Meet Cindy, Marathon Master

Cindy wears compression socks for marathons for this reason.

At the age of 76, Cindy Peterson has run 49 marathons, is a founding member of the Mercury Masters running team, and is also a member of the Seven Continents Club, a privilege she earned from running in at least one marathon on each continent. Cindy ran her first marathon at the age of 55 back in 1994 and has no plans to stop running anytime soon. She is currently looking forward to running her 50th marathon in a few weeks.

We found out about this amazing woman when she called our customer service staff to reorder one of her favorite running accessories – Allegro compression hosiery! She mentioned her upcoming milestone and we just had to know more.  We had the opportunity to get to know Cindy in a recent interview, and pick her brain about marathon advice, strategy, training. Here are Cindy’s best tips and what fuels her motivation and dedication to marathon training.

Q: What motivated you to start running?

It all started about 35 years ago when Cindy made a bucket list of 30 things she wanted to achieve in her life. She looked at it for 2 weeks, then put it away, and forgot about it for a little over 10 years…only to find that 28 things were achieved without even trying! The 29th thing was “own a Jaguar”, and the 30th goal was “RUN A MARATHON”.

“I watched the NYC Marathon in 1993, when the Founder, Fred Lebow, ran with a brain tumor. I was so motivated that if he could run with a brain tumor and complete the Marathon, I could also run it, even though I had varicose veins, couldn’t walk a block, and was 20 pounds overweight. I was motivated!!”

Cindy crossed off the last item on her bucket list in 1994, (a year after rediscovering the list), when she completed her first marathon in NYC. Now, flash-forward to 2016, as she prepares to run her 50th marathon back in NYC in a few weeks.

“Reaching my goals with the training every day, makes me feel great, makes my mind sharp, and feel a lot younger than my 76 years of age.”


Q: Tell us about your experience with the “Mercury Masters.” How does getting involved with a group change the running experience for you?

Cindy is one of the Founders of the “Mercury Masters,” a running team for women 50 and over. It all started with a handful of runners who met in NYC once a week and trained together in Central Park.

“We really bonded together when we ran the Mini Marathon, which is a 10K women’s only race in NYC. Then we set out to run the 1996 100th Boston Marathon, where 5 of us came through the finish line together holding hands. Since then, we have 74 members in the group.”

The Mercury Masters team encourages each other by running together, attending running classes together and supporting each other. The President keeps the group motivated and informed about upcoming team races, as well as any other member news. This group of ladies have played a big role in encouraging Cindy to run.

“Running with The “MERMS” as we are referred to by other teammates, has been a wonderful experience through the years, without which I would not have completed so many marathons. We motivate each other.”


Q: How do compression stockings benefit you during training? Why do you love Allegro Sheer Open Toe Pantyhose for running?

Many runners wear compression socks to enhance performance, speed up muscle recovery afterwards and prevent injury like shin splints. Cindy loves wearing our Allegro Sheer Compression Pantyhose for training and marathons. In her early running career, she started wearing compression hosiery to manage varicose veins and relieve the pain caused by them. Compression socks have played a vital role in allowing Cindy to train.

“The support pantyhose were a big relief. I will not go out for a run without wearing support pantyhose. They give me stability, comfort and confidence, and are a part of my uniform. I would not train without them because I would not be able to run very far with the pain from the varicose veins. They were a miracle for me. I had absolutely no pain after a 6, 10, or even a 15 mile run.”

Cindy wears the Allegro Essential Sheer Open Toe Pantyhose (#32) in 20-30 mmHg compression for long training runs and marathons. This level of compression is ideal for boosting athletic performance and for managing varicose veins. Cindy also likes to wear the Allegro Essential Sheer Open Toe Pantyhose (#14) in 15-20 mmHg, which is great for speeding up recovery and relieving muscle fatigue and minor swelling.

“The Allegro open toe pantyhose gave me great support on my calves, quads and my toes were free. They had more stability than my previous hose, and I was able to start running again. It was an amazing find!!”

You may have seen runners wearing bright colored athletic knee high socks. Other runners and gym-goers opt for compression leggings or pantyhose for full leg coverage. Cindy loves wearing sheer pantyhose with an open toe. Since there is no difference in the compression provided between an open or closed toe style or between a sheer or opaque fabric, it’s mostly up to personal preference.

“I love the sheer style because it gives my legs a great look. It does not look like I am wearing pantyhose at all. The reason for the open toe is so my toes are not constricted at all. Two years ago I had major surgery on my toes, which made my feet wider. My support pantyhose would constrict my toes and cause me great pain and discomfort.”


Q: What’s an overall week of training look like for you?

When Cindy isn’t training, she is running about 6 miles a day, 6 days a week, adding up to a total of 30 miles each week. While prepping for a marathon, Cindy averages 50 miles weekly. If you want to run a good marathon, Cindy advises completing at least three 20 mile runs. To prepare for a marathon, it’s a complete lifestyle change. Diet is also important, just like exercising and staying hydrated.

“When setting out for a run, I eat a banana, and that’s great for a 6 to 8 mile run. When running a long run, I bring “Gu” which is an Energy Gel. I also have a product called “The Right Stuff”, which is an electrolyte drink additive for hydration to make you perform stronger and recover faster. It is developed by NASA for astronauts.”


Q: After completing 49 Marathons, what advice do you have for beginner runners?

Cindy’s advice to a runner preparing for their first race is to partner with a friend or join a group like the Mercury Masters for motivation. This will help you stay dedicated, the time will go by faster and you have someone to push you. When you’re running with a friend, they won’t let you make excuses for missing a run! It also makes it more fun to train for the same race and help each other grow.

“The time spent running will go quicker and you will begin to feel the energy you get from the daily run. Eventually, you can plan for your first 5K, and move on to a 10K. Training is the key, and maybe you can even plan to do your first marathon. All you need is DETERMINATION! I ran my First Marathon at age 55. You can do it too no matter how old you are!!” – Cindy Peterson

Want to know more? Check out this interview Cindy did with New Jersey TV:

Father’s Day Gift Guide + Giveaway!

With Father’s Day right around the corner, we have the ultimate gift guide for last minute shoppers, plus a chance to win him a gift! Dad’s can be difficult to shop for, but we searched the internet to find some gifts that every dad will love and use! Plus, one lucky winner will bring home a BrightLife Direct gift card for their dad this Father’s Day – giveaway details & entry below.

Father's Day Gift Guide

Instead of going out for dinner, prepare a nice barbecue for your dad this Father’s Day. Pick up his favorite snacks, grill some burgers, and sit back and relax. If your dad is a sports enthusiast, throw around the football or play some backyard baseball. If you really want to surprise him, pick up some tickets to see his favorite sports team, or head over to see that movie he’s been talking about.

When it comes to getting presents, for my dad I always find my mind blanking. I want to get him something that I know he will love and use. Every dad always tells you it’s the thought that counts, but every now and then it’s nice to get him a gift that “wows” even him! For the fitness-friendly dad, pick him up some accessories for his next game or workout, like a golf bag or weightlifting gloves. You can even cheer him on from the sidelines in a customized beach chair.

SIGVARIS MICROFIBER SHADESFor the dapper dad, think of Mad Men’s Donald Draper, and ask yourself what he would like for Father’s Day. If your dad has a beard, introduce him to beard oil or conditioner – it’s all the rage in the beard community these days. No beard? No problem. The Art of Shaving has you covered on travel accessories, aftershave and all the shaving essentials your dad could want. When it comes to grooming, you can’t really go wrong and your dad will appreciate one less stop on his list of errands!

Let’s face it. All dads can use a watch. Whether it’s to be on time to that board meeting or to pick the kids up at school, time is of the essence. If your dad frequently says “if you’re not five minutes early, you’re late,” a watch is a great present for him. Or on the other hand, if your dad tends to run a little late, a watch is a perfect Father’s Day gift to help him keep track of time. You can even get a watch with a built-in GPS and fitness tracker if your dad is focused on being healthy or active. Another practical gift he’s sure to love is a new wallet. Hopefully your dad isn’t rocking the George Costanza wallet from Seinfeld, but if he is, definitely do him a favor and help him get organized. He will be very thankful!

Another thing every dad will be thankful for? Compression socks! If your dad has a bold style, pick him out a pair of Sigvaris Microfiber Shades compression socks. Available in four striped colors and two new shades – heather navy and heather graphite, these socks provide 15-20 mmHg compression to prevent fatigue and swelling while energizing legs. Microfiber is moisture-wicking, so it will keep him cool and dry. These socks are great to wear while exercising, or afterwards to promote muscle recovery.
Sigvaris Shades compression socks in pink  sigvaris shades compression socks in onyx  sigvaris shades compression socks in graphite heather  sigvaris shades compression socks in graphite  sigvaris shades compression socks in navy heather  sigvaris shades compression socks in navy

Give your dad the gift of comfort. The Allegro Milk Socks aren’t your average compression socks. These socks are ridiculously soft and come in a variety of solid colors to pair with suits or jeans. The Milk Socks provide 15-20 mmHg of compression for travel and everyday wear. If your dad sits at a desk all day or is standing for long periods of time, these socks will prevent his legs and feet from being sore and tired at the end of the day.
milk sock in black  milk sock in navy  milk sock in white  milk sock in grey

Lastly, don’t forget a personal touch. A handmade card or nice picture frame goes a long way. Handmade gifts are always worth more than any present. A nice dinner at home, swapping old stories and spending some time together will make a memorable Father’s Day. Plus, it will give him a chance to reminisce about the “good ol’ days.”

And finally, the part you’ve been waiting for – enter below to win a $50 gift card for Father’s Day! Share the giveaway on social media or leave a comment on this blog post to win. The winner will be announced on Friday so you can surprise your dad with a gift card on Sunday. Good luck!

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Shop These Gifts For Father’s Day:

Holiday Gift Guide 2015!

It’s that time of year again! With Christmas right around the corner, here are some ideas to start crossing people off of your list. Let’s start with the guys.

Holiday Gift Guide For Men!

If you’re drawing a blank on what to get your male friends and family members, think about useful and functional presents. Guys tend to like practical gifts, so look for something they can use often. H&M has a lot of great shirts and jackets at great prices right now. You could also look for a nice bag or wallet to keep his things organized. If your man tends to run on the late side, get him a watch as a funny way to help him keep track of the time.

Now that “No-Shave November” is over, it’s time to break out the razor! Celebrate by getting him a nice grooming set. You can find these at Target, Walmart or your local mall. Another great must-have item this season is a comfy, warm hat. They even make hats with speakers in them now!

Compression socks are great for any guy who travels, exercises or for someone who sits or stands for long periods of time. They help to reduce leg fatigue and blood clots, which is important to keep him happy and healthy. The socks shown above are made by Sockwell. This brand is great for casual wear. Compression socks are available in tons of styles, fabrics and colors for any occasion. Comfort is everything these days, so make sure he has a comfortable pair of boots during the winter months!

Get the look:

1. H&M Parka / 2. H&M Shirt / 3. H&M Button Down Shirt / 4. Target Gift Card / 5. Beats Headphones / 6. Slouchy Hat / 7. August Steiner Stainless Steel Watch / 8. Sockwell Men’s Circulator Stripe 15-20mmHg Compression Sock / 9. H&M Leather Messenger Bag / 10. H&M Boots / 11. Buxton Men’s Grooming Set

 

If the men on your shopping list love technology or STAR WARS, here are some of our favorite picks:

Gifts for the Techy

If you have friends or family who are anxiously awaiting the new Star Wars movie, get them a Darth Vader toaster, Death Star cutting board or an R2D2 USB Flash Drive. For the cold commute to work this winter, pick him up a pair of driving gloves or a scarf. You can’t go wrong with sunglasses – they are a necessity in any season. Compression socks are also a must to keep his legs energized all day long and eliminate the feeling of tired, achy legs. Those commutes can be pretty lengthy and let’s face it – nobody likes cramps!

For your man on the go, a portable charger is a great idea so he can charge his phone or any other USB-charging device from anywhere. You can also pick him up a briefcase or backpack to carry around his new gadgets! If you’re looking for some other technology gift ideas, try a nice camera for that vacation you’ve been hinting at, wireless bluetooth speakers or an fitness armband to hold his phone while working out.

Get the look:

 

Now for the ladies. If you are completely stumped on what to get the special woman in your life, try some spa-inspired gifts. Here are our favorite products to help her relax after a long day.

Gifts for Her

For your leading lady, pamper her with the beauty essentials – makeup, nail polish, body lotion, bubble bath and chapstick. These gifts are great for her friends too! A lot of stores offer gift baskets with different kinds of foods and small items that are tailored towards different interests. These are easy last minute gifts as well.

For a more sentimental gift, pick out a picture frame and put an image of your favorite memory with her in it. Or, you can fill the frame with a a picture of a future trip to take together. You can even get her a passport case to go with it! You can also pick up a nicely scented candle and dinner for a relaxing evening at home.

Cold weather items like scarves, hats and gloves are nice generic but meaningful gifts. To me, a great gift is something people will actually use and not just shove to the back of their closet. For women who frequently work out, travel, or for those who sit or stand for long periods of time at work, compression socks are a must. The Sockwell Women’s Chevron Compression Socks shown above increase circulation to prevent varicose veins and spider veins. Plus, they make her legs feel amazing, even after a long day on her feet. Finally, Sockwell provides a fashionable and functional solution to the health and beauty dilemma.

Lastly – Remember, you can never go wrong with jewelry.

Get the look:

 

SHOP TRAVEL SOCKS

 

Invisible Illness Awareness Week 2015

Dysautonomia and POTS – Invisible Illness Awareness Week

bld-pots

Dysautonomia refers to a number of conditions that describe the breakdown or failure of the autonomic nervous system (ANS). The ANS regulates unconscious or involuntary body functions, including the cardiovascular system, metabolic system and more. To diagnose Dysautonomia, a tilt-table test is used to evaluate how the patient regulates blood pressure regarding stressful events.

Some of the most common Dysautonomia symptoms include blood pressure changes, fast heart rates, anxiety, dizziness, lightheadedness, stomach pain, mood swings, migraines and insomnia. For some people with Dysautonomia, getting out of bed can even be a struggle. For others, travel may be limited or nonexistent. These symptoms can be mild or severe and may even seem “invisible” to someone who doesn’t know what to look for. Patients with Dysautonomia may have symptoms that come and go, some caused or enhanced by stress.

Over a million Americans suffer from a primary autonomic system disorder. One of the most common conditions is Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS). Others include Neurocardiogenic Syncope (NCS), Orthostatic Intolerance (OI), Vasovagal Syncope, Neurally Mediated Hypotension (NMH), Multiple Systems Atrophy (MSA), Post-Viral Dysautonomia, Pure Autonomic Failure (PAF), Familial Dysautonomia (FD), Non-Familial Dysautonomia and Generalized Dysautonomia.

With so many people affected by this condition, you would think that there would be tons of information on it. However, there is not. After researching POTS and Dysautonomia resources, some of the most helpful information was found on personal blogs. The biggest thing to take away here is that your voice matters. With limited information and scientific research, personal experiences and advice are sometimes the best things to rely on. That is why Invisible Illness Awareness Week is so important. It builds and strengthens a community of people who are fighting to be heard.

As of now, there is no cure for Dysautonomia. To relieve symptoms, many patients turn to physical therapy, drinking lots of fluids, increasing sodium intake as well as limiting the amount of caffeine and sugary drinks that consumed. You can check with your doctor about getting medication to relieve more severe symptoms and determine what the best option would be for you. There is also a new treatment called TVAM, or Transvascular Autonomic Modulation, to improve the autonomic function in patients.

Wearing compression socks can also help alleviate symptoms to improve circulation in the body which helps to decrease lightheadedness, dizziness and normalize the heart rate and blood pressure. Compression socks also help to reduce the amount of pooling blood, swelling and fatigue and to prevent blood clots and varicose veins. Compression socks are also recommended for exercise and traveling, especially if you’re flying. If you have Dysautonomia and have a hard time traveling, wearing compression socks could be your secret weapon to getting back on the road or in the gym. Compression garments are available in knee high, thigh high and waist high options in a variety of compression levels, colors and sizes.

The most important thing to remember is that you are not alone. There are tons of people who are suffering from an invisible illness too. With the help of bloggers, support groups and organizations, together we can bring awareness to these conditions. Share your story and join the #invisiblefight today.

Invisible Illness Awareness Week is extremely important to share the unheard voices of so many people who are suffering. Many people struggle with undiagnosed or rare conditions that many medical practitioners are unaware of. The good news is, you can help make a difference. Starting September 28 – October 4th, share your stories or those of loved ones to promote awareness about rare conditions. You can also spread the word by participating on social media by including #InvisibleIllness in your posts. What do you fight for?

Additional Resources:

Invisible Illness Awareness Week

October is Dysautonomia Awareness Month

Lauren Stiles – Dysautonomia 101

Best POTS and Dysautonomia Blogs

Compression Socks

Dysautonomia Symptoms

Lifestyle Adaptions for POTS

What You Can Eat To Prevent Varicose Veins

Varicose veins can be caused by sitting or standing for long periods of time, or from running or lifting weights. This condition can be hereditary, or triggered by your lifestyle. There are a couple of things you can do to prevent varicose veins and spider veins, including wearing compression socks, taking walks, and even incorporating certain foods into your diet.

Avocados contain a high concentration of glutathione, which helps to protect your heart, veins and arteries from oxidant damage. Glutathione is a tripeptide molecule that also ensures that Vitamin C and Vitamin E are functioning properly. If you have varicose veins, it is important to incorporate lots of foods with these vitamins into your diet. Vitamin C helps to increase circulation and keep your veins strong. Vitamin E helps to enhance the effects of Vitamin C.

Blueberries are great for your heart and also help to improve your memory, fight aging, help you digest, improve skin health and enhance weight loss. Blueberries also help to prevent varicose veins because they repair damaged proteins in the blood vessel walls and promote the overall health of the vascular system.  They also are a great source of fiber and Vitamin E. It is important to drink a lot of water throughout the day to avoid constipation, which puts pressure on your veins. Try to avoid any coffee, tea or alcohol, as to not dehydrate your body. Instead, try something rich in fiber, such as apples, berries, flaxseed, oats, carrots, peas, beans or barley.

Watercress, or the “cure of cures” according to Hippocrates, the father of medicine, benefits anyone with varicose veins. It is available year round and goes great in a salad. Ginger is also frequently used to treat varicose veins because it can dissolve fibrin in the blood vessels, which can be difficult for someone with varicose veins to break down. Fibrin causes your veins to get hard and lumpy, so it is important to dissolve it. Like ginger, rosemary also helps to improve circulation. Rosemary helps to strengthen the capillaries and protect tissues from damage. You can add rosemary to fish, fruits and meats, but it is also commonly found in skin care products that are used to treat varicose veins.

Those green vegetables your mom always force fed you when you were younger really pay off in the long run. Asparagus strengthens your veins and capillaries to keep them from rupturing and helps to prevent varicose veins. You can also eat beets to significantly reduce your homocysteine levels. This amino acid can damage your blood vessels, so make sure you eat your beets! The tops of the beets can be cooked and eaten just like spinach. Lastly, buckwheat is also great for vascular health because it is high in protein and helps with tissue repair. Buckwheat is one of the best natural sources for rutin, which may be a reason for varicose veins and spider veins developing if you do not consume enough of it.

By reducing the amount of calories you consume, you can help to reduce your risk of varicose veins, or improve the appearance of varicose veins. According to www.healwithfood.org, “a high energy intake is associated with an increased risk of varicose veins because it can contribute to the development of obesity and excess body weight.” If you are overweight and have varicose veins, you should eat five to six small meals throughout the day to boost and maintain your metabolism, while crushing the temptation to eat sweets.

Varicose veins can be prevented or treated simply by changing your diet. This condition affects up to 60% of people. Check out some of the recipes below to keep your body happy and healthy. You don’t have to give up all of the foods you love either. There are tons of different recipes to choose from, including zucchini noodles, tomato soup, chocolate cake and more. You can’t help but find a delicious meal that promotes strong, healthy veins.

Resources

Breakfast Recipes

Salad Recipes

Soup Recipes

Dinner Recipes

Dessert Recipes

Drink Recipes

Varicose Veins & Diet

Are You At Risk For Varicose Veins?

Stop Snoring and Start Wearing Compression Socks

Did you know that there are a few simple things you can do to stop snoring loudly at night? It’s as easy as wearing compression socks during the day, or changing the position you typically sleep in. If you’re sick and tired of snoring and keeping your loved ones awake, here are some tips to help you sleep better, without modifying your routine much.

Although snoring is a somewhat normal occurrence, your body is trying to tell you something. Most people don’t recognize the symptoms of a sleeping disorder early on to be able to treat it properly. If you often snore loudly when you sleep, it can be a sign of sleep apnea, a condition that occurs when you stop and start breathing while you rest. This may happen hundreds of times a night and can last for 10-20 seconds each time. This prevents you from getting a good night’s sleep, which is why you feel slow or tired the next day, no matter how long you slept the night before.

Some of the most common symptoms of sleep apnea include snoring, irregular breathing while sleeping, morning headaches, memory or learning problems, waking up with a dry mouth or sore throat, being unable to concentrate, and feeling tired or have trouble staying awake during the day. Sleep apnea may also be the reason why you feel depressed, irritable or experience mood swings. It is important to understand the difference between snoring and a sleeping disorder to make sure there isn’t a serious problem going on. Sleep apnea can cause diabetes, heart disease, weight gain and even increase your risk of a stroke if left untreated.

Whether you have a sleeping disorder or if you are just a loud snorer, there are tons of things you can do to get a better night’s sleep. Start by wearing compression socks during the day. Those with chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) wear compression socks to reduce the how much fluid builds up in their legs during the day. At night, this fluid moves into the neck area, which can lead to sleep apnea and snoring. If you have to get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom a lot, wearing compression socks will also help to reduce this. Compression stockings are also great to energize tired, achy legs, reduce swelling, improve blood flow and to wear while traveling or exercising. Choose from tons of everyday and dress styles in knee highs, thigh highs and pantyhose options. After a long day of being on your feet, you will love how great your legs feel.

“The Toronto study found that by the end of two weeks, patients with CVI who used compression stockings cut the number of apnea episodes in half while patients who didn’t use the socks showed no change.”

Some quick and easy things you can do to stop snoring is to use a humidifier when you sleep, take a shower or change your sleeping position. Taking a shower helps to open your nasal passages, which eliminates a stuffy nose and helps you breath better. Dry air can lead to snoring, so try using a humidifier to cut down on snoring. One of the best solutions to stop snoring is to change how you sleep.  Start sleeping on your side instead of your back. When you lay on your back it makes it harder to breathe as the airway narrows, which may be the source of your snoring. Use nasal spray before you go to bed to keep your nasal passages open so you can breathe better at night.

A couple of other things you can do for a more long-term solution are to stop smoking and maintaining a healthy weight. Another key factor is to keep a clean house because dust often stirs up allergies and can also lead to snoring. Talk to your doctor to find the best sleeping solution for you. Over 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, and most aren’t even aware of it. For more information, check out the resources below.

Resources

What Is Sleep Apnea?

American Sleep Apnea Association

BrightLife Direct – Compression Socks

Click Here If You Are New To Compression

Men’s Health: The No-Snore Sleep Solution

Blog: Sleep Through The Night With Compression Socks

National Lymphedema Network #LymphChat on CDT

Yesterday, the National Lymphedema Network (NLN) hosted its first ever #LymphChat on Twitter to discuss treatment and surgical options for people with lymphedema. Special guests Nicole Stout and Dr. Jay Granzow led the discussion covering Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT), compression garments and other treatment options. Nicole Stout is a lymphedema therapist, researcher and NLN board member. Dr. Jay Granzow is a microsurgeon who specializes in the surgical treatment of lymphedema, including Lymphatic Venous Anastomosis (LVA), Vascularized Lymph Node Transfer (VLNT), Suction-Assisted Protein Lipectomy (SAPL) and more. This chat provided great insight as people shared their lymphedema experiences, questions and management tips.

The first topic covered the components of Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT), which is the most common non-invasive lymphedema treatment. CDT is the first thing that the National Lymphedema Network recommends. Overall, a lot of people found CDT to be effective but difficult. Nicole Stout noted that using compression garments and taking good care of yourself can reduce the number of sessions needed. “CDT has many components and requires intervention from a skilled therapist. After treatment, patients keep up with CDT on their own,” she added. Complete Decongestive Therapy has four components: Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD), compression bandaging, skin care and exercise.

Manual Lymph Drainage is a big part of lymphedema care. It is very time consuming, but can make patients feel a lot better. Depending on the patient, some do their MLD routinely, others use pumps at home, and some don’t practice MLD at all. Using compression garments and pump therapy are very beneficial, as well as practicing deep breathing to help stimulate the lymphatic system. Check out this video on manual lymphatic drainage for more information. Remember to stay hydrated before and after MLD to avoid feeling sick or tired.

There are a lot of compression options you can use to manage lymphedema, including elastic/day garments, bandages and bandage alternatives. One #LymphChat participant shared that a custom Juzo armsleeve and glove work well during the day, and wears the JoViPak armsleeve at night. Compression armsleeves help to prevent and treat lymphedema in the arm, but brands like Juzo, JoViPak, and Solaris offer compression garments to treat lymphedema in other body parts – including the legs and trunk area. BrightLife Direct offers tons of brands, colors and compression levels to choose from so you can find the perfect garment for you.

Skin care is also extremely important for Complete Decongestive Therapy and preventing infections. You can also wear silver liners, or compression stockings that are made with silver to fight off bacteria and prevent infections. During the day, you can use Medi Day Gel to moisturize your skin. Apply it before you put on your compression garment to make it easier to don. Don’t worry, this gel will not damage your garments like other lotions may. Some moisturizers break down the material due to the lycra in the garment and reduce its effectiveness and breathability, so make sure you use a garment-friendly gel! Medi Day Gel quickly absorbs into your skin to avoid sticky or greasy residue. At night, you can sooth your legs with Medi Night Creme. It also helps to treat venous insufficiency.

The last component of CDT is exercising, which helps to stimulate the lymphatic system.  Lymphedema patient, Amy Santiago says that opening up the Lymph channels (neck/collar, armpits, stomach and breathing) help her before starting cardio or training. One way to open up these channels before exercising is with Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD). Swimming, yoga and snowshoeing are all great exercises for lymphedema patients.

Towards the end of the #LymphChat, participants discussed surgical treatments for Lymphedema. According to Dr. Jay Granzow, Suction-Assisted Protein Lipectomy (SAPL), Lymphatic Venous Anastomosis (LVA) and Vascularized Lymph Node Transfer (VLNT) are the most effective lymphedema surgeries. SAPL greatly reduces excess volume in chronic lymphedema patients, and is generally performed in later cases when solids accumulate in the leg or arm. Frequently after SAPL, the use of a compression garment allows you to significantly cut down on CDT, or eliminates the need for it altogether. Other patients, usually in the earlier stages of lymphedema, undergo LVA and VLNT due to excess fluid buildup. You can also combine VLNT and LVA after healing from SAPL to treat solid and fluid components. Compression therapy after these procedures are vital.

Dr. Jay Granzow believes that depending on the patient, each type of surgery can be a success, based on the stage they’re in. As Nicole pointed out, “not just any surgeon can perform these surgeries. Special expertise is needed.” There is a limited number of surgeons that are trained in lymphedema surgery. Although most of Dr. Jay Granzow’s patients have had their surgeries covered by insurance, it depends on your insurance plan. To determine if you qualify for surgery, see a surgeon that specializes in these treatments for an evaluation, as well as a lymphedema therapist to figure out what the best treatment options are for you. Click here for more information on SAPL, VLNT and LVA procedures.

On the first Tuesday of every month, the National Lymphedema Network will continue to host a Twitter Chat, so make sure you follow them on Twitter at @lymphnet and include #lymphchat in your tweets to participate! If you think of any other questions that you would like to ask, email nln@lymphnet.org. The next Twitter Chat will be on Tuesday, May 5th, 2015 about lymphedema and exercise. Don’t miss it!

Additional Resources

Chat with us on Twitter! #LymphChat

BrightLife Direct  |  Nicole Stout  |  Dr. Jay Granzow  |  National Lymphedema Network

MANAGING LYMPHEDEMA

For Lymphedema Awareness Month, we are donating to the Lymphatic Education and Research Network (LE&RN) to support the education and research of lymphedema and lymphatic disease. We are working with blogger Britta Vander Linden to make a difference. During the month of March, you can help us donate 1% of the total purchase price to LE&RN by using the coupon code “DONATE” at checkout.

Britta Vander Linden writes an inspiring blog about her experience with lymphedema. She was diagnosed with primary lymphedema when she was 23 years old. Since then, she has juggled a demanding job and keeping up with her blog, Lymphedema Diary.com, in her spare time. She was inspired to start a blog to connect with others struggling with the same illness. Her blog serves as a network for her and her readers to support and comfort one another. “I felt it was time to share my experiences with others in an effort to try to make their life easier. I hoped to make Lymphedema Diary the resource I wish I had when I was first diagnosed.” Each month, thousands of readers spanning across over 100 countries read her blog. Check out her inspiring story and get tips on how to manage lymphedema.

Before she started Lymphedema Diary, Britta turned to local support groups for help, but they didn’t regularly meet and were located at inconvenient places. A lot of them were made up on breast cancer survivors, so she had a hard time connecting with them because she didn’t feel like they were going through the same thing. Once she got involved on social media, she was able to connect with people all around the world to share tips on anything from finding good therapists to lymphedema management.

Her most recent addition to Lymphedema Diary is a new blog series called “A Leg Up: Compression Stocking Tips–What the Doctors Don’t Tell You.” Those with lymphedema use compression garments every day to manage their condition. Britta says, “No matter the difference in type or severity of lymphedema from one person to another, all of us are struggling to deal with compression garments.  I think that’s why the series has been so popular.”

Britta has been a customer with us for about a year because we have all “Four P’s,” or what she refers to as the four key things every stocking dealer should have: people, price, perks and policies. Juzo Soft Pantyhose in 30-40mmHg is her go-to compression garment because of how soft the fabric is, and because they don’t look like compression tights. According to her, the fabric is very susceptible to snags, however. Britta also suggests the Juzo Dynamic Pantyhose for exercising because they are much more durable. The downside is that they aren’t as fashion-friendly as the Juzo Soft pantyhose, and the thickness of the fabric makes it harder to get the stockings off.

Some other things that Britta has found that help her to manage her lymphedema are regular exercise, getting a healthy amount of sleep, eating a low-sodium diet and staying hydrated. “If I don’t keep up on any one of these habits, I feel it in my legs. For exercise, I prefer swimming, yoga and anything that gets me lifting the legs up and down. In the winter, I enjoy snowshoeing.” She developed a few techniques that help keep her legs stay happy and healthy during a long day at work.

Snowshoe

Check out Britta snowshoeing! This is one of her favorite ways to keep lymph fluid flowing in the winter.

When she was first diagnosed, she underwent six weeks of complete decongestive therapy (CDT). Although she is happy that she did this therapy on both of her legs, the process was exhausting. Between waking up early in the morning and the long commute before work, it wasn’t a good long-term solution. Overall, it was beneficial because she learned a lot about lymphedema care. One thing she doesn’t believe helped her was the acupuncture treatments she tried at about the same time.

There are hundreds of millions of people around the world who are suffering from lymphedema, but there is no cure. LE&RN has done an amazing job over the years in the advocacy, research and education of this condition. You can become a member for only $5 a month and help support the cause year-round. March is a very important month for spreading the word about lymphedema. Many doctors and patients do not know what symptoms to look for in the early stages of lymphedema. LE&RN is working to change this through education. Many people are not aware that the most common cause of lymphedema is cancer treatment. The removal of lymph nodes significantly increases your risk, but there are a couple of things that you can do after cancer treatment that can reduce your risk of lymphedema.

 

Click here to read more about what we’re doing for Lymphedema Awareness Month

Thanks for reading!

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Benefits of Compression Hosiery During Pregnancy

With a baby on the way, there is always an endless list of things to prepare for and read up on. Keeping your body healthy while you’re pregnant is one of the most important things to stay on top of. Most women experience swelling, aches and pains in their legs, ankles and feet when they are expecting. While you can elevate your legs and apply ice to sooth these problems, there is another way to relieve the pain and even prevent these symptoms from occurring.

If you suffer from tired, aching legs, especially when you sit or stand for a long time, wearing compression socks help reduce discomfort. When you are pregnant, you are more at risk of developing varicose veins. In fact, 40% of women develop varicose veins during pregnancy. This condition occurs when your blood is not circulating properly. Compression hosiery helps to prevent varicose veins from forming by pumping blood back to your heart from your legs. Gradient compression improves circulation in your legs, which helps to prevent blood clots and reduce fatigue. Products with gradient compression apply the most pressure at the ankle, and decreases as you go up the leg. Maternity Pantyhose are a great way to keep your legs happy, healthy and energized. Compression helps to keep you on your feet all day without the swelling and pain. Most importantly, compression garments are completely safe to wear while you are pregnant.

Expecting mothers can really benefit from these products because they help reduce the amount of strain on the body. The Preggers Maternity line, features tights that are made with a soft and stretchy belly panel that grows with you. They are made with moisture-wicking fabric that keeps your legs cool and comfortable, and are designed for everyday use. Another great option is to try a pair of Medi Comfort Maternity Pantyhose, which are made using 3D knitting technology and microfiber yarns for a luxurious, soft fit. In addition, they are antimicrobial, meaning they fight off bacteria and prevent odor. You can even machine wash and dry them. If you are looking for maternity pantyhose that won’t break the bank, try a pair of Allegro Sheer Maternity Pantyhose. Time is precious, so save it and prevent daily discomfort and swelling just by adding compression! If pantyhose aren’t your style, you can also wear knee highs or thigh highs to keep your feet and legs from aching or swelling. Click here if you are looking for something with a bit more fun and stylish.

You can benefit from wearing compression socks on a daily basis, especially if you find yourself traveling a lot or if you are overweight. Most people think that compression socks are for your grandma, but they’re not. In fact, compression garments are appearing on runways in Europe and in professional sports. Many basketball and football players regularly wear compression leg and arm sleeves to step their game up, reduce recovery time and prevent injuries like shin splints.

Compression garments are available in a variety of colors and sizes including pantyhose, thigh highs and knee highs in four different compression levels. Usually, 15-20mmHg or 20-30mmHg of compression is best if you are pregnant. For mild to moderate swelling, try products that provide 15-20mmHg of compression. If you are full-figured, have moderate to severe varicose veins or want to prevent swelling and discomfort, wear products featuring 20-30mmHg of compression. If you have a hard time getting your stockings on or if you have a hard time bending at the waist, try using the Medi Assure Donning Butler. Check out the video on the product page to see just how easy it is. Another option is to use the CompressionAssist Donning Aide, a hypoallergenic skin lubricant that makes it easier to get your stockings on without ruining the fabric.

The bottom line is that there are tons of resources and products out there to help guide you through your pregnancy and keep you healthy. Compression socks help on a daily basis to keep you comfortable all day or night. The best part is that they are something you can wear any time to benefit the body. You will be amazed how great you look and feel after a long day on your feet without the pain and swelling. Try a pair today and see for yourself!

Are You At Risk For Varicose Veins?

Did you know that running and lifting weights can cause varicose veins? Things that you think are helping your body may not be benefiting it in the same way you would like.  It’s not just hereditary, things you do on a day to day basis can increase your chances of developing varicose and spider veins. Even standing for long periods of time can put you at risk.

Generally, varicose veins is most common in older people and pregnant women, and usually occur in the legs and thighs. Your family history, age, lifestyle and hormones can all play a factor in developing varicose veins. Obesity can also increase your risk. Additionally, women are more likely to develop this condition than men. Although in most cases this is not a life-threatening condition, it can still cause pain and discomfort, or turn into something more serious.

About Varicose Veins

First things first-what exactly are varicose veins? This condition develops when your blood is not circulating properly. In your veins, there are one-way valves that pump blood to your heart. When these valves become too damaged or weak to stop blood from flowing in the wrong direction, the blood remains in the vein, causing the veins to swell and twist near the surface of the skin. Both spider veins and varicose veins look somewhat similar in appearance, but the main difference is that spider veins do not usually cause pain or discomfort. Varicose veins can also be caused by inflammation in your veins and from blood clots.

Symptoms include burning, itching, aching, cramping, tiredness and swelling. They can cause blood clots and skin ulcers as well. If it gets worse, the skin may become inflamed and change color. Veins can appear blue and look like they’re going to pop out of your skin. Varicose veins can evolve into a more serious condition called chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). This can cause symptoms to intensify. According to the ACP Vein Center, 30-50% of adults are at risk of developing CVI. If a blood clot forms and blockage occurs, this can lead to deep vein thrombosis (DVT). With all of that being said, you’re ready to hear about some preventative solutions right??

Prevention

To help prevent developing varicose veins, you want to improve circulation in the body. To do so, you want to focus on your calves. They pump blood from your legs back up to your heart, so you want to strengthen these muscles as much as possible. One easy way to improve circulation is by wearing compression socks. The graduated compression helps to reduce swelling and muscle fatigue to keep your legs energized and ache-free all day. You can find thigh highs, pantyhose and knee highs that all fight varicose veins in a variety of colors, fabrics, styles and compression levels. Not sure what level of compression you should use? Check out our Buyers Guide for more information.

Generally, 15-20mmHg is a good compression level for both the occasional and everyday wearer. Compression garments do more than improve circulation. They are great to wear traveling, to work, or when you are sitting or standing for long periods of time. Compression socks can also help athletes enhance performance, speed up recovery time and help to prevent injuries such as shin splints. It’s amazing how good your legs feel when you wear compression pantyhose or socks all day.

Listed below are some compression stockings that help with varicose veins. There are knee high, thigh high and pantyhose styles available by many different brands. Prices can vary anywhere from $12 to $60 or more depending on what compression level you need, the type of fabric and style you prefer. Sockwell has great products if you’re looking for something with style. Try our house brand, Allegro, if you are looking for a more affordable solution. Juzo compression stockings are perfect if you want something that is really comfortable. Wear Sigvaris or Jobst if you appreciate luxurious fabrics and a stylish look. Mediven offers a variety of products in many different styles, fabrics and compression levels for a great price.

For minor varicose veins, try a compression garment that provides 15-20mmHg of gradient compression. This level is perfect for traveling and relieves minor swelling, spider veins and helps to prevent deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

The Sockwell Men’s Circulator Stripe 15-20mmHg

Juzo Attractive Sheer Thigh Highs 15-20mmHg

Sigvaris Soft Opaque Pantyhose 15-20mmHg

Use a compression garment that provides firm 20-30mmHg of gradient compression for moderate varicose veins. Wear this compression level to treat mild to moderate swelling, DVT and post-schlerotherapy.

Juzo Basic Ribbed Sock 20-30mmHg

Jobst Opaque Thigh Highs 20-30mmHg

Allegro Sheer Support Pantyhose 20-30mmHg

Wear compression stockings that provide 30-40mmHg of gradient compression under a doctor’s super vision. This compression level is best to wear during healing after surgical or sclerotherapy procedures to reduce swelling and chronic venous insufficiency.

Jobst Relief Knee Highs 30-40mmHg

Medi Assure Thigh high 30-40mmHg

Allegro Surgical Pantyhose 30-40mmHg

When you sit or stand for long periods of time, wearing compression socks improve blood flow. When you are sitting down, it’s harder for your veins to get the blood back up to your heart. Compression socks squeeze the leg to reduce how much pressure and blood is in your veins and helps to regulate and maintain a healthy blood flow. By improving circulation, recovery time for tired, achy legs decreases. It is also important to keep your legs flat on the floor instead of crossing them when you sit. Making sure you get up and walk around every half hour to an hour when you are sitting for a long time can also help.

Walking is a great exercise to keep your legs happy and healthy. You want to find activities that stretch the muscle and also strengthen it without going overboard. This is why running and lifting weights can cause so much damage to your body. Lifting weights and doing activities like Pilates and Yoga can strain your abdomen which results in less blood being able to reach the heart. Light, moderate exercise can help prevent varicose veins from getting worse. It is important to keep your body health and in the best shape possible. Losing weight and wearing loose clothing can also help prevent varicose veins from worsening.

Treatment

There are a couple of procedures to treat varicose veins. One option is to undergo sclerotherapy, which is where a solution is injected into your veins, which prevents blood from filling them. The veins are eventually absorbed by the body and fade as time passes. However, this isn’t for everyone. Pregnant women cannot use this treatment. People who have a history of blood clots may not be eligible either. Other treatments include vein stripping, where an incision is made to remove the vein, and may result in scarring, or a similar operation called ambulatory phlebectomy that results in minimal scarring. It is really important to wear compression socks after this procedure to reduce the pain. Another option is laser treatment. In this procedure, a tiny fiber is put in the vein that sends out laser energy to kill the part of the vein that is diseased. Read more about treatments at the Society for Vascular Surgery website.

Resources on Varicose Veins

Why Be Concerned About Varicose Veins? – Johns Hopkins

Frequently Asked Questions – Venefit

What Are Varicose Veins? – National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute

Truths and Myths about Varicose Veins – Venefit

Difference between spider and varicose veins – American Academy of Dermatology

What you should know about varicose veins – American Society for Dermatologic Surgery

Treatment Resources

Varicose vein treatment – Radiologyinfo.org

Hear what people have to say about sclerotherapy – Realself.com

Varicose veins and exercise – La Jolla Light

Treatment Resources – Baptist Health Systems

Forums and Blogs

Varicose veins forum – American Venous Forum

Should I stop lifting due to varicose veins? – Bodybuilding Forum

Varicose veins and dieting obstacles forum

Varicose Vein Forum – Patient.co.uk

Varicose Vein Blogs – Smart Living Network

Community Forum – MedHelp.org

Support Groups

Varicose veins support group – DailyStrength.org

Varicose veins information and support group – Varistop.com

Q&A, blog and support group – Drugs.com

Varicose veins discussions and support group – People Helping People