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Topic: Swimming and LE

Forum: Lymphedema — Risks, tips for prevention, and info about products that can address the symptoms of lymphedema.

Posted on: Aug 23, 2006 11:26AM

AmyE wrote:

I need some advice regarding using swimming as part of your exercise routine. I remember reading off and on that it's o.k. to do the breast stroke. I did some breast stroke laps today and got some slight swelling in my upper arm and below the collar bone. I didn't think I was overdoing it, but maybe I need to do fewer laps.

Those of you who do swim, please tell me what you do.

Amy Log in to post a reply

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Aug 23, 2006 12:50PM jazziD wrote:

Hi Amy:

I found this website in one of these posts, I forgot which one, but here is the URL re: swimming, etc.

I am getting an auxillary dissection, Aug. 25th, so I am trying to learn as much as I can about lymphedema as well. There is alot of information on this site, I hope this helps... Dee
Dee Dx 7/7/2006, IDC, Right, 2cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 3/27 nodes, ER-/PR+, HER2-
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Aug 23, 2006 01:24PM Binney4 wrote:

Hi, Amy,

Water exercise of all sorts is good for the lymphdema because the water adds pressure and the movement stimulates the lymph vessels to keep things progressing. Except for the butterfly stroke, which is apparently akin to a contact sport.

That said, I just wanted to suggest that there are some women who find certain activities aggravate their LE, even if they seem to help everybody else. So if the breast stroke is giving you grief but you love it, then back off to fewer laps and swim slower for awhile, and see if you can work your way up. On the other hand, if you'd just as soon substitute a few laps of back stroke, and they don't bother your LE, then drop the breast stroke altogether and do what works.

Whenever I ask my therapist if I can do one activity or another, she says, "Well, what happens to your arm and chest when you do it?" Because the point is not really to follow a set of pre-determined rules, but to find ways to keep the swelling under control -- which may be different from most everyone else's. In other words, if you've learned to massage, wrap, and generally care for unexpected swelling, then you're free to experiment carefully and see what works for you, backing off when you detect problems and regaining control again.

Sometimes this is discouraging. I've all but given up crocheting, which I did constantly before, because unless I take it VERY easy it makes me swell. And crocheting half a row of whatever and then setting it aside makes me crazy. I do not find these roadblocks easy to adjust to. (In fact, sometimes I wonder if I'm the only one who gets so bent out of shape over this LE on a more or less regular basis. Makes me mad and sad and humiliated and frustrated and HOT!)

Okay, end of rant. Sorry for the digression! And I'm also sorry about your experience with the breast stroke, but I'm hoping you'll find your way back to it by taking it slow and easy for a while. YES!
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Aug 26, 2006 05:35AM AmyE wrote:

Thank you Dee and Binney for your replies. Dee, that was a perfect website suggestion, just what I needed!

Binney, I'm glad that you feel free to rant and let it all come out. You are such a wonderful source of support to so many of us. I feel for you because it is clear that your condition is worse than many of us experience. Reading about your experience has helped give me the stength to carry on fighting this whole LE thing. Where I live there are very few people who know about LE and I have come to rely on your words for guidance. A big thank you!!

I've got to go help my husband put up hurricane shutters. We've got a big storm headed our way. I'm getting pretty good at lifting things with only one arm and protecting the other. It takes practice and awareness, though.

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Aug 26, 2006 04:34PM lymphedemapeople wrote:

Hi Amy and Binney

Super reply Binney..kudos! I find a very gentle back stroke to be quite helpful...and even relaxing. Try this and see how that does for you.

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Aug 26, 2006 06:15PM kimmie11 wrote:

Great site thank you!! Mine is in my breast, they did a biopsy to see if anything was going on and thank goodness it came back fine. My breast is not as hot, swollen and the skin is not as thick. Just like after the lumpectomy I have pockets of fluid that continue to drain, about 4 weeks out now.
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Aug 31, 2006 12:03PM AmyE wrote:

Hi Pat,

I've been trying the gentle backstroke and I really like it. I never really did backstroke before I got BC so your idea was a push in a new direction for me. The nice thing about the backstroke is that it really stretches out my arm and chest. (I've had a mast with rads and really need this.) Thanks for the idea.

Binney, I know you are a strong woman, but just wanted you to know that I've been thinking about you and hope all is well with you. This road is full of ups and downs. You've helped me a lot so I really care about how you are doing.


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