A specifically designed aquatic exercise protocol to reduce chronic lower limb edema

Phlebology. 2017 Oct;32(9):594-600. doi: 10.1177/0268355516673539. Epub 2016 Oct 18.


Objective Despite the fact that muscle pump activation is known to positively impact chronic lower limb edema, objective measurements of standardized exercises for venous-lymphatic rehab are lacking. The aim of this investigation is to determine the effectiveness of an addressed physical activity exploiting the advantages of an aquatic environment. Material and methods Thirty-two lower limbs of 16 patients affected by bilateral chronic leg swelling were included (12 females, 4 males). All the patients underwent a protocol of five sessions of physical exercises specifically conceived inside a pool. Volumetry, subcutaneous thickness, ankle range of motion and symptomatology were assessed as outcome measures. Results One week after the end of the protocol, the average reduction in lower limb volume was 303.13 ± 69.72 ml ( p = 0.00002) and 334.38 ± 62.50 ml ( p = 0.000003) in the right and left legs, respectively. Ankle range of motion and feeling of heaviness significantly improved. Conclusion A specifically designed aquatic protocol is able to positively impact chronic leg swelling offering a first line rehab for this medical condition.

Keywords: Chronic venous disease; calf muscle pump function; chronic venous insufficiency; lymphoedema; venous stasis.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Ankle / physiopathology*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Edema* / diagnosis
  • Edema* / physiopathology
  • Edema* / therapy
  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Range of Motion, Articular