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Friday, August 22, 2008 BARBIE, Community Member, asks

Q: what excercises to do after a mastectomy

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Answers (4)
Laurie Kingston, Health Guide
8/22/08 11:22am

As part of the prep for my surgery, I met with a physiotherapist who showed me some exercises (and gave me a handout). The exercises were progressive and started a day or two after surgery. And they really helped a lot.

They involved stretching and gradually moved to lifting soup cans over my head. I think this is the kind of thing that it really helps to be shown how to do. Ask someone in your doctor's office for advice - I am sure they will be able to point you in the right direction.

Getting into some gentle stretching as soon as you can after surgery is a really good idea, though.

Take good care-


stepaheda, Community Member
8/22/08 9:47am

I'm not an expert, but I did have a double mastectomy on 7/16/08. So I can only tell you have I've done, and it seem to be working because the doctor's can't beleive that I can already get my arms completly over my head. What I did every night while watching TV, I'd twist my hair over my head. It sounds strange, but it was a gentle movement, I started to notice that it helped with the tighten, and pain under my ribs. Now that it has been 4 weeks, I moved on to moving my arms in small circle one way then the other. Here is also that name of an exercise book just for recovery from Mastectomy surgery, "The Breast Cancer Survivor's Fitness Plan" by: Carolyn M. Daelin, M.D., from the experts at harvard Medical School. I find it to be very helpful, I hope it will be helpful to many of you to.


lia, Community Member
8/22/08 1:22pm

Hi Barbie.. first of all check to see if your surgeon has a physical therapist he or she works is covered under most insurance.  this is what i did. Start with very small wall climbing on each side .. walk up the wall with your fingers on both sides. and hold for 30 seconds.. move closer and closer until your face is up to the wall.. only go until you feel a nice stretch.. no pain..also if you lay on your back with arms out straight to your sides  (90 degree angle with underarm ) and bend knees up.. and then move kness to the side left and right.. will feel a pull on the side that gets tight.. try it ..remember no pain.. and not until your drains are out.. or ask...also not an expert..and I hope  I am explaining well enough.

Angi, Community Member
8/22/08 10:30pm

Hi Barbie

My doctor(s) told me after each of my mastecomies & reconstruction surgeries to do the hand crawling up the wall till your arm is straight - also to do a circle rotation with your hand on your shoulder, so your arm is bent.  Yoga bands are great for stretching and also for lymphedema.  I';ve also read that placing a nerf football under your arm and "pumping" or squeezing it is also very good for lymphedema.  I lift light weights (1-2 lbs) from the down to your waste to the position of your arms straight out (90 degree angle)

None should be used as muscle toning exercises, just more of a strengthening/stretching exercise.  Don't do them till you hurt or pull, otherwise you'll be sorry later!

but before you start you should wait a few weeks after surgery to heal then slowly work your way up making sure not to over-do it.  Definitely no drain or stitches in cause you don;t want to rip anything.  But most importantly check with your doctor to see what type of physical activity he recommends.

Good luck.


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By BARBIE, Community Member— Last Modified: 06/13/12, First Published: 08/22/08