Toddlers have a bottomless pit of energy – this is a fact I am very familiar with! And when you put a five year old and a two year old together as in my house, I sometimes wonder how I am still standing by bedtime! However, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Children should be active and should enjoy walking, running, jumping, climbing and anything else that gets their little bodies moving.
This is particularly important when it comes to managing Lymphoedema as exercise gets muscles pumping which then helps to squeeze the lymph vessels and keeps the lymph fluid moving away from the affected area. However, over-exercising can make Lymphoedema worse so it is important to find a happy medium. As Lucia grows up we will be helping her find this balance to ensure that she gets the best out of exercise while enjoying herself at the same time.
Walking, running, dancing?
In the early days, before I knew the ins and outs of the condition and before Lucia was even on her feet I used to worry if she would be able to walk properly and run around like other kids. Having danced ballet for 14 years of my childhood I had always dreamed about having a little girl who would want to do the same – and at one point I didn’t know if she would be able too. But of course, as time has went on we now know she can do anything she wants! I have even received a lovely email from a parent who has a little girl with Lymphoedema who has danced for years and won competitions!
At 18 months Lucia found her feet and hasn’t looked back. She is very independent and insists on walking or running as much as possible. At times, trying to get her into the buggy can be a nightmare as she does the ‘toddler poker trick’ where she stiffens up and makes it impossible to strap her into it!
We are thrilled she enjoys being so active and is pretty steady on her feet – especially when she is running away from us! When she gets tired she can stumble a little more and we assume this is because her right leg must be feeling a little heavy – but then all toddlers can look a little drunk when they are tired!
As well as running about with her big brother she loves to show off her dance moves to any type of music and particularly loves to bounce on her trampoline and splash in the swimming pool – two activities that we know are excellent for her feet and legs.
Believe it or not the trampoline – a mini one – stays in our living room so Lucia and Max can bounce whenever they want. Lucia has already mastered climbing on and off by herself and is really starting to get some air now as she is learning to jump higher.
Bouncing is wonderful exercise for Lymphoedema. It makes total sense that it is good for the lymphatic system as all the jumping up and down and contracting of muscles helps to push the lymph fluid throughout the body. And as it is super springy it doesn’t put any strain on her joints either. But most of all, as she is jumping she laughs and laughs because she absolutely loves it!
Then there is the swimming pool! Friday is swim day and when she wakes up and I tell her what day it is she says ‘mummy and ‘cia go to swimming pool!’. Water acts as natural compression so I can imagine it must feel lovely for Lucia. The movement of the water against the body also helps with the movement of the lymph and blood as the muscles and skin are stimulated by the water.
For the whole time we are in the pool Lucia giggles and splashes, kicks and squeals and by the end of the session doesn’t want to get out! She is already sitting on the side and launching herself into the pool, kicking her legs like mad, going under the water, down the little slide and overall just having a whale of a time!
Getting out is the worst part as we try and get into a warm shower and dressed as quickly as possible! Not so easy when there are compression tights to get on but with a LOT of talcum powder and a little bit of bribery called chocolate, we have it down to a tee!
In between bouncing and swimming, dancing and chasing after Max, Lucia also loves getting outside, pushing her baby’s buggy and playing in the garden – though the Northern Ireland rainy weather can sometimes make outside fun a little tricky! However, as my mum always says ‘you won’t melt in the rain’, so all we need now is to find a pair of nice wide welly boots and we can start splashing in puddles!