Lymphedema and Exercise

As recently as 5 years ago, if you had lymph nodes surgically removed or damaged by radiation, the advice you would have been given would be not to lift more than 5 pounds. Right, and WHO’S going to bring in the groceries? Fortunately that is no longer the case. Current research suggests that participation in a resistance program will not increase your likelihood of developing lymphedema.

  • Before you begin any exercise program, check in with your medical team.
  •  You will want to have a baseline arm measurement.  Measure between the elbow and wrist, and  between the elbow and shoulder.
  • Begin with light weights and monitor your body’s reaction to the exercises.  Gradually increase the amount of resistance you use. What does this mean? Basically start with 1 or 2 pounds, monitor, listen to your body and slowly add more weight — possibly no more than 5 percent at a time — when the movements become too easy.
  • If you currently have lymphedema it is advisable to wear a compression sleeve.
  • If you have a port or picc line you will want to avoid resistance exercises in the muscles surrounding the port or picc line. But again, check with your medical team.

One comment

  1. Hmm, will need to get compression sleeve. thanks for info!

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