Pilot study of the impact of sporting compression garments on composition and volume of normal and lymphedema legs

Kyra Sierakowski, Neil Piller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Once clinically manifested as a swollen limb, lymphedema can be difficult to manage. Our focus thus must shift from reactive treatment to proactive management and prevention. On the basis of strong evidence in the literature, lymphedema specialists now encourage exercise as it can improve lymphatic drainage through muscle pump action. However, exercise may increase the lymph load on the vulnerable limb. We aimed to examine whether low level sporting compression is a reasonable recommendation for those with early stage lymphedema by measuring whether sporting compression (SC) tights decrease limb extracellular fluid as measured by Bio-impedance Spectroscopy (BIS) and Perometry in legs following exercise in both healthy controls and those with early stage lymphedema. A group of normal subjects (n=10) and a group of Stage 1 (ISL) lymphaedema patients (n=9) were enrolled. Efforts were made to match participants in each group. For those with unilateral lymphedema, the non-affected leg was used as a control. All were measured using BIS, Perometry and Indurometry before and after exercise both with and without sporting compression clothing. The exercise regime was standardized and involved treadmill walking at increasing rates within each person's activity limitation. SC tights were shown to significantly decrease the fluid build up caused by exercise in lymphedema-affected limbs as measured with BIS (p=0.0302). Perometry measurements showed that SC caused a significant decrease in limb volume post exercise of the whole cohort (p=0.0081) and of the control Group B (p=0.0348). Our findings support the notion that SC may provide a socially acceptable and effective means of lymphedema control during exercise for early lymphedema management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-195
Number of pages9
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2014


  • Bioimpedance spectroscopy
  • Leg lymphedema
  • Leg volumes
  • Perometry
  • Sporting compression


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