I think a lot of us feel helpless against the chronic swelling and other symptoms caused by our lymphedema. Since developing it in 2009, from breast cancer treatments, I’ve worked to understand how my lymphatic system functions and what happens when it’s damaged. Through a lot of trial and error, I've figured out ways I can help my body and luckily, there's a lot we can do!
Before cancer treatments my lymphatic system was doing its job pretty well. Unfortunately, after having nodes removed and a number of surgeries, my lymphatic system was forever damaged. But, that doesn’t mean it stopped working all together. For me, by stimulating my lymphatic system every day, I’m able to manage the symptoms of my lymphedema. I reduce the heavy achy feeling in my body, clear my brain fog, and manage my swelling.
Similar to the principles of manual lymphatic drainage massage (MLD), my goal is to work with my superficial lymphatic system to help move excess fluid trapped in my tissues. To to this, I do self care activities that create muscle contractions or mimic them. It’s muscle contractions that help propel lymph fluid through my lymphatic system (clearing pathways) and get the capillaries within my tissues to “suck in” more fluid.
Ways I stimulate my lymphatic system:
Here is a list of the self care activities I do to help my lymphatic system and lymphedema. I hope this helps you to start thinking about your self-care.
I try to swim as much as possible. Water has natural compression which really helps get the lymphatic system moving. I do a combo of crawl stroke, breast stroke, back stroke and side stroke. I swim slow and relaxed. Then I walk the length of the pool both forward and backward. I stretch in the water, do about 5 deep dives as far down as I can go and finish with 5 deep breathes while relaxing submerged in the water.
Other things I do to help:
- Light Strength Workout
- Lymph Stimulating Shower
- Vibrating Matt
- Deep Belly Breaths
- Leisure walks
- Wear Active Massage compression garments CLICK HERE
In terms of food, this is always a work in progress. Overall, I try to stick to an anti-inflammatory diet. I do my best to stay away from processed foods and eat organic fruits, vegetables as well as grass fed meats. I do like juicing as well as smoothies. For all my personal care, I try to only use raw, organic products and stay away from chemical and synthetic ingredients.
Again, I'm not a doctor or health care professional. Like you, I deal with chronic swelling and the havoc it causes in my body. Please talk with your healthcare provider before making any changes to your compression or self care regiment.
Join me on my FACEBOOK PAGE for more information and videos where I show you all my self care.
I hope this helps!