One of the best self care practices that you can do for your chronic swelling is exercise. The lymphatic system that processes all the fluid in the body works through movement. When the muscles contract, it is pulling on the valves of the lymphatic capillaries, which then pumps the fluid to digest within the system to the heart and eventually leaving the body when going to the bathroom. Stretching and slow pace cardio keeps your skin, joints and muscles healthy which contribute to a healthy lymphatic system as well. If you do have lymphedema, it is advised to wear a professional compression garment during all exercises, except for swimming. This is due to needing a compression so that the lymphatic system is able to pump more of the fluid than normal.
Having a daily routine is extremely important for a maintenance practice rather than an emergency based for your swelling. Keeping up with an exercise on a daily basis teaches the lymphatic system to maintain pumping the fluid, to boost the immune system and to constantly rid the body of unwanted toxins. A catch up routine of exercise is only doing it when the swelling has blown up and it is based more out of stress, anxiety and fear. It is harder to catch up than it is to keep up.
The type of exercise is also an important decision when selecting your exercise routine. Slow cardio (where your heart beat rises slower in the amount of time set for the routine) or resistance base (weights or a band) is the best. Whatever form of exercise you choose to be great for your body, focus on pumping actions of your muscle and joints at a slow steady pace.
When we raise our heart beats at a fast pace too quickly, we pump our blood faster which means more fluid diffusing from the blood vessels into the spatial tissues for the lymphatic system to digest. If our system is already compromised with too much fluid and then we add more from exercise, swelling occurs and we don’t receive the benefits from exercising.
Types of Exercises:
- Swimming: Being in a pool acts a compression garment, squeezing the lymphatic system, while walking in the pool.
- 20 min steady medium fast walking: Walking actively pumps the lymphatic system. The more consistent you are the better results you will find.
- Bicycle / stationary bike: Try not to have too much resistance while biking.
- Qi Gong / Tai Chi: Jeffrey Chand on you tube provides a great beginner introduction.
- Yoga: Hatha yoga is the best type for chronic swelling. 5 keys Yoga in Chicago, IL provides online classes and is highly recommended.
- Resistance Band: Be mindful to not have too much weight or resistance.