Once your doctor has confirmed that your body can safely return to exercise, reintroducing your muscles to these short workouts could significantly impact your recovery. According to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), exercise after breast surgery is imperative for engaging movement and promoting blood flow. However, exercising with a healing chest and post-surgical drains can be complicated. In this blog, we’ll share our advice on how to exercise after breast surgery.
Exercise One: Shoulder Circles
If you are slowly reintroducing your body to exercise, shoulder circles are an excellent workout to start at the beginning and end of every day. This exercise does not cause excessive stress to your arms or chest area and can be practiced both standing or sitting. Although this exercise may seem simple, it successfully targets muscles in your arms, shoulders, and back to restimulate movement and blood flow.
Shoulder circle steps
- Straighten your back and tuck your chin toward your chest.
- Lift both shoulders together toward your ears, then roll them back toward your back muscles. Continue this motion in circular movements for ten sets.
- Roll your shoulders in the opposite direction for another ten sets.
Exercise Two: Extended Arm Stretches
Exercising with a drain still attached to your healing chest can be difficult. However, extended arm stretches are specifically designed to make exercising with these drains more successful and less strenuous. According to the MSKCC, this exercise can reduce swelling by improving circulation in your arms after surgery. Adding this exercise to your daily routine could help to reduce your pain with post-surgical drains while building back your strength.
Wearing proper fitness clothing will also help to support your body as you return to exercise. For example, post mastectomy compression bras are made of wire-free and antibacterial materials to keep your chest and drain comfortable while building back strength.
Extended arm stretch steps
- Lie on the opposite side of your surgical drain. Extend your bottom hand out and lay it flat against the floor and place a pillow on top of it.
- Place your other hand on top of the pillow and stretch it out until it is completely elongated.
- Bend your elbow inward while making a fist. Once your arm is bent at a 90-degree angle, elongate your arm again and relax your hand.
- Repeat this stretch at a comfortable pace for 20 sets.
Exercise Three: Wall Crawls
If you’re not sure how to exercise after breast surgery, wall crawls are a simple yet highly effective workout to add to your daily routine. Wall crawls are beneficial for stretching key muscles inside your arm and chest to increase blood flow. A higher and more regular amount of blood flow may help reduce the chances of blood clots during recovery.
Wall crawls steps
- Stand up straight and stand six inches away from a wall.
- Place your hands on the wall in front of you with your elbows slightly bent inwards.
- Slowly use your fingers to climb your hand up the wall.
- When you feel the tension in your muscles, stop and take a deep breath.
- Use your fingers to climb back down the wall.
- Repeat this exercise for ten sets.
Post-surgical workouts are a slow and steady work in progress. Remember to always consult with your doctor to confirm your body is ready to try these workouts before attempting them. Once your body is ready to build back strength, your recovery can continue moving forward.