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.
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One comment

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

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