As a Naturopath and a Certified Lymphatic Drainage Therapist – I work with patients every day who are often unable to easily dry skin brush or rebound to drain their lymphatic systems. These easy DIY at home lymphedema and swelling reduction leg exercises are easy to perform.
1. Elevated legs – against a wall or headboard of bed
2. Elevated Ankle Pumps – against a wall or headboard of bed – pumping from ankle – up and downward motion
3. Elevated Ankle Twists – against a wall or headboard of bed – moving ankle in and out in a brisk, quick fashion
4. Seated Ankle Pumps – seated with butt on surface like the floor or bed, legs stretched out – quickly, briskly pumping the ankles
5. Elevated Ankle Pumps – using a pillow or two – ankle pumps
6. Leg Pumps – swiftly moving legs left to right (outward – inward) from hips while laying completely on your back. Keeping feet pointed upwards to the ceiling.
7. Toe Pumps – seated position pump just your toes – fast pumping moving/scrunching your toes up and down
Ankle Pumps, Leg Pumps and Toe Pumps are key to moving the lymph and lymphatic system to drain up and into the abdominal region.
Moving your lymphatic fluid to reduce swelling and lymphedema in toes, feet, ankle, knees and legs is key to helping resolve your swelling situation. Exercising and moving your legs, ankles and toes will help you body drain the excess fluid.
Speed isn’t always key for all these exercises. Depending on the degree of your lymphedema and swelling you might want to do these exercises for a longer period of time.
Couple up these exercises with these lymph draining – swelling reducing activities:
1. Ginger Tea
2. Water/Hydration – coconut water is my favorite
3. High protein meals
4. Low sodium meals
5. Minimize sugar intake
6. Eliminate gluten
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I’m going to show you how to do lymphatic drainage exercises. This is great for those who might be immobilized from surgery or extreme lymphedema and for anybody who is dealing with any kind of swelling or fluid retention of the lower extremities, your feet ankles and legs.
One of my viewers asked specifically if there were any exercises that she could do while being bed bound post surgery. These exercises are great for any one who is post surgical or any individual who might be dealing with lymphedema or any type of swelling of the toes, feet, ankles, and the legs.
Here are some exercises you can do. Many of them can be altered depending on your physical capacity and your ability to move around. I’ll detail some of those options here.
The first exercise is for those who are mobile enough to get their legs against the wall.
This exercise is great for any type of swelling in your legs. I used this particularly when I was pregnant and recommend this for a lot of my lymphatic therapy patients after treatment.
Physically lay on bed with head at the foot of the bed, feet towards the head of the bed and wall behind it. Lying on your back, prop your feet on the headboard or wall. All you do is keep your legs in this position for about a minute to five minutes depending on what you are capable of doing.
From this position, what I want to show you is an alternate form, ankle pumping. You can be up against a headboard or wall and your going to pump your ankles up and down and in and out.
Getting your legs elevated is absolutely essential for moving the lymphatic flow. But, that’s not always possible for people who are in a surgical bed, are in rehab or just do not have the ability to physically elevate the legs. So, I want to show you on my bed, lying down what you can do to move your lymph and to get the lymph moving out of your legs, toes and ankles.
Altered ankle pump. Lay back. An ankle pump is literally pumping your toes, up and down. For more extreme cases, you can use a pillow or two to get elevation. Next, move the feet in and out.
A little bit different from ankle pumping, it’s a fast movement and this literally, unless you have nerve damage, nerve damage or immobility, most everyone can do this next exercise. It’s literally where you move your feet really fast. It’s the type of lymphatic action that we get when we are bouncing doing a rebounder or trampoline. This is a great way to do that in bed. This is for people that need the extra support that don’t have the ability physically to get up.
Get in a nice comfortable position, usually your head is all the way down and you go like this…move your legs in and out, in and out. Your moving them from the hip. I like to keep my feet straight up, toes facing the ceiling. You’re literally pumping your legs, moving them in and out. For those who don’t have much muscle strength, you may go a little slower. You don’t have to go too fast. You can get the same pumping action moving slower. This exercise is moving the lymph up the legs. What we want to do is move the lymph up into the abdominal region so that it drains out in the appropriate way.
As many of you know, recommend dry skin brushing, which is another video.
There are some other exercises that you can do to get the fluid moving. This next lymph pumping action involves toe movement. You can be in a seated position where your legs are parallel to the bed, torso at a 90 degree angle. You want to do pumping of just your toes. Pumping fast is a good way to get the movement going but the speed doesn’t really matter. What we want to do is get activity, get the motion moving. If you have the ability to pump quickly, you can. It won’t give you the best maximum lymph flow if you are going slower, so you might want to do the exercise a little longer. I like to do anywhere from a minute to five minutes of each of these exercises depending on the degree of your lymphedema and swelling.
What you always want to make sure that you are doing is drink a lot fluids, water ginger tea and coconut water which is the best isotonic fluid enhancer. The more fluid you have in your body the more fluid the lymphatic flow is. That may sound ironic and maybe not what what you want to do but in fact, you want to be well hydrated. That’s the best way to get the fluid flushing. A dehydrated system, a dehydrated body causes lymphatic fluid to become more congested and the lymph fluid itself is comprised of a ton of tiny bonded proteins. When they are dehydrated, they get stickier and they are harder to move. So, make sure you are well hydrated when you do these pumping exercises. My recommendation is do these exercises 2-3 times per day. In the morning, at lunchtime and before bed. Accompanied with dry skin brushing and a good diet full of high protein, low salt, low sugar, no dairy and avoiding gluten.