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How to Do Arm Lymphedema Exercises


Updated August 21, 2009

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Shoulder Flexion - Standing Exercise
Shoulder Flexion

Shoulder Flexion

Illustration © Pam Stephan

Shoulder flexion uses your deltoid (shoulder) muscles and the front of your shoulder. Holding a light free weight while doing the shoulder flexion helps put some light pressure on your axillary lymph node area, and may help it drain.

You can do the shoulder flexion exercise with both arms. You will feel muscles in your shoulder and arm working as you do the shoulder flexion. Gentle muscle movement should help excess lymph fluid move back into circulation and help you avoid arm lymphedema.

Shoulder Flexion - Standing Exercise

Remember: Always wear your compression sleeve on your affected arm during exercise.

  1. Stand with good posture, arms at your sides. Hold a one-pound free weight in each hand, palms toward your body.
  2. Slowly raise both arms, using a gentle controlled motion. When your arms are almost directly overhead, pause and hold this position for six counts.
  3. Now slowly lower your arms - don't swing, but use control - until your hands are back beside your body. Rest.
  4. Repeat the shoulder flexion 10 times.

When your arms feel tired or if they start to swell, stop and rest. You will gradually build up enough strength and stamina to do this exercise without stopping. Try using heavier weights as you feel comfortable.

Next Exercise: Shoulder Abduction - Standing Exercise

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