I’ve just had surgery to my breast following a cancer diagnosis. What kind of exercises can I do?
– Reply from Annie Girouard, CICM-RCM physiotherapist at Centre intégré de cancérologie de la Montérégie.
Unless your doctor advises against it, on the day after surgery, you should use the arm on the side of the operation as you would normally do, and at your own pace, while taking into account any pain or pulling sensations. For instance, it is recommended to resume daily activities such as getting dressed and eating. Why not try using the arm on the side of the operation to brush your hair, brush your teeth or wash your face?
Day 1 to 6 After Surgery
Certain exercises are recommended for the week following your operation (or until your drain is removed). It is best to begin these exercises gradually, and it’s especially important not to strain yourself.
Your arms may be sore, especially during the first two days. Do the exercises while the painkillers are working to bring relief. It is recommended to do three sets, twice a day. You can increase gradually until you reach ten sets, twice a day.
One Week After Surgery
After the first week, you can start adding new exercises. You will find these additional exercises helpful for up to two to three months after the operation, or until the arm on the side of the operation regains the same mobility as the other.
A stretch is effective only if you hold it for 15 to 20 seconds without rebounding after completing the stretch. It is also recommended to do ten sets of these exercises, twice a day.
This exercise program will help restore mobility and improve the flexibility in your arm and shoulder. You can thus reduce the risk of lymphedema and prevent the formation of capsulitis in your shoulder (inflammation of the joint capsule, a solid fibrous membrane surrounding the shoulder bone). Being physically active will help you feel better!