Exercises For Relief From Edema

Edema or swelling is common, especially in seniors. The cause of this condition could be a number of things, including immobility. Especially after a surgery that removed lymph nodes, the lymph fluid may be collected in the lower extremities instead of moving upwards, and the best way to cope with it is through exercises and being active. Here are 10 exercises that will help seniors with the edema in their legs. 

1. Diaphragmatic breathing

Since there is liquid build up in your legs that needs to be relieved and sent upwards, all exercises for edema in the legs involve being in a supine posture. Before you start any exercise, you need to lie on your back with your feet elevated above the heart and breathe through the diaphragm.

2. Wiggling the toes

Your toe muscles are in the calf area of your leg. Therefore, any movement there will cause the fluid build-up to break and move upwards. So, maintaining the supine position from before, gently wiggle your toes. 

3. Ankle pumps

Ankle pumps are the best exercise when dealing with edema in the legs, even more so than other exercise equipment for seniors. These give further movement to the calf and shin area of your leg, breaking up the fluid build-up. Repeat this as much as possible.

4. Ankle circles

The next exercise to follow ankle pumps is ankle circles. This one is fairly simple because you just need to maintain the same supine position with elevated feet and rotate the ankles gently. Make sure to do it as many times as is comfortable to you.

5. Hip and knee flexion

Hip and knee flexion gives movement to your knees and the rest of the leg muscles. Still in the elevated supine posture, gently bend the leg at the knees and bring the knees towards the chest before going back to the original posture. Do this for both legs.

6. Clamshell

At this point, you can take up a complete supine posture and remove whatever elevated your legs. Now, keep your legs in a bent position and cross the ankles. Then, gently push the knees to their respective side, opening your pelvic region like a clamshell.

7. Abduction and adduction

After the clamshell exercise, straighten your legs and move your legs as if you are making a snow angel. The movement you make as you move outwards is called abduction, while the inward movement is called adduction. 

8. Squeeze the butt

Once again, bending your legs into a mountain position and keeping your hands rested beside you, squeeze the butt muscles. This exercise helps the fluid build-up to further move upwards.  

9. Butt bridges

Maintaining your position from the butt squeezes, make sure to lie down relaxed, your hands gripping the sides of the table or resting against the floor. This will help your traction for butt bridges. Once the position is set, gently lift your midsection while keeping the upper body, hands, and feet on the ground. Hold the position for a few seconds before coming down.

10. Trunk rotations

Finally, in the same position as butt bridges, gently rotate your legs to one side and then move to the other while keeping your feet and torso planted firmly to the ground.


Edema in the legs is common among seniors who have had lymph nodes removed because the fluid is no longer moving in the path it usually takes. Therefore, the lying down exercises listed above are the perfect solution to deal with edema in the legs. With these simple exercises, seniors can experience relief from the discomfort that edema brings along.

By Caitlyn

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