Exercise without compression with no adverse effect, so far so good, I hope it continues!

Hi all,

I have asked the question before about whether I should try periods without my compression garments now that my swelling has all but gone and is under control, however my concerns about the swelling coming back have stopped me trying it until recently.

I have started karate training again after quite a long break from it, primarily because I know how much stretching and flexibility is important and I am still not happy with the flexibility issues that the scar tissue from my surgery is causing. The training sessions are done barefoot and I was not comfortable using the stockings when attending these so decided to try without. So far I have had absolutely no nasty surprises! The measurements of my leg, which I take myself weekly have stayed the same and I have been training 3 times a week at around 7pm for about 1.5 hours. I generally take the stocking off at 6pm and it doesn't go back on until the following day.

I wondered if anyone else had any similar experiences and also whether the fact that I am exercising during the time I do not have compression on will be helping keep the swelling at bay?

I know that this goes against all the regular advice but it seems to be ok for me a the moment. I'll keep updating with any further news.

Best wishes to all. ;-)

11 Replies

  • Encouraging result for you, hope it continues. I reduce the amount of compression I wear when I exercise from 2 layers to one. I have also measured my leg on days when I exercise and days when I don't . There tends to be are reduction in both my legs (one is swollen, the other shows slight pitting) after exercise but that could be dehydrate after the hour+ of cycling I do. The challenge with lymphodema is our lymphatic systems are all different with different levels of effectiveness, lots of variables when we come to compare results so more data points is better!

  • Thanks Andy. That's interesting what you have said about reducing the 2 layer compression to 1 during exercise. I wonder if using class 2 compression stockings rather than the class 3's I use during normal daily life would work? The main issue I have is not with regular exercise but with karate as it is important to be able to have grip on the floor - hence going barefoot. I've not really seen any solutions to this other than wearing pumps or trainers which is not really an option.


  • Hi River

    Movement of joints and muscles certainly will be helping your swelling but the advice is there because research shows that wearing compression actually helps when exercising not just by stopping swelling getting worse. The lymphatic system has no pumps of its own it is reliant on movement of the muscles and skin to activate the deeper and the superficial lymphatics - wearing compression during exercise gives the muscles some resistance to work against and also acts as a mini massage each time you move. So glad your swelling is doing well and delighted to hear you are being so active and enjoying it - but please do consider wearing your compression whilst exercising.

  • Hi LSN and thanks for the reply and advice. I agree that in an ideal world it would be better to wear the compression stocking whilst doing karate. I do wear it during other sports, the only exception being swimming, and I don't find it causes me any problems other than the fact it tends to slip down somewhat during walking, jogging etc. I don't really want to wear the stocking during karate as it would make it very difficult to have any sort of grip on the floor in the way that you do when barefoot.

    Is there a stocking available that finishes at ankle level and leaves the foot uncovered?

    Thanks again.

  • that's exactly what i was wondering, river

    i'm an arm & torso lymphie so don't know about foot & leg gear but there must be someone who makes something that looks more like a legging at the bottom?

    the question then would be whether it's suitable for your specific needs, which is something to discuss with your stocking supplier

    i know if i wear my sleeves without gloves for any length of time my hands start looking like bananas

    i think it's worth remembering, as well, that we can't run our whole lives around what the lymph wants .... just most of it!

    plenty of arm-ies take their sleeves off for going out, or to wear some types of clothes, even at the expense of a bit of swelling, & even if you're not doing karate in a way that maximises the benefits for your lymph you're obviously getting loads of other benefit from it, & looking after your lymph in other ways

    the real test for me of whether something's ok to do or not is whether the lymph kicks up a fuss - if yours isn't, & the karate's contributing to your overall fitness, weight management, happiness .... then maybe it's ok not to wear stockings even tho the correct advice is to wear them

    if you see what i mean!

  • Hi Norberte,

    I've been having a bit of a look around today and there are quite a few 'sports compression' garments that offer low to medium compression and finish at the ankle, but too be honest I think that I would be better just leaving it off whilst I do karate!

    It doesn't seem to be having any negative effect and whilst I know it is not 'the right thing to do' I don't think there is any harm in it as long as I keep up with the compression for the rest of the time. I think if I did have a stocking that finished at the ankle I would probably just cause the foot to swell like you get with your sleeve minus the glove!

    I emailed Medi who make the compression garment that I wear at the moment and they have said that they could make me a custom garment with a stirrup foot-loop if I wanted?!?! It wouldn't be on prescription though and I'd need to get a nurse to submit all the measurements to them etc.. I'll see how I get on and maybe consider it in the future.....

    The way I look at it is that I'm going to carry on with it regardless and the Lymphoedema will just have to fit in - thankfully it seems to be cooperating quite well at the moment :-)

  • Hi guys I'm an arm-ie that takes her sleeve off for nights out and wearing sleeveless tops. And I take off for swimming or wear an old one as the chlorine has same effect on sleeves as on costumes, and you know how they go after a time........

    I'm with norberte on you looking for a legging type support that lets you practice karate barefoot.

  • I wonder if you could have a custom stocking made that is footless? Have you tried wearing a toeless stocking?

  • What about using an old stocking and just cutting the foot off at the ankle? Or making it into a sort of stirrup bottom to keep it down properly but not interfere with your grip?

    If you're not having problems with increasing swelling then that's great, but please make sure you keep a careful watch on it. It'd be better to wear your compression during the exercise but I can see why you're having problems with it.

  • "still not happy with the flexibility issues that the scar tissue from my surgery is causing."

    Hi River,

    Was the surgery you metioned to treat your lympedema?

  • Hi,

    No, the surgery was to remove a sarcoma from my thigh. The scar goes from a few inches above my knee right the way up to my groin and unfortunately this along with the radiotherapy that followed have left me with a lot of scar tissue as well as the Lymphoedema.

    The open toe stockings don't really help as they still don't allow for much grip. The stirrup option would work but at the moment all seems ok without the compression.


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