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The Cornish Method to Reduce Swelling in Your Legs

This article is a transcribed edited summary of a video Bob and Brad recorded in November of 2021. For the original video go to

Bob: Today we are going to talk about the Cornish Method to reduce swelling in your legs.

Brad: Like a Cornish hen?

Bob: No, this is Dr. Cornish. So, I was contacted by Kurtis Cornish, PhD. He was a cardiovascular physiologist and professor at the University of Nebraska.

Brad: You can’t go wrong in Nebraska. They have a lot of corn there.

Bob: Yeah, Omaha.

Brad: It’s kind of interesting, there’s a lot of corn there and his name is Cornish. Take the I-S-H off, that’s probably how he got there.

Bob: Yeah, sure. Alright, so he had an anterior hip replacement. He had trouble with swelling in his upper thigh to his knee. Very common. He tried ice and it did nothing. And I agree with this 100%.

Brad: Yeah, for edema, I don’t think it’s going to hurt anything.

Bob: Well, I think it’ll stop it from getting worse. It constricts your arteries and veins and lymphatics. So, it stops it from getting worse, but it does nothing to remove the fluid. So, with him being a smart guy and knowing what he’s doing, he had an inversion table, I believe. He set it up for 15 degrees. Let me warn you right away, though. I don’t want you doing any of these methods unless you check with your doctor first. There are some people who should not be doing the inversion and we don’t want you to blame us.

Brad: Well, we don’t want you to get hurt. And we’re only going 15 degrees. It’s not very much but still, if you’ve got some cardiac problems or some other issues.

Bob: Right, you could flood your system.

Brad: Yeah, it could be a problem.

Bob: He only went 15 degrees though, which was not pressure on his hip either. He was able to tolerate that very well. Brad, why don’t you get into the device right now. We have a Teeter table here. Isn’t that what it’s called?

Brad: Yeah, Teeter. Actually, that’s the name of the guy who invented it. He didn’t invent the inversion table, but he produces these.

Bob: I find that amazing that a guy named Teeter invented like a teeter-totter.

Brad: Yeah, and that’s kind of like what this is. It was meant to be.

Bob: So, Brad has locked his legs in place. And now what do you do Brad?

Brad: Okay, once you set this up, we’re not going to go through how to set it up. I’ve already adjusted the adjustments here, and once you get it set up you should be able to go back very controllably. Just by changing my hands like this to here, I can change whether or not I want to go up to this position.

Bob: Yeah, and he’s got a strap underneath the device here. It’s set at 15 degrees. So, you can see 15 degrees is not very far. So, what Dr. Cornish did was some muscle contraction, but he got bored with that, so he stopped. He lied there for 30 minutes and after 30 minutes, the edema had gone down an inch.

Brad: Just from gravity?

Bob: Right, just from gravity. So, you know, you can get a table for not that much of an amount. If you’re having trouble with your back and you want to try this for that too. I’m definitely going to be an advocate of this. I don’t know if I’d get this just for edema after a surgery.

Brad: No, because you could raise the foot of your bed up and get those 15 degrees, which isn’t a lot. But you’re not going to sleep like that all night long.

Bob: So, options! Can you put your legs up on pillows? The problem with that is the lymphedema, the edema has to travel from the leg go all the way up to the chest where it actually goes into the venous system, it goes into the thoracic venous system. It gets caught if your legs are bent.

Brad: Yeah, if you just put the pillows underneath your legs, your hips will flex. It creates a dam, so to speak, right in your lymph node area in the femoral crease.

Bob: It can stop the edema from travelling all the way up. You could raise the foot of your bed up, put some blocks underneath it. Or you were talking about sine and cosine, don’t know what you’re talking about, but as far as formula for how far you’d put it.

Brad: I’m sure you could google it. I would say raise the end. I should’ve figured this out before the video. Probably 6 inches would be enough.

Bob: And again, I wouldn’t go past 30 minutes. It’d be a little bit of a hassle.

Brad: Yes, you have to set your timer or alarm because if you fall asleep and are there for a couple hours, that’s not desirable. You want to stick to 30 minutes.

Bob: Now, if you have complications from chronic edema, this may be something you want to consider. I’m going to read some of the complications of chronic edema, Brad.

Brad: Okay.

Bob: There’s painful swelling, difficulty walking, stiffness, stretched skin, which can become itchy and uncomfortable. I’ve seen the skin break down, haven’t you?

Brad: Yeah, or actually weep.

Bob: Yeah, actually your clothes can become all wet.

Brad: Yeah, you really have to have a doctor along with you on that.

Bob: Scarring between the layers of tissues, decreased blood circulation. He was talking about compartment syndrome. Especially in the lower compartments in your calves. Decreased elasticity of the arteries, veins, joints, and muscles and increased risk of skin ulcers. That’s what you’re talking about. Again, I don’t know if I’d get a table just for after surgery, for an issue like that. But if you have chronic edema, this might be the answer for you. Plus, you can stretch out you’re back a little bit too.

Brad: Yeah, I can feel it now. We do have some videos on how to use an inversion table for back pain. Typically, you’d go more than 15 degrees for your back.

Bob: Some people go all the way, which I wouldn’t recommend.

Brad: I don’t recommend it either, but I know they do it.

Bob: Brad did this. He used this table for years, right?

Brad: I had it for about a year and a half, two years and it helped initially. Then I wasn’t getting relief. You know, I have spondylolisthesis. Whatever. You’re only going to do this if it feels good. If you have eye problems, you have to be careful because it increases pressure in your eyes and that’s something you need to talk to your doctor about first. Most people, if you’re a healthy person in general, you don’t have a heart problem or any eye problems, you’re probably fine doing it. But don’t invert all the way right away for sure. You really have to work into it slowly.

Bob: So, this is an example, again, Brad, where I think it’s really cool where our audience jumped in and participated and gave us some helpful information that we never would’ve found out on our own.

Brad: This is one of those things that obviously done by PhD’s, very familiar.

Bob: He taught lymphedema.

Brad: Right, that was his subject, so this is not out there, I think. It probably will be.

Bob: The Cornish Method. We started it right here.

Brad: Thank you Dr. Cornish.

Bob: Thanks for watching. Yup, thank you Dr. Cornish.

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