Breast cancer survivors may be surprised to learn that after their last treatment, there are still physical challenges to overcome.
You may feel pain, swelling and stiffness in your shoulder, arm and chest from several treatments, including:
- Breast biopsy
- Lymph node biopsy
- Lymph node removal
- Breast reconstruction
Physiotherapy, Pilates and massage therapy each offer their own benefits to breast cancer survivors who have undergone any of these procedures. Learn how each can reduce your pain and help you move forward.
Physiotherapy for Cancer Recovery
Physiotherapy can help you recover from breast cancer by reducing swelling, increase range of motion, and reducing pain. Physiotherapy can get you back to your regular activities faster, like brushing your hair, driving a car, and simply taking a deep breath. When you still have stitches or drains from your procedures, your movements may be more restricted but there are still physio exercises you can do to promote a full range of motion. Strength exercises can be added once your stitches and drainage devices have been removed.
Keep in mind that even when performing simple range of motion exercises, it is easy to hurt yourself when you’re recovering from breast cancer. You need professional supervision to move in the right ways at the right times.
Further, specific physio exercises can target common side effects of breast cancer. Specific movements can reduce lymphedema, a type of swelling where your body holds onto your interstitial fluid for too long. Other movements target lymphatic cording, also called axillary web syndrome. Stretching can painlessly break these cords so you can regain your arm’s full range of motion.
Pilates for Cancer Recovery
After chemotherapy and radiation, survivors often experience fatigue and weakness, on top of a weakened immune system, usually for four to six weeks afterwards. Exercise can help restore your normal energy levels and rebuild muscles.
Pilates is a particularly great exercise regimen for this task, focusing on core strength to increase your balance. It also doesn’t require you to perform heavy cardio, something few breast cancer survivors are ready for, especially when your ability to take deep breaths is likely impacted by your treatment.
Exercise has benefits beyond your muscles and energy levels. Research suggests that exercise helps your immune system strengthen after chemotherapy and radiation treatments. One of the very best things you can do for yourself is to keep on the path to health with exercise.
Massage for Cancer Recovery
After the stress you’ve been through, a massage is probably a very appealing thought. So, feel free to treat yourself and know that your massage will further your recovery efforts. Massage relaxes you and promotes a positive frame of mind. It also helps to reduce swelling. Though you may not want your chest or shoulders massaged right now, particularly as your incisions heal, it will be more comfortable to be massaged near your sore spots, and you may find that it helps subdue painful swelling.
Besides, massage is more helpful than it seems. Research has found that massage can even help with immune function and helps to combat fatigue.
Join us as Absolute Pilates for any, or all, of these three healing practices. Feel free to contact us anytime about our programs. We wish you the best of health and comfort on your breast cancer recovery journey.