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All TopicsForum: Lymphedema → Topic: Opinions needed on weight lifting and LYmpadema ...

Topic: Opinions needed on weight lifting and LYmpadema ...

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

Posted on: Mar 21, 2009 05:13PM

naturelover39 wrote:

Hi All,

       Since I've gotten sick and tired of being not myself I took a risk today and lifted 2lb wieghts.

I still have a hematoma/lymph in breast only. It is getting smaller but been dealing with it since Aug26th. Saw a great therapist at Mayo who did lots of massage and nothing else , but seemed to help alot. I have been continuing  the basic exercises most days.

So, what does anyone think about doing some light careful weight lifting. Gotten  too weak, so I thought I would do it.

Also needed to go to Dentist , do we need antibiotics first? Just had an absess so I took it.

Anybody have ideas of getting stronger and healthier would be greatly appreciated. Been going through too many medical prob at the same time.

thanks and Many Prayers of Healing For Everybody


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Mar 21, 2009 06:24PM Binney4 wrote:

Hi, Naturelover,

Key word: CAREFUL! Start slow, just a few reps and see how it goes.  Work up slower than you would have before. (We can't do the "no pain-no gain" thing -- pain is bad because it draws lymph fluid to the site.Tongue out) You're watching for swelling, of course, but even better to STOP at once if you feel tiredness, achiness, fullness, tingling, numbness, or just "something odd." Stop and elevate your arm until the feeling goes away. You can try again the next day, but stop again if you experience any of those things. After exercise, check in the evening for any new swelling or other symptoms. 

If you haven't been fitted for a compression sleeve and glove, that's a good first step. Wear it when exercising, traveling, or doing any strenuous or unusual activity. Stay VERY well hydrated, and stop at intervals to do a few deep abdominal breaths.

Those, anyway, are the recommendations. The reality is that it's really hard to stop in the middle of a set. "Only four more to go -- what can that hurt?!" So try to be alert not only to your arm and breast, but to the excuses it's too easy to make!Laughing

If you mean you have lymphedema and a hematoma in your breast, you might want to talk to your therapist about breast compression options and the simple lymphedema exercises you can do to help. She did teach you to do the massage, yes? That can also help before and/or after exercise sessions.

Antibiotics before dental work aren't usually advised, though some people do that. Best, though, to be alert to the possibility of infection all the time (lymph fluid breeds bacteria really fast), and get help quickly at the first sign of it. 

Here are a couple of pages on exercise and lymphedema:

http://www.lymphnet.org   (See the Position Papers on Risk Reduction and Exercise)


Healing prayers for you too, NL!

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Mar 21, 2009 07:36PM otter wrote:


(I read your post but I was waiting for Binney to answer first.)  My last 2 visits with my LE therapist consisted of her walking me through some arm exercises that would slowly increase my upper-body strength.  At one appointment she had me using 1-pound dumbell-style weights with 6 or 7 different arm movements.  At the other appointment, she had me working with some of the arm and upper-body machines they have in the rehab center.

Everything I did was really slow and really light.  I belonged to a gym before all this BC stuff, and I can (or, could) move a lot more weight than my therapist was allowing me to lift.  Still, after not doing any real exercises for 8 months or so, even a one-pound weight seemed like a weight.

I was told to wear my compression sleeve and gauntlet, or to wrap my arm as I'd been taught, whenever I was doing arm exercises or any upper-body, repetitive-motion activity.  My therapist had reviewed short-stretch bandaging with me at those last two sessions, so my arm was wrapped during the exercises.

There is some recent data that says exercise is actually good for us, as long as we're very careful and we don't overdo it.  I also think it's a good idea to work with an LE therapist before starting or resuming an exercise program, just to be safe.


Dx 2008, IDC, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2-
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Mar 21, 2009 09:03PM KEW wrote:

I agree with both Binney and Otter.  I used to row and before surgery could military press 100 pounds and was using 20 dumbbells.  I had LE right after surgery and PT worked wonders, and now just have a small patch around the inside of my elbow.  My PS didn't release me for anything over head for 12 weeks, and has me really limited on weight bearing 1-2 pounds, or bands with the PT.  I wear my sleeve whenever I work out, even if it isn't an upper body workout.  I'm trying to get things moving a little bit before my exhcnage/hyster/ooph in May.  I've never gone this long without yoga, etc.  I feel like I have no muscle mass left.  I am doing 1 1/2 cardio workouts on Sat and Sun, 1/2 hour during the week, lower body weights 3 times a week, and a little upper body with resistance twice a week.

Binney is right, go slowly, besides you gain more strength with slow movements, those folks you see in the gym screaming, huffing, and puffing, and moving their weights really fast, are not gaining the best benefit for all that work.

I would not do anything without seeing a PT first I think  it is very important and can prevent doing the wrong things, and help maximize doing the right ones.



Age DX: 48. Dx Oct 2008, IDC, 2.6cm, Stage IIa, Grade 2, 0/10 nodes,100%ER+/Pr+, HER2-, Oncotype Score 15. BLM with reconstruction Nov 2008.
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Mar 22, 2009 12:24AM naturelover39 wrote:

Thanks everyone.  I will go to 1lb, breast swelled some , and email therapist.  No, he didn't show me how to do the massage.  I did pay attention though.  actually when he worked on my arm sometimes it swelled? which I was concerned about. I've had multiple medical issues simultaneously- in addition to breast- long unpleasent story. I am trying to take one step at a time to not get overwhelmed.  I felt good exercising but breast and upper arm reacted some.  I should of asked before I did it.   Well thanks again - must get some sleep - I hope one day I will get life back - be able to walk and etc,

Healing and some Joy /Laughter for everyone,


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Mar 22, 2009 08:33AM KEW wrote:

I am so sorry you are going through this.  I'm having a hard time adjusting to the new normal, because I still don't understand what that is, but I surely hope it is better than this.  You sound like a strong and determined woman and you will find yourself in a better place physically and emotionally, it is just taking what seems like an unfairly long time, for sure.

I noticed you talked about massaging your arm.  My PT, who is LE licensed, gave me directions on how to do a massage that began at my wrist, down my arm, under my arms, towards the center of my stomach, under my clavicle and up from the groin area towards the stomach--I may have some of it out of order.  This really helped me a lot because it helps to get the whole system moving.  I couldn't get my arm down because I had LE alongside my breast and ribcage, trunk LE maybe? I was backed up.  Once I started doing this regularly, thing began to clear up.  I still have that swelling inside where my elbow bends, but hope it will get better over time.

Age DX: 48. Dx Oct 2008, IDC, 2.6cm, Stage IIa, Grade 2, 0/10 nodes,100%ER+/Pr+, HER2-, Oncotype Score 15. BLM with reconstruction Nov 2008.
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Mar 26, 2009 02:20AM LizinKS wrote:

I just joined a women's fitness center. On a very recent visit,I asked her if there is any exercise activity I should avoid. I only had two sentinal nodes removed-both benign. She said that I should avoid lifting weights over my head since that can cause some lymphodema even in cases like mine. I would ask your oncologist before doing any weightlifting.

Dx 5/16/2008, IDC, <1cm, Stage IB, Grade 2, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-

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