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Breast Cancer Surgery – Arm and Shoulder Exercises – Strengthening Exercises

This video is to complement the Your Journey through Breast Cancer Surgery booklet. You

should have received this booklet from your healthcare team. If you have not received

a booklet please contact your healthcare team. Exercise after breast cancer surgery is an

important part of your treatment and recovery. Exercise can help you reduce joint stiffness,

move your arm and shoulder more easily, strengthen muscles, and get back to normal daily activity.

It’s important to know what you were able to do before surgery (called your baseline

movement) so you can track your recovery. To know your baseline, try these exercises

before you have surgery. You should avoid vigorous exercise and sports

in the early weeks after surgery, but it is important to stay active. Talk to your surgeon

about how much activity is right for you now, and when you can return to your previous exercise

and sports. Work towards 30 min of activity most days. You may find that light housework

is a helpful way to get gentle exercise. Ask your surgeon when you can lift more than 4.6

kg or 10 pounds. These exercises are for all types of breast

surgery except breast reconstruction. If you have had breast reconstruction, speak to your

surgeon about what exercises you should do. These exercises are for patients with or without

a drain. These exercise instructions refer to your

affected side (the same side of your body as your surgery and your unaffected side (the

side of the body that didn’t have surgery). Do the exercises on both sides of the body

if you’ve had surgery on both sides. If you have any concerns about how well you can

move (your level of mobility) or strength, talk to a physiotherapist.

Strengthening Exercises Strengthening exercises will make your shoulder

muscles stronger. Start these exercises when the arm on your affected side moves almost

as well as it did before you had breast surgery. You will need a light weight, about 0.5 to

1 kg (1 to 2 lb.) and an elastic exercise band. If you don’t have any weights, you

can use soup cans or another light object that you can easily hold in your hand. If

you don’t have an elastic exercise band, you can do the third exercise with weights

or soup cans. Do the exercises 3 times each week, taking

a rest day in between the days you exercise. Repeat each exercise 10 times and slowly work

up to 2 sets of 10 times with a rest in between each set (that’s 20 times in total). It’s

normal for your muscles to feel tired after doing these exercises. But if you feel pinching

or shooting pain in the neck, shoulder, or arm, stop the exercise and talk to your healthcare

team. Chest Press

Lie on your back with a weight in each hand and your arms out to your sides. With your

elbows bent push your arms up towards the ceiling directly over your chest. Hold this

position for 5 seconds, and then relax and return to the starting position. Repeat 10

times. Wall Push-Ups

Begin doing this exercise at a distance of ½ of your arm’s length from the wall. Stand

and place your hands on the wall below shoulder height. Bend your arms and slowly lean your

upper body forward towards the wall. Straighten your arms, keep your trunk straight, push

your upper body back to the starting position, and repeat 10 times. Tighten your stomach

muscles by pulling your belly button in. Once it’s comfortable to do this exercise, you

can do this exercise farther away from the wall. But make sure you are no more than the

length of your shoulder to your fingertip away from the wall.

Horizontal Abduction with Elastic Exercise Band

Tie an elastic exercise band at waist level to a firmly planted object in front of you,

such as a post in your basement or the leg of a heavy table. If you’re using a table

leg, tie it near the top of the leg where it joins the table, not the bottom. Use an

elastic exercise band length that is about ¾ of a metre. Take one end of the elastic

exercise band in each hand. Pull the elastic exercise band back by bringing your shoulder

blades together and reaching your arms out to the sides. Make sure to bend your elbows

slightly and keep your shoulders down and back towards your spine. Repeat 10 times

(show an example using soup cans or weights as modification too)

Resisted Shoulder Scaption Stand with your arms at your side, your thumbs

facing up and your shoulders back and down. Keep your hands and arms slightly in front

of your body. Lift your arms out to the side until they’re at the height of your shoulders.

Slowly return to your starting position and repeat 10 times. You shouldn’t feel pinching

in your shoulders. When you’re comfortable doing this exercise, add a weight in each

hand. Shoulder Flexion with Weight

Stand or sit straight with your arms at your side, chin tucked, and a weight in the hand

of your affected side. Pull your shoulder back on your affected side and lift your arm

in front of you as high as you can. Slowly return to your starting position and repeat

10 times. Elbow Flexion

Stand with your arms at your side and a weight in the hand of your affected side. Face your

palm inward towards your side. Bend your elbow and turn your palm upward and towards your

shoulder. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat 10 times.

Elbow Extension Lie on your back with a weight in the hand

of your affected side. Hold your affected elbow with your unaffected hand and lift your

arm so that your elbow is pointing to the ceiling. Raise and straighten your elbow so

that your hand is over your shoulder. Slowly bend your elbow and lower your hand towards

the side of your head. Return to the starting position and Repeat 10 times.