Top 10 Steps to Exercise Safely after Breast Cancer Surgery
Cancer Society recommends exercise after breast
cancer surgery, no matter what
type of surgery you had, as well as exercise after
The benefits of weight
lifting for survivors
was studied in the Physical Activity & Lymphedema (PAL) trial, which
showed that starting very light and progressively lifting heavier
weights might be better than not exercising an arm at risk for
lymphedema after breast cancer.
Here are top 10 the steps to take to make sure you exercise safely:
Get the OK from your primary care physician and surgeon. Discuss with
both your primary care doctor and your surgeon the exercises you plan to do. Ask
them if there are any movements you should avoid or if you should limit the
range of motion they involve. Discuss any medicines youíre taking and how they
may affect your ability to exercise. Also discuss any other medical conditions
you have (asthma or osteoporosis,
for example) and how they may affect your ability to exercise.
Take any precautions that are necessary. If youíve been diagnosed with
lymphedema or are very worried about it, talk to a lymphedema specialist about
precautions that might be right for you. If youíve been diagnosed, these
precautions may include wearing a well-fitted compression garment or possibly
wearing protective gloves. If something doesnít feel right, stop immediately and
talk to your doctor or lymphedema specialist.
Do your warm-ups. Before you do any type of exercise, make sure you warm
up by walking for 5 to 10 minutes or taking a shower to warm up your muscles. A
program -- stretching all major muscle groups -- should be part of the
Make slow and steady progress. Expect to improve gradually. Every person
is unique, every breast cancer is unique, and every treatment plan is unique.
Donít compare your progress to anyone elseís or to yourself before breast
cancer. Give yourself the time you need to recover and get strong, flexible, and
Take a deep breath: Regulating the breathing process helps ensure full
nourishment from the breath and opens a channel to a state of peace. Breathing is
very important. Many breast cancer survivors become very rounded and hunched
over, very chest-protective. Breathing really helps to open up the chest. It
helps to relieve some of the tension, which is physical, but also emotional.
Focus on form. Perfect form is better than holding a stretch longer or
doing more reps of an exercise. Make sure your form is excellent, even if it
means doing less. In other words, if a stretch calls for holding the position
for 30 seconds and you can only hold it for 15 seconds unless you do something
youíre not supposed to do (bend your knees or arm, for example), itís better to
hold the stretch for only 15 seconds with perfect form rather than 30 seconds
with bad form.
Stop if you feel pain. Check your form or make your movements smaller so
you feel no pain.
If it still hurts, talk to your doctor, physical therapist, or certified
personal trainer about modifications.
Rest as needed. If youíre sick with a cold or infection or feel
especially tired, take a day off.
Do your cool-downs. After each exercise session, cool down by walking for
5 or 10 minutes and stretching all
the major muscle groups.
Tell your instructor youíre a survivor. If you take a yoga, aerobics,
or other exercise class, be sure to talk to the instructor before class and
explain that youíre a breast cancer survivor. Tell the instructor what you can
and canít do and ask for modifications for any movements you canít do. Do the
same thing if you work out with a certified personal trainer. Let her or him
know that youíve been treated for breast cancer so the exercises can be scaled
Dated 03 October 2013