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Exercise After a Mastectomy: 6 Tips From a Personal Trainer

Updated: Feb 16, 2023

Exercising after a mastectomy is an important aspect of recovery and overall health. After my own mastectomy exercise is what helped me feel like myself again, regain confidence, and improve my mobility.

When I googled “exercise after mastectomy,” generally posts like Best Exercises for After a Mastectomy, Best Workouts for Before a Mastectomy, and Mobility Movements After a Mastectomy came up. While I do think exercise and workout ideas can be helpful, the truth is there are no best exercises for before or after a mastectomy because we all have such different experiences and abilities.

The post Mastectomy exercises that are best for you are determined by many factors including: type of surgery, type of reconstruction, skill of your surgical team, any additional treatments you’ve undergone (or are still undergoing), diet, activity level prior to surgery and so much more.

It’s not possible to provide the best workouts or exercises for you without knowing the details of your experience.

However, I can give you some general tips on how to get back into exercise.

1. Consult with your doctor: Before starting any exercise program, it's important to speak with your doctor and get their approval. They can provide guidance on any limitations and recommendations specific to your individual case. 2. Work with a physical therapist: ask your doctor for a referral to physical therapy so you can get individualized attention and expertise as you ease your way back into exercise. Your physical therapist should also be able to help with scar tissue, mobility, and programming workouts specific to you. 3. Gradual progression: Gradually increase the intensity and duration of your exercise routine. Start with gentle movements and gradually progress to more challenging exercises overtime. Stop to ask yourself how did those exercises feel? How do I feel after my workouts? How do I feel in the days following exercise? 4. Don’t neglect an entire muscle group: After a mastectomy, many people want to skip upper body. Unless there is a reason you are skipping upper body, your chest and all upper body muscles are important to train as they can become weak from surgery. It is also important to train all muscle groups to avoid muscle imbalances and poor posture. If there is a reason you feel it is necessary to avoid upper body exercises you should talk to your doctor. 5. Wear proper support: If you had reconstructive surgery, be sure to wear a supportive sports bra during exercise to protect your implants. 6. Modify as needed: If you experience pain or discomfort during exercise, modify your routine and consult with your doctor if necessary.


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