Class #3034

Breast Cancer Recovery

25 min - Class


Improve your range of motion after breast surgery with the exercises in this class by Adrianne Crawford. She uses gentle movements to help improve shoulder function and mobility and to increase circulation. Working on these after surgery will help to enhance your quality of life.

Adrianne starts with a brief overview of what these exercises will do and when you should incorporate them into your routine. The movement portion of this class begins at about 4:00.
What You'll Need: Mat, Wall, Table Chair, Towel, Pilates Pole


Read Full Transcript

Okay, so hi, my name's Adrian and I am here to teach them exercises after breast surgery. Exercises such as these have been shown to improve shoulder mobility, mobility and function, increased circulation and enhance quality of life once cleared by your physicians. They should be done two to three times a day and no longer than 20 minutes. These exercises are designed so that you can start them lying down, move to sitting, or eventually do them standing up. Tightness in your chest or armpit after surgery is normal and will decrease as you do your exercises. You may even feel burning, tingling, numbness or soreness on the back of the arm or chest wall due to surgery in the nerves involved.

Although the American Cancer Society of 2017 recommends continuing your exercises through these issues, they also recommend listening to your body and resting when fatigued. Additionally, it is recommended to report to your physician and stopping if there is any unusual swelling or tenderness. So now I'd like to introduce my lovely client who's going to be demonstrating some of these exercises and then we'll talk a little bit more. And she comes over the Susanna deal and she is a cancer survivor. She had a mastectomy with reconstruction and she's here today to demonstrate some exercises for the props. You're going to need somewhere to lie down.

That's soft. You'll want a couple of pillows. And also, and these of course are not [inaudible] their towels, but you can still use towels for demonstration purposes. That's what I'm going to be using. Anything that we're going to do to elevate your arms today and also a pole or some kind of instrument that you can hold up and that is light. Okay, so that being said, I'm going to have you lie down.

We're also going to be using a chair today, but for her, she's going to sit up at the edge of this mat. But for right now I'm going to have you lie down on your back. So I'll have you come to the front and I'm going to have your head right here and you lie all the way down on your back. Her feet are going to be hit with the part with her knees bent, her hands or her side employees. We work within our own frame. So the idea is to work between your shoulders, shoulder to shoulder, shoulder to hip, hip to hip.

So we're talking about your alignment here and that's really important when doing any sort of exercises just to always double check where you are and how you're spaced in your own body. So right now she's lying very nicely and the idea here to also, especially after such surgery is to just try to get some more mobility going in the chest. So right now I have heard a sheriffs shoulders are shoulder to shoulder, her neck is long. I want to give her some pillows and the I, the other thing I wanted to mention is that I'm going to have you lift your head up and put your head under and rest your head so that her head is slightly above her heart is after such surgery there's going to be some swelling and so we want to keep that swelling to a minimum. So I'm going to have her put her arms. Either you can put your arm on a pillow or as for today's purposes on a towel. Okay?

And we want to just keep the arms a little bit above the heart and that'll keep that lymphatic drainage going. Okay? She's smiling. That's a good start. Okay, so I'm going to begin some exercises and this, the idea here is this is literally three to seven days after surgery. These are can be approved. They, that's on the condition that your doctor's approved it and that your drains and stitches have been removed. Okay? We're going to have you lie down. You'll lie for about 45 minutes. We're not literally going to do 45 minutes, but usually we'll have you lie down two to three times a day and just kind of let your arms relax and then you're going to just start to do some fist clenches. And that's just to start to get that circulation moving.

Good. And in Claudia is we don't do more than 10 repetitions usually of anything. And then you'll relax and you always want to listen to your body for when you get fatigue, to listen to that and to relax. You're going to clench your fist again and we're going to add a step, turn your arms slightly and lift your elbows, bend them towards you and then slowly lower them back down. And Yeah, I'm going to ask her how she's feeling. How are these feeling? Yeah.

Okay, very good. And she's going to do about three to five of these. We're just getting all of that movement going through her arms, through her shoulders and her chest and you losing your Pelo there and rest. So that's what I would have somebody to right after surgery. And it's really important that after surgery you do keep moving with your daily activities such as brushing your hair, your teeth, and of course sometimes the dishes. Okay, anything to get those arms moving, but as long as the, we don't want you doing any heavy lifting, anything over five pounds and always, always check with your doctor first. Okay.

I'm going to now moving on to when you've gotten a little further down your recovery stage and you've gotten that clearance once again from your physician. You are now going to stay where you are, but I'm going to remove these pretend pillows. Your arms are still at your side and I'm going to hand her a bar so I'm going to have you reach for that bar a lot of the times right after surgery and for a long time afterwards you are going to be very tight. Your shoulders will get tighter, the less mobility you'll have. So the, we want to keep you moving so I'm going to have you reach your arms forward and slightly bring them up. I want you to bring them no more than 90 degrees, but just where you feel like you've got some range going. Very good. So we're getting those shoulders to lift. Stop there.

Keep your chest broad, shoulders down so you don't want their shoulders to lift. You want to try to open that chest, take a nice deep breath in and lower your arms back down to your hips and exhale all the way down to your side. And once you're down, I want you to pause. You're holding that bar lightly and just let your arms relax and think of rolling those shoulders a little bit further back. And just try to hold that for about three counts. One, two, three and then you relax and then she's going to do that maybe two more times with their arms out long.

And then her arms will lift up and she can take a nice deep breath in. And as you're breathing, you want to inflate your lungs, let your chest expand, don't go more than 90 degrees and then you're going to exhale. Let your chest drop, let your abdominal sink down in your belly button. Pull up all the way down, let your arms rest, let your shoulders relax. And then I'll have you roll the shoulders back a little bit further and hold for three counts, two, three and then relax. And again, you would only do maybe three to five of these. So we'll do one more.

Make it a total of three. So arms come back up, lift the arms to your shoulder height. Take a nice inhale. As you exhale, the arms come down and you're once again pulling that navel in and up. She is going to stop there, let everything relax and then I'll have a roll those shoulders back and just hold that position for three counts to three and rest. Now with that same bar, but before we start, I want to have, I want to take the bar for a moment, let you rest. We're going to do just a little breathing movement.

So here's what is really also important because the scar tissue will start to build and it gets harder to expand the lungs. So with that being said, I'd like you to take a nice deep breath in and let your chest expand. Feel your rib cage lifting and then exhale, let all of that air ring out of your lungs and try to sink your back deeper into that mat or the bed that you might be lying on. And then continue breathing and relax. And then in flight in chest, you're going to take a nice deep breath. And again, let the shoulders soften and try to roll them back a bit more. And then exhale up that room.

You back down and feel your spine sinking a little bit into that Mat and think about getting longer through your spine so your neck is extending out. Do that Walmart time where you're taking a nice deep breath in. Let your chest rise, let the ribs lift and then exhale. Bring everything back down, letting the chest open a little bit more as you come down, just is broad and then you'll relax. I w how are you doing? Okay.

Do you think that these are something that you could do at home? Sure. Okay, I'm going to hand you the poll once again. So have you reached for that poll and you're going to take your arms back up to that level that was comfortable for you and for everybody. It's going to be a little bit different, especially if you've just recently had surgery. Take your arms up. Very good. Add hold. You're gonna take no, this one's a little bit more complicated but not too complicated. Let's actually bring you down just a little bit lower, so not quite shoulder height, maybe just below your chest line and hold that.

You're going to take one hand underneath the bar. The other hand is on top of the bar and this is a shoulder rotation exercise. So what she's gonna do is take the arms and slowly twist the bar towards your belly button, the top of the bar towards your nose, just to where you feel like you've got a stretch going in the shoulder. Now she's got a lot of mobility because she's post op quite a few days, actually a few years, and now she's going to come back to center. Does that feel good on your shoulders?

And so I would have you do that two to three times. And once you're there I want you to hold and try to roll the shoulders a little bit further back. So in other words, open your chest a little bit more. Very nice. And then come back to center. Add one more time. Arms twist shoulder. You'll feel stretch. This is good to get that mobility going.

Open the chest a little bit more broad so the shoulders don't roll forward and then come back to center and now she will switch her hand position. So one hand on top, one hand underneath and the opposite direction. Exactly. So she is demonstrating that she knows how to do these cause she just did it on the other side and then come back to center. You're holding that bar or your towel lightly.

So don't squeeze it to grip it too much. You want to keep your hands kind of soft and you always want to listen to your body and only go to as far as you feel as stretch. But it doesn't, it shouldn't feel painful and come back to center. And last one. So total of three times these still feeling good to you and come back to center. Bring both hands on top of the bar, take the arms up a little bit higher, take that nice deep breath in, and then bring your arms back down to your side or down to your hips.

And then you'll rest. And I'm going to actually take your bar away and place it down. Let's put your fingers next on your shoulders. This is another shoulder limbering exercise. And again, it's going to be hard for some and harder for others. So we want to go slow. Again, go to just to your range. You're gonna lift your shoulders up just as far as they'll go.

Now you might not get very far. Some of you might be able to go a little bit further. And then during that, all the way down. Good. Whenever you're moving, you want to always think of breathing. So expand your lungs, take a nice deep breath in.

Elbows can lift and others can lower. Very good. We're going to add a step. She's going to come up. She then a hold and then she's going to open the elbows to the side to where it's comfortable. Think of your shoulders pulling back in your chest, a little rising and elbows come in very good range. As you open your elbows, take that deep breath in. Good. And then exhale as they come back together.

One more time. All of these exercises can be built on another words. They can get bigger. As your rehabilitation continues, take both arms, reach them forward, stretch them out, lower them back down. Roll your circles. Three big circles. As big as your shoulders will allow you to go. And again, if it's painful, I want you to stop at rest. Okay, so next we're going to have her set up and show a few exercises sitting in a chair for demonstration purposes, because we don't have a chair.

She's going to sit right here on the mat. [inaudible] okay, so I'm getting rid of the province. I'm going to have you sit kind of forward of the chair. So if you are in a chair, you don't want to sit all the way against it. You want to actually lean a little bit forward from the chair.

And I am actually gonna use the bar still so we'll still have that bar. So I'm going to have you take that bar ever reach your arms forward now just like she did on the Mat, she can demonstrate here the exact same movement where you lifted the arms and lower them back down. So she's pretty much pretty high right now. So I'm going to have her arms come all the way back down to her knees. And when she does that, I want her to think of growing taller and her back. So lift your back and then relax. Good.

Now grow tall again by squeezing your seat. Take your arms back up. You want to think of sitting directly on top of your hips and leaning slightly forward of the hips. Now take the arms up towards your shoulder height and as you're recovering and recuperating, this ability will get more and more. You'll range will deepen and then come back down with the hands to your knees and then you'll rest Walmart time. The arms can lift. You're still breathing through these. Inhaling arms can come up, grow taller in your back. Exhale, arms can come down. Very good. So the next exercise, there's one more here that's says side bend.

You can either do it with the bar or you can hold your hands across your chest. So let's start with your hands crossed over your chest. You want to sit as tall as you can and this is to stretch the sides out. So she's just going to tick talk to the right. So sitting right on top of your hips, not letting the hips move, but you're going to lean to the right.

So bending to the right, take your ear towards your right shoulder, goes far as it's comfortable and pull in your waist. Now want you're there. You want to open the chest a little bit more by pulling those shoulders back so your chest is broad and as you come up you're going to pull in your waist and lift your side and tall in your back. I know she was going to go to the left over to the left, left ear towards your left shoulder and then she'll come back up and grow tall. And how are these feeling? Okay, you feeling like you're getting slight stretch through your sides.

Very Good Walmart time. So it's really important. But all of these little exercises you can pick and choose which exercises you want to do. They don't have to exactly be in this order, but it's just to kind of give you some ideas of things that you are, that's going to help your range of motion. And one more time to the left. Lift your waist left here towards your left shoulder and rise back up. Rest. And now we're going to move over to the wall. Okay, so I'm going to have her turn to face the wall. You can pick any wall and she's gonna stand about a foot away.

You can either have your feet together or apart. Good. And what you want to do is kind of get to a position where you're not actually leaning against the wall. So you might have to step a little bit closer. But your elbows are against the wall as well as your fingers. You're going to stay right where you are. The idea is to get that chest to kind of open and get some mobility in here and that armpit, region, axilla and the shoulders are down.

So what you're going to do is take your fingers and start to crawl up towards the wall, towards the ceiling and you're going to go to where it's comfortable for your range and where you feel a slight stretch. You might feel a slight pull and then you're going to stop when it gets to the point where you're feeling a little too much, which she's not, apparently that's good. Got a lot of range going and then she's gonna crawl back down. Very good. Now because she's doing exercises that are going higher than 90 degrees, you really want to be sure that you've gotten that clearance once again from your physician. And let's have you do that two more times.

So what I like to emphasize is that whole idea of your spine, you want to think of it being long, tall, your navel is pulling in and up and you've got to kind of wrap going what we call wrap going in your thighs to your seat so you're lifting your chest while you're moving the arms. Very Good Walmart time. You can do again anywhere three to five of these, getting the mobility going. I limbering those shoulders. Now if that has become fairly easy to, you're going to step backwards, put your fit in. So now you're about an arms length from the wall with your fingers against the wall. It's pretty much exactly what you just did.

Your fingers are going to be touching the wall. Let's this time have your heels together and toads apart and you're gonna now what we call spider crawl up the wall and you're going to start to walk towards the wall. You may not get very high, especially depending on how recent you've had your surgery and then you're going to walk back letting their shoulders drop and tell you get that arms length away. Once again. And one more time, it will crawl up. You're working on getting that progress going where the shoulders can get higher and higher. And that's a day to day process until you're almost against the wall. That's your goal. Very good, very, very nice. And see how nice and stretched out does that feel? Good, good.

And then you're gonna walk back down, fingers walk down. And so all of these exercises are exercises you can do at home and at your own pace. And let's go ahead and let your hands drop and then I'll have you turn around and put your back against the wall. This is where we're going to start to finish up. So now keeping your hips against the wall as well as your back.

You can walk your feet forward away from the wall, so you're kind of leaning or kind of propped up against the wall. Then you're going to take your arms and reach them once again up to shoulder height. Now if you've gotten to that point where you're actually able to lift the arms all the way up, go ahead and do that. Take a nice deep breath in. Grow Taller in your back and let the arms lower back down to the wall. Exhaling.

Think of your spine all the way down to your hips. Think of your spine lifting up against that wall as your arms moving. Now that you're there, try to roll those shoulders back and lift your chest. Good. So you do that one more time where the arms lift. So you'll show me arms can come up.

Lift your waist as well. Think of your NETHA lifting. Very good. Taking a nice inhale. Use The exhale to lower the arms back down. This time you're going to place your palms against the wall. Have you looked forward, and you're to pull your waste into the wall. And you're gonna try to roll those shoulders back.

So you've got in what we call a chest expansion going on. You're going to start to walk your feet backwards and rise up to your toes. So you walk back, your hands are against that wall and you're gonna rise up to your toes and put your heels against the wall. Now I want you to try to find the wall with your spine. So pull your navel into it.

Keep lengthening your neck and opening up the chest. You're going to take your palms, push into the wall and step away to a flat foot. So you stepped forward. And that concludes your exercises for today. And I hope that you can use this video for further rehabilitating.

Thank you.


Gila W
thank you very much for this class!
Could this series also be beneficial for folks recovering from other types of breast/chest/top surgery? 
Robyn B ~ Many of the exercises in this class can help with those types of surgeries. It is best to get advice from a doctor or physical therapist as everyone has a different experience with recovery. You might also find our Breast Cancer Recovery program beneficial as well. It also includes exercises that can help with these types of surgeries. Here is a link so you can take a look at it. 

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