5 Ways to Reduce Lymphedema Risk After Breast Cancer Treatment
3. STAY COOL
High heat can cause more blood and fluid to flow to a certain part of the body, so shoot for warm water, not hot, when you shower or wash dishes. If you want to use a hot tub, limit exposure and keep affected limbs out of the water if possible.
You should also avoid heating pads and heat-producing treatments, including deep tissue massage, as these can encourage extra fluid and swelling.
4. INCORPORATE EXERCISE—GENTLE EXERCISE, THAT IS.
After treatment, talk to your care team about when you can incorporate gentle exercises and stretching to restore range of motion and get the lymph and blood flowing.
Exercise promotes circulation, and good circulation eases swelling. Avoid exercises that put heavy pressure on your affected arms, such as push-ups, heavy weightlifting, bowling, and yoga positions like downward dog.
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5. BUT DON’T OVERDO IT!
Exercise is wonderful, but be sure to ease into it with advice from your care team, and be especially careful about heavy objects. Avoid carrying heavy purses or groceries on the affected arm, especially when your arm will be hanging downward. As you get stronger, you can ease back into these activities. Also be careful about intense upper-body movements like scrubbing and raking. Take breaks during these activities when you get tired and try incorporating gentle stretches.
Do be sure to slowly incorporate more stretching and exercise into your routine, as inactivity can cause other complications, like frozen shoulder.
Dry skin is at risk of cracking, which puts you at risk for infection. So this is your excuse to take good care of your skin! Avoid harsh alcohol gels or insect repellant—anything that could dry or irritate skin. Use a gentle moisturizer, especially when temperatures are extreme.
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