Pain With Walking After Breast Cancer
walking after breast cancer
Marian Barnick

Marian Barnick

Registered Kinesiologist and Human Movement Specialist



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Walking is celebrated as an amazing cancer rehab exercise for breast cancer patients.  And breast cancer survivors, thrivers, and patients are told to start walking as soon as possible because you don’t want to miss out on all the great benefits.


But this puts a lot of pressure on patients when they’re unable to meet the recommended 150 minutes of activity each week.


The problem occurs when aches and pains start to creep into the walking routine.

Patients start getting pain in the calves when walking.  They’re getting hip pain when walking.  And don’t even start talking about the knee pain with walking that happens just a minute or two from the house.


The issue?

Patients aren’t receiving a selective functional movement assessment or any type of movement screen to check if they’re safe to walk or if there are any underlying issues.


Pain With Walking After Breast Cancer


Consider the changes that the body has gone through before a patient decides to put on those sneakers and consider walking after breast cancer as a form of exercise.


Breast cancer patients can receive a variety of treatments including surgery, chemo, and radiation.  There is also ongoing treatment with hormone therapies that may last up to 10 years. And these treatments bring about changes to their bodies.  The body learns to adapt in order to function and compensates in many ways including with movement.


Chemo treatment may bring about peripheral neuropathy and this can affect balance.  Therefore foot placement with a wider stance and shorter stride may be an adaptive way to continue to function.  But this can lead to hip pain when walking.


Maybe you’ve gained a little weight since diagnosis.  This changes your center of gravity and the way to body moves and adjusts positioning.  Muscle wasting, tight joints, weak core, and stiffness in the shoulder are all going to cause changes to the body.


And these changes are going to become more prevalent when you increase your walking.


So the message of “Just go for a walk” as a form of breast cancer rehab is not taking into consideration the issues that may preclude so many breast cancer patients, survivors, and thrivers, from doing something that sounds so simple.


A structured approach to fill The Gap is essential so patients know there IS a solution that allows them to get back to the activities they love.


Stretching benefits only work when you know what to stretch.  If we break down the activity of walking into its foundational components, it’s easy to know what’s tight and what needs help with a stretching program.


By using the Foundations First Framework, each foundational component is evaluated and patients Level Up towards their goals as they gain the stretching benefits their bodies need to achieve their best potential. 


Walking after breast cancer is a powerful form of exercise with amazing benefits for the body and mental health.  But as with anything, doing it ‘right’ is the key to longevity and getting all of those benefits.

pain with walking

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