Pillar 3: Decongestive exercises for lymphedema patients

“Why on earth should I do gymnastics with my bandaged arm (or leg)?” This is a question we are often asked, and it is a justified one. The patients’ freedom of movement is greatly reduced due to bandaging, which makes exercising very cumbersome.

Effect of lymphedema gymnastics

The Dr. Vodder Method of Manual Lymph Drainage results in a marked reduction of edema. To maintain this result or improve it further, the therapist bandages the affected limb(s). Any movement with the bandaged limb will reduce edema volume for the following reasons:  

  • a) In addition to the "pressure" of the bandages moving the extremity creates a strong compression with the muscels. All vessels (veins and lymphvessels)who are in between bandage and muscles will be drained by this force.

    This leads to an quicker bloodstream and improves a better backflow of the lymphatic system.
  • b) Needing more oxygene the arterial bloodstream will be raised automatically by an higher muscleacitivy. Close to the arteries a lot of lymphvessels are situated. 

    The higher pulsation of the arteries has an stimulating effect on the lymphatic system. That's why we have a better drainage of the deep lymph vessel system. 

Which exercises are best suited for lymphedema patients?

The optimum decongestive exercise for the lower extremities is climbing stairs. We also recommend activities such as cycling, Nordic walking, hiking and walking.

As an in-patient at the Lymphedema Clinic Wittlinger, you have the opportunity to enjoy our beautiful Lake Walchsee and the impressive Kaiserwinkl environment while engaging in outdoor activities.

Activities such as cleaning, cooking and washing will involve considerable use of the arm muscles. If your daily routine involves engaging in these activities, it is important to know that straining or overusing muscles may lead to inflammation and/or worsening of your edema.

We made several videos showing some excercises from our physiotherapists during their daily group excercise with our lipedema and lymphedema patients. Join and feel the effect!