you prefer to hit your local pool or a lake at the cottage, it’s important to be aware of the temperature. Remember that water 20-30 degrees is the safest range, and that the cooler that water the longer you can stay in it. Avoid water that is too hot or too cold, as extreme temperatures can exacerbate your symptoms.
Get in the Water and Move:
While in the water keep your affected limbs or body parts beneath the water, as often as you can and swim (breaststroke is great for swelling in the arm and chest), walk, march (with high knees), or kick. Do shoulder rolls, arm circles, or simply move your arms through the water (just beneath the surface) in front of you. The key is to listen to your body, by doing what feels comfortable and right for you.
A word of caution: If after exercising in the water, you notice any increase in swelling, it’s a sign that you pushed yourself too hard. In your next session, just reduce the duration and/or intensity of your exercise to prevent your symptoms from worsening.
For more information on ideas of about specific exercises and movements to do in the water check out the video below.
It's Lymphedema Awareness Day, and in celebration of this awesome occasion, I thought I'd share a video of someone THRIVING with lymphedema. Enjoy...
March is finally here, and for the next 30 days many of us who are living with or working with individuals living with lymphedema will be doing all we can to raise awareness.
So, to kick things off this month I've compiled a list of links to websites that focus on helping you learn all you can about lymphedema. After all, as they say knowledge is power.
The Lymphie Life
Loving Life with Lymphedema
Lymph Fantastic (in English and German)
These are just a small sampling of the type of links I'll be posting all month long, so check in again soon. Also, please share the links above with anyone you think would benefit from learning more about lymphedema.
Till next time, here's to increased Lymphedema Awareness this month and beyond.
As a therapist who works in private practice, as well as at Cancer Survivor and Rehabilitation Clinic at a local hospital, I encounter many patients who are just coming to terms with their lymphedema diagnosis. Many arrive for their appointments feeling discouraged by the unwelcome changes in their bodies (i.e. the inability to complete activities of daily living due to pain), fearful about just how large the affected area will become, and uncertain about what (if anything) can be done to reduce or stop the swelling. Which is why, in addition to providing them with the most effective treatments I can, I spend a good portion of my day encouraging them to take a more active role in their treatment.
For many lymphedema patients, depending solely on healthcare professionals and/or the goodwill of their family members to manage their symptoms seems like a good idea initially. Why? Because dealing with the demands of their families, work and the seemingly unending string of medical appointments is more than enough to keep them running of their feet. As a result, it’s not uncommon for them to be resistant to the idea of adding yet one more thing to their long list of ‘to do’s’. However, when the pain and swelling become too intense to be ignored, they quickly realize that learning to manage their symptoms on their own is a necessity. Unfortunately, in a lot of cases, by the time these patients get onboard the self care train, so to speak, the changes in size and mobility of their affected body part are often dramatic; resulting in the need for more intensive treatment protocols.
Luckily, once they embrace the notion that putting in the time and effort to control their symptoms – between ‘tune up’ treatments by a therapist – yields the best results, these patients immediately start to feel better. I’m not exaggerating when I say I’ve literally seen people arrive for their appointments one week on the of verge of tears due to pain and feelings of helplessness, come back the next bursting with excitement about how good the lymphatic self-massage, bandaging and/or decongestive exercises I taught them are making them feel. What’s more, the individuals who are the most consistent with their self-care regimens, don’t just do better than those who are less so, they thrive! Having the tools and knowledge to slow or stop the changes to their bodies, brought on by lymphedema, helps them move past their fear and sadness about having a chronic condition. Shifting their focus towards doing what they can to improve their health, brings on a sense of empowerment that allows them to truly live well.
So, if you’ve been resisting the need to do your part to successfully manage your lymphedema symptoms (which I completely understand because I’ve been there, too), I urge you to see this post as your wake up call. NOW is the time to step into reality, face your situation in the here and now, do all you can to maintain or improve your quality of life, and show yourself a whole lot of L-O-V-E. Make the decision today to learn all you can (ideally directly from a certified lymphedema therapist or a doctor) about everything you can do on your own to keep your symptoms in check, and commit to doing what you can every single day. Because, you know you’re totally worth the effort, right?