By Nordic Walking Watford at
WHAT IS LYMPHADEMA?
Lymphedema is swelling due to build-up of lymph fluid in the body. Your lymphatic system is a network of organs, vessels and tissues that work together to move a colorless, watery fluid (lymph) back into your circulatory system (your bloodstream). As a vital part of your immune system, your lymphatic system protects you from infection and destroys old or abnormal cells your body doesn’t need. Lymphatic system functions also include maintaining normal fluid levels in your body and absorbing fats and fat-soluble vitamins so they can make their way into your bloodstream.
Lymph nodes act like a drain in your sink. If the drain is clogged, the fluid cannot drain and swelling builds up. It usually happens in the arms or legs, but can occur in other parts of the body. Sometimes this swelling develops quickly, or it may develop slowly over several months.
WHAT CAUSES LYMPHADEMA?
PRIMARY LYMPHADEMA is a genetic disorder in which lymphatic vessels fail to develop properly before birth.
SECONDARY LYMPHEDEMA is an acquired disorder that is caused by damage to the lymphatic system.
Cancer treatment is the largest single cause of this condition.
Sometimes a cancerous tumor can get big enough to block the lymph system.
Surgery to remove cancer may also remove lymph nodes or some of the vessels that carry the lymph fluid – this can cause the fluid to build up in surrounding tissues.
Radiation treatment can also damage the lymph vessels, resulting in too much lymph fluid in the tissues.
HOW CAN NORDIC WALKING HELP?
Nordic walking has special benefits for those with lymphedema and is a very enjoyable activity to share with a group.
Compared with regular walking, Nordic Walking puts less strain on the body and the rate of perceived exertion is the same as walking without the poles.
The use of the poles and the specific squeeze-release technique of the forearm muscles is very beneficial for the circulatory system in general, but in particular lymphedema patients.
For those with lymphedema of either the arms or legs, Nordic Walking provides these special benefits:
“Nordic Walking has been reported to achieve balanced postural changes in breast cancer-related treatment postural disorders, increases in upper extremity strength,
improvements in cardio-metabolic and respiratory measures and has been used in the prevention and treatment of upper limb lymphedema”
The Journal of Physical Therapy Science