Role of Exercise in Lymphedema Treatment

A well-balanced exercise program with other treatment options used in the management for lymphedema is an important component to reduce swelling and a vital tool to continue with normal activities.  Exercise protocols need to be customized by the Lymphedema therapist regarding the type and strategy, and limitation of joints.  They are categorized under the following:  Decongestive Exercise—active non-resisted, repetitive to propel fluid back as the lymphatic system down not have an active pump.  Abdominal Breathing—movement of the diaphragm for sufficient return of the lymphatic fluid to the bloodstream.  Aerobic Exercise—uses large repetitive muscle activity but must be low risk.  Aquatic Exercises—develops range of motion and flexibility due to buoyancy of water and the hydrostatic pressure acts like a “full body compression garment”.  Inappropriate weights present a RISK for injury or overuse.