Arm and shoulder pain are common for women after breast cancer surgery, but exercising soon afterward can go a long way to easing the discomfort, new research suggests.
Restricted shoulder movement and chronic pain or swelling in the armpit area can really impact a patient’s recovery and quality of life.
However, “we found robust evidence that early, structured, progressive exercise is safe and clinically effective for women at higher risk of developing shoulder and upper limb problems after non-reconstructive breast surgery,” the team led by Julie Bruce shares.
“Exercise is a valid rehabilitative measure, as well as a safe and effective tool to empower cancer patients to thrive in their recovery,” Dr. Paul Baron, chief of breast surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City adds.
Here are 7 exercises to try after having breast cancer surgery:
1. Wand exercise
This exercise will increase your ability to move your shoulders forward.
Equipment: For this exercise, you’ll need a broom handle, yardstick, or another stick-like object to use as the wand.
- Lie on your back (on the floor or bed) with your knees bent and your feet flat.
- Hold the wand across your belly in both hands with your palms facing up.
- Lift the wand up over your head as far as you can. Use your unaffected arm to help lift the wand until you feel a stretch in your affected arm.
- Hold for 5 seconds.
- Lower arms and repeat 5 to 7 times.
2. Elbow winging
This exercise will help increase the movement in the front of your chest and shoulder. You should do this exercise on the bed or floor, but keep in mind that it may take several weeks of regular exercise before your elbows are able to get close to the bed or floor.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat.
- Clasp your hands behind your neck with your elbows pointing toward the ceiling.
- Move your elbows apart and down toward the bed or floor.
- Repeat 5 to 7 times.
3. Shoulder blade stretch
As made obvious with the name, this exercise will help increase