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Stretches and Exercises After Mastectomy

Mastectomy is a life-saving procedure to treat or prevent breast cancer. There are many important components to heal from a mastectomy including, bedrest, healthy food, water, sleep, medication, and exercise.
If you are recovering from a mastectomy, exercise is a major part of the healing process. Stretches and exercise can restore flexibility, prevent blood clots from forming, and keep your digestion and elimination systems working efficiently.
Your doctor will tell you when you can begin to stretch and exercise. Depending on your mastectomy, this can be from 2 - 3 days or 1 - 2 weeks after surgery. Your doctor can prescribe movements that you can do while you are in bed and others while you sit, stand, or walk.
Here are a few of the many stretches and exercises that your doctor may prescribe after a mastectomy.
Walk for Strength
When your doctor feels you are ready, he or she can ask you to get up and walk, even while you are still in the hospital. Start slowly and walk a little farther each day, even if it is only a few more steps.
Walking will build up your strength and get your circulation going. Breathe regularly and deeply as you walk but do not get out of breath. If you find yourself struggling for breath, stop and rest.
Whenever you walk, it is important to wear proper athletic shoes with non-slip soles for stability and balance.
Stretch and Exercise for Flexibility and Healing
Your doctor can prescribe chest, shoulder, arm, and back movements to do while you heal. He or she will design and customize these movements for your specific body and mastectomy.
Here are some gentle stretches and exercises that you can do while you sit, stand, or walk. They can counteract the stiffness that you feel from your mastectomy incisions and prevent scar tissue from forming.
Shoulder Shrug
While you keep your back straight and your head facing forward, lift your shoulders towards your ears and then relax them. Hold each shrug for 3 - 5 seconds and repeat 5 - 7 times.
Shoulder Roll
Bring your shoulders forward and roll them from front to back, lifting them as you roll. Next, bring your shoulders backward and roll them from back to front, lifting as you roll. Repeat these rolls 5 - 7 times in each direction.
Should Blade Squeeze
Sit on the edge of a chair with your back straight and your feet together. Place your arms at your sides with your elbows slightly bent. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and do not lift your shoulders. Hold this squeeze for 3 - 5 seconds. Repeat 5 - 7 times.
Chest Wall Stretch
While standing, face the corner of a room with your feet about 8 - 10 inches from the corner. Bend your elbows and place your forearms on the walls, at shoulder height. While keeping your arms and feet in place, gently move your chest toward the corner. Repeat 5 - 7 times.
Exercise Throughout the Day for Endurance
There are many more movements that your doctor may prescribe for you. It is important to do your stretches and exercises often during each day of your recovery.
With your doctor's approval, you can spread your movements out to do them 3 - 4 times each day or once every hour or two. In that way, you will build up your stamina and strength quickly and speed up your healing.
Whenever you exercise after a mastectomy, wear loose clothing and flexible undergarments to allow for ease of movement. Wear fabrics that breathe and keep you cool so that you do not build up perspiration.
To find post-mastectomy clothing, accessories, breast prosthetics, and custom breast forms, contact The Next Step boutique. We have everything you need for all stages of your recovery.