Strength training with lip lymphedema

Five basic strength / endurance exercises

My decongestive therapy in the Reinhardshöhe Rehabilitation Clinic In 2018 the motto was "Support and challenge" - don't put your feet up and holiday feeling ...

Early in the morning after the manual lymphatic drainage and bandaging of my legs plus compression abdominal part up to under the chest, it was immediately said: Freshly wrapped up for sport. Either an hour of Nordic walking (straight up the mountain behind the clinic… groan) or in the weight room on the treadmill for 30 minutes at 120 watts or else - and I thought 'Oh how fine' - to the devices. Breakfast? Little and short.

It is well known that bandages work most effectively in motion. It makes sense to train strength and endurance as early as possible in the day with the aim of losing water, strengthening muscles (including the heart!) And connective tissue, and relieving pain. More muscle burns more calories. And so strength training, especially in connection with a balanced diet, helps to reduce body weight.

The exercises in strength training with lip-lymphedema help to maintain an upright posture and strengthen our joints, tendons and bones through the resistance of the weights. They help to avoid damage to our musculoskeletal system. They get the circulation going so that we can stay healthy, fit and independent for as long as possible.

It's THE sport that I have been doing the longest and most consistently. It all started in 1975 in the equipment room at Uni Sport, followed by years of sports and coaching in Freiburg and Göppingen.

You can do that too!

Perhaps these five basic exercises will also make you feel like it. They are suitable for beginners in sport and were also prescribed to patients after surgery and chemo in the clinic. We were guided and supervised by sports scientists and physiotherapists. But the exercises are standard in every gym where qualified training personnel work.

During the instruction on the devices, my therapist tested how flexible I was and how much weight I could handle given my limitations. My major abdominal operation with a vertical scar over 30 cm long was a year ago. So I was instructed to do three sets of 17 repetitions on each machine with exactly one minute of rest between the sets. These 17 reps were supposed to give me more strength and endurance, and the weight was chosen so that I really struggled on the final rep.

From my personal point of view, I'll give you the tip: 17 repetitions for strength-endurance are fine. But if you really want to FEEL the affected muscles (and that is the decisive factor for the success of the exercise), then reduce the weight in the next training session by at least half. Perform the movement about 20 times very slowly and evenly and concentrate fully on the muscle group to be trained.

Clean and slow

I myself now start training with the lowest possible (child) weight to warm up. Then I increase the weight up to the working weight and pump with low weight again in the final sentence. Until I feel that the muscle is burning and nothing works.

A clean execution is the be-all and end-all - take a look at the exercises from my rehab here and get instructed by trainers in a studio or in the weight room of your physiotherapy practice. They are not performed with free dumbbells, but on machines that can be individually adjusted to your body size in order to ensure a clean and ergonomic sequence of movements and to protect your joints.

The following basic exercises mobilize the entire (!) Body as much as possible.

Chest press

I will explain the basic principle of strength training with lip-lymphedema in more detail here using the first exercise as an example.

The aim of the exercise is primarily to strengthen the chest muscles. Supporting muscle groups of the trunk and arm muscles such as upper and lateral abdominal muscles, shoulders and triceps, so-called auxiliary muscles, are also included.

In everyday life, this exercise affects your upright posture, grip strength, coordination and, above all, your breathing by creating space for your lungs. The cycle is permanently strengthened.

It is important to have a good basic posture with full body tension, that is: To prepare, roll shoulders up and back, chin down, head and neck straight, sternum up, tummy tense, pelvic floor tense. The trainer adjusts the seat for you, and he also determines your grip width and grip height.

The feet are firmly placed on the floor, the knees bent at 90 °. Sitting upright and ajar, hold the handles tightly! at chest level, keep your elbows below shoulder height and slowly and in a controlled manner push the weight forward as you exhale. Keep your wrists straight and not bent upwards, moving back as you inhale.

Caution: Do not fully press / lock your arms, but always keep a slight bend in the elbow joints and stay tensioned.

By making small changes to the basic posture such as tilting the pelvis, head posture and grip variations, the chest muscles can be trained in a more targeted and isolated manner without putting too much strain on the smaller and weaker muscle parts around them, but you will work that out again with your trainer after a period of getting used to it also applies to all other basic exercises.

The basic exercises

  • Seated row to strengthen the lateral and upper back muscles
  • Back connector machine / back extensions for the development of the lower and inner muscles next to the spine
  • Abdominal press / crunches on machine - of course for the entire abdominal muscles and
  • Leg press sitting or 45 ° upwards for legs AND core muscles. With this exercise you will most likely feel the decongesting effect under the bandage.

In order to stimulate muscle development and function and to achieve the training goal, full-body training twice a week is the minimum, three times is better. Optimally supplemented by 2 - 3 x endurance training such as aqua jogging, Nordic walking and rehabilitation / gymnastics.

What speaks against strength training with lip lymphedema in the gym?

The exercises work on muscles AND the lymphatic system. Correct execution is guaranteed under professional supervision. In addition, nobody will look at you disparagingly in the gym - on the contrary! Understanding, guidance on self-management, nutritional advice, motivation and recognition await you! You meet like-minded people and can exchange ideas. In most studios (also and especially in the country!) There are rehab sports courses that are fully paid for by health insurance, other exercise options such as cardio training, functional training and all kinds of gymnastics courses suitable for you such as yoga, pilates, fascia training, Bellicon and Fitball. Due to the variety of devices and changing training plans, it is guaranteed not to be monotonous. The work of Fitness studios continues where the work of the physiotherapy practice on prescription ends. There you can do a lot for your body on your own responsibility and with a lot of fun.

And somehow such a contract also 'forces' us to regular and effective training. The inherently sluggish edema, often described by you as nasty and annoying, really has to be kicked in the butt!

Hear around, do a trial training session and experience the great feeling of doing something for your body. The best time is

Start your strength training with lip-lymphedema NOW!

It's worth it - less pain, reduced edema circumference, a better body feeling and visible changes are the benefits.

And of course always #sportincompression!

Why do we wear compression the best functional clothing there is every day? Get dressed up and declare war on the edema monster.

We wish you lots of fun and success with strength training with lip-lymphedema
the Ursula


If you liked the article, Ursula would be very happy if you buy her a virtual cup of coffee!


Studio: @cleverfit_rothenburgodT with the coaching team @_binacolada @its_murv and Hannes on the pusher 😉

Bandages: Schug Medical

Compression: medi GmbH

ursula thomé

Author: Ursula Thomé

Hello, I am Ursula Thomé, born in 1956 and had several abdominal operations in 2016, after which secondary lymph edema developed. I live with my husband and three children near Rothenburg ob der Tauber, sing and play bass in several bands, give tutoring in Latin and do voluntary work in geriatric care. Music and sport are my passion. I've been wearing compression tights for a year, and Caroline's lipedema blog and the valuable information helped me a lot in overcoming many obstacles and problems in connection with my edema. I love my colored compromises - preferably animal print or flowers with a rocking outfit (also open on stage) - they don't restrict me, but they help, decorate, underline my clothes and my mood and enable me to continue an active and fulfilled life . 

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