Each exercise should be repeated 10x with appropriate pauses. Repeat exercises 3x per day and never over exert. Exhale while contracting, inhale while relaxing. Breathing exercises can be interspersed in the breaks.

Breathing Exercises #1

  • Lying on your stomach, lay your arms in front of you in a flexed position and your head turned to the right. Take a deep breathe in, making your stomach rise and lift both arms simultaneously and hold for 7 seconds. Then lower your arms as you breathe out.

Breathing Exercise #2

  • Lie on your side. Extend your left leg and lay the right flexed leg over it. The right knee should be touching the table/ground.
  • Extend the right arm at the shoulder, above the head and back behind the ear
  • Rotate the upper body as if moving onto your back without losing contact with your right knee on the ground.
  • Relax and move onto your back and take a deep breath in, making your stomach rise as you inhale and stomach fall as your exhale.

Breathing Exercise #3

  • In a seated position, with both feet planted on the ground and your hands on top of your knees, take a deep breath in slowly making your stomach rise; and then exhale as your stomach falls
  • Your shoulders should be relaxed as your breathe in and out and not in a shrugged position.

Arm Edema Exercises

  1. in a seated position, place the hands flat on the table. Raise the hand against an imagined resistance and lower in again. Press the hand into the table. Be careful not to raise the wrist fully in extension
  2. in a seated position, lay the forearms on the table and circle the hands against an imagined resistance.
  3. in a seated position, with the forearms on the table and the fingers outstretched and extended, slowly close the hand to a fist and then open again, stretching and extending the fingers.
  4. in a seated position, with the arms hanging at the sides, raise them to 90 deg. with the fingers outstretched and extended. Close the hand to a fist against an imagined resistance. Turn the arms with palms up and bend at elbow slightly against an imagined resistance, then straighten them while stretching and extending the fingers.
  5. in a seated position, raise the arms from the sides with the elbows slightly flexed. Press the hands together in front of the body and hold for 7 seconds. With the fingers interlocked, try to pull the hands apart and hold for 7 seconds
  6. in a seated position, raise the arms with palms facing down to 90 deg. with the fingers outstretched and extended. Turn the hands with palms facing up against an imagined resistance.
  7. in a seated position, raise and lower the shoulders, then make circles forwards and backwards.

Leg Edema Exercises

  1. in a standing position, change position from heel to toes
  2. in a standing position, with feet angled out, lift one knee until the hip is in 90 deg. flexion while pointing toes down to floor
  3. in a seated position with legs outstretched, bend the knees then roll from heel to toes.
  4. while lying on your back, “bicycle” with the legs in the air while flexing and extending at the ankle. Extend against an imagined resistance.
  5. while lying on your back with your knees bent, one after the other, extend and hold the right and left legs in the air. Against an imagined resistance, make circles to the right and to the left with the feet then circle inwards, then outwards.
  6. while lying on your back with knees bent, raise the head, right shoulder and arm and try to stretch past the left knee. Repeat on the opposite side with the left shoulder and arm.
    Variation – raise the upper body and press both knees together and hold for 7 seconds. Repeat while pushing the legs apart.


  • Change limb positions often rather than let it rest in one position for too long
  • Try to sleep in a way where your body weight is not pressing on the limb, so it doesn’t slow the circulation
  • Exercise is good but for shorter rather than longer periods so as not to over tire the limb
  • Carry bags and heavy loads on unaffected side
  • Use the unaffected side for blood pressure measurements and injections. Avoid all injury to the limb
  • Shaving should be done carefully
  • Have any infections and unusual redness seen by a medical doctor immediately.
  • Have manual lymphatic drainage done immediately on recent bruising
  • Keep affected limbs in shade as much as possible and avoid sunburns
  • Clothing should be loose and comfortable
  • Wear a wristwatch/tight jewelry only on the unaffected side as it may trap bacteria or pinch the skin on the affected side
  • Keep the affected limb as clean as possible by using cleansing lotions
  • When taking a bath or shower use tepid warm rather than hot-warm as heat will make edema worse
  • Wash bandages or compression garments frequently
  • Report any chaffing, redness, indentation, looseness or tightness of sleeve to therapist
  • Keep weight down as much as possible and try to lose weight if you are overweight. A low salt diet is recommended.