Exercise After Breast Cancer?

Exercise After Breast Cancer?


Breast cancer affects 1 in 8 women in the United States – that’s 12% of the female population. Because of advances in early detection more women are surviving breast cancer than ever before. Many women wonder if, after surviving cancer, they can resume their normal activities and exercise. The answer largely depends on your cancer treatment. Breast biopsy, lymph node removal, mastectomies, breast reconstruction, and radiation therapy can cause weakened shoulder and chest muscles, causing decreased movement of the shoulder joint, and loss of muscle contraction.

Cancer.org recommends the following exercises post cancer treatment, to strengthen your muscles and improve your range of movement.

Increases the ability to move the shoulders forward.
Equipment: A yard stick or dowel, etc.

• Hold the dowel, palms up, over your stomach

• Guide the wand up toward your head with straight arms until the treated arm feels a stretch, and hold for 5-10 seconds. Lower and repeat 5-7 times.


Elbow wings
Increases chest and shoulder mobility.

• With your hands together behind your head at the base of your skull, point your elbows toward the ceiling. Bring your elbows apart, down towards the floor. Repeat 5-7 times.


Shoulder blade stretch
Increases shoulder blade mobility.

• With your back against a chair, sit closely to a table

Put your untreated arm on the table with a bent elbow and your palm facing down (stabilize this arm during the exercise, there should be no movement)

• Place your treated arm palm down, with your elbow straight on the table.

• Without moving your trunk, slide the affected arm forward, toward the opposite side of the table. You should feel your shoulder blade move as you do this.

• Relax your arm and repeat 5 to 7 times.


Remember that whenever you start a new fitness program you should get clearance from your physician. It can also be helpful, after illness, to set up an appointment with a physical therapist or exercise specialist to learn new exercises and make sure you perform your exercises properly.

For more exercises visit:  www.cancer.org/cancer/breastcancer/moreinformation/exercises-after-breast-surgery


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Valley Medical Center's Marketing and Community Outreach Office