Breast Cancer Surgery – Arm and Shoulder Exercises – Strengthening Exercises

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.