After undergoing breast surgery, it is normal to feel stiffness or pain during movement of your arms and shoulders. It may be difficult to resume your daily activities like bathing and dressing. This happens after several types of surgery: breast biopsy, lymph node removal, lumpectomy, mastectomy, or reconstruction. However, there are things you can do to regain your range of motion and minimize pain. Exercises are perhaps the most important thing to do post-surgery to maintain flexibility and strength in your upper body. Before beginning an exercise regimen, please remember to consult your doctor, who will give you the go-ahead that you have recovered enough to begin exercising. They may also refer you to a physical therapist who can help create exercises that are right for you.
To make yourself the most comfortable before beginning any exercises, consider having a warm shower to relax your muscles. Remember to wear non-restrictive, loose clothing when doing the exercises. Do the exercises slowly, making sure not to make any quick, jerking movements, and hold the positions until you feel a light stretch.
In the first three to seven days after surgery, and with your doctor’s go-ahead, begin with some very light exercises. You just want to work on stretching and regaining motion, and draining lymph fluid from your affected arm. Try raising your elbow; bend and straighten several times. Next, raise your arms up to shoulder height (or as high as bearable) and lower them a few times. Repeat these exercises a couple of times per day.
Check out this website for some more simple post-breast surgery exercises you can do from home, complete with diagrams and instructions. Nightingale also offers products and support for your post-breast surgery needs, which you can find by clicking here.
Please remember to consult your doctor before starting an exercise routine after breast surgery, or if you notice any changes in your recovery.