Leg Exercises and Self-Massage for Lymphedema Relief

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Tuesday, 12 March 2019

While there is currently no cure for leg swelling caused by lymphedema, there are treatment options to help you find relief. These include compression therapy, lymphatic massage, intermittent compression sleeves and leg exercises that you can do from the comfort of your own home.

With guidance from your lymphedema therapist here at Vein Specialists of the South, you can complement your in-office therapeutic treatments with leg exercises and self-massage at home. This will not only improve your symptoms and results, but it’s also very self-empowering to take an active role in your own care.

Leg Exercises And Self-Massage For Lymphedema Relief

Leg exercises and lymphatic drainage massage promote healthy more efficient lymphatic fluid flow to reduce swelling. In addition to in-office treatments, you will learn how to perform self-care at home, including self-massage techniques and leg exercises for lymphedema relief.

Try This Do It Yourself At-Home Lymphatic Drainage Massage

Have you ever wished you could take your lymphedema therapist home with you? While it would be nice to have one of our caring providers available for every lymphatic drainage massage, we cannot realistically provide such a service (sorry). We can, however, teach you or a family member, friend or caregiver, how to perform your lymphatic massages at home. You can do this while watching your favorite television show or in bed right before you tuck yourself in for the night.

Follow these three steps for daily self-massage for lymphatic drainage:

  1. Belly: Place your hands on your pelvis and stroke upwards to your belly. It is here that physiotherapists speak of a “drain” that takes the lymphatic fluid and circulates it to areas of your body where it can be excreted.
  2. Thighs: Now, massage up the thighs to the pelvis.
  3. Feet and Calves: In the next stage, massage up from your feet to your thighs. In this final stage, it may be easier to enlist help from a family member, trusted friend, or another caregiver.


Please also ask your VSS lymphedema therapist about compression therapy sleeves or boots you can use at home to encourage healthy lymphatic flow. Compression therapy devices are essentially an automated, mechanical massage. They contain air chambers and electric pumps that compress and release. Some patients compare them to getting a great big hug. Wear them while you enjoy your favorite smartphone games, eat your dinner, or play around on social media.

Speaking of social media, like us on Facebook for more leg health tips.

Our Top 9 Leg Exercises For Lymphedema Relief

Put your binge-watching time to good use with these leg exercises for lymphedema relief. Remember that it’s important to check with your lymphedema therapist and/or physician before making any changes to your fitness routine.

Perform the following foot and leg exercises 2-3 times per day to aid in lymphedema relief. Do 15 of each set per leg. For further guidance, contact your lymphedema therapist at Vein Specialists of the South.

  1. Toe Curls: Start in a supine position (flat on your back). Elevate your legs above your heart by placing a wedge or pillows beneath your knees. Then, curl your toes as tight as you can, then release.
  2. Ankle Pumps: While in the same position, simply and rhythmically pump your ankles back and forth and from side to side.
  3. Ankle Circles: Now, rotate your ankles in wide circles.
  4. Hip and Knee Flexion: Draw each knee to your chest, one at a time, and then straighten.
  5. Clamshells: With this and all remaining leg exercises, remove the pillows or wedge and lie flat. Put your feet together, and open and close your legs while engaging the core of your body. Your legs can be straight or bent.
  6. Gluteal Squeezes: Squeeze your buttocks together and then release.
  7. Bridges: Lie with your feet flat and knees bent. Raise your body off the floor while engaging your core. Your back should be straight, and your knees should be in line with your shoulders. Start by holding the position for 10 seconds and work up to 30.
  8. Trunk Rotations: While lying on your back, rotate your trunk to one side, hold it and then rotate it to the other side.


Every night, following your leg exercises, lie down flat on your back and elevate your legs. Make sure your feet are higher than your heart. You can use pillows or a wedge while lying on the couch, floor, or bed. You can also elevate your legs straight up the wall. Remain in this position for at least 30-minutes every evening. This is another great time to catch up on your favorite TV show, catch up on email, or call your mother (you should probably call your mother).

Making It All Work In Your Schedule

We know that it can seem impossible to work these leg exercises into your schedule once per day, let alone two or three times per day. Find creative ways to make it work. Go through your exercise routine while watching TV or online videos. Turn some of these fitness sessions into a family affair. Get the whole family exercising every day. This establishes healthier long-term lifestyle habits, especially for young people.

What are some other ways you can work these exercises into your daily routine? Email us below or connect with us on Facebook and let us know how you’ve been able to empower yourself and take an active role in your own lymphedema care.

BetterLooking® Legs And Lymphedema Treatment In Central GA

If you have unexplained leg swelling, or if you were diagnosed with lymphedema, trust the expert care at Vein Specialists of the South. To get started, try one of these convenient options:

  1. Schedule an in-person evaluation in Downtown Macon or Warner Robins, GA.
  2. Submit an online evaluation request at VirtualVein.com
  3. Come to one of our free events to learn more and receive an evaluation by one of our expert providers.


Contact us today with any questions or to schedule an appointment. Our patients are like family, so our team is available to answer all of your questions related to leg swelling, self-care at home, in-office treatments, costs, insurance, and referrals.

Over 18,000 Procedures Performed

Dr. Kenneth Harper, founder of Vein Specialists of the South, has evaluated more than 22,000 patients and performed over 18,000 procedures since 2000. Dr. Harper is a leader in comprehensive vein care, having focused on diagnosis and treatments for varicose veins, spider veins, venous ulcers, and leg swelling since 1997.


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