Shoulder Mobility Exercises Essential After Breast Cancer Surgery
shoulder mobility exercises
Marian Barnick

Marian Barnick

Registered Kinesiologist and Human Movement Specialist


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Shoulder Mobility Exercises Are Essential After Breast Cancer Surgery

Shoulder Mobility Exercises

As soon as you’re able, it is important to start with exercise.  But the word exercise is misleading.  Mobility is the first type of exercise for breast cancer patients after surgery.  

That’s because it meets the needs of your immediate goals: improving range of motion, decreasing swelling, reducing the risk of lymphedema, and getting you back to your activities.  And let’s not forget decreasing aches, pain, and tightness.

Types of Exercise

Exercise can mean tennis to one person, walking to another, and weight lifting for someone else.  So when breast cancer patients and survivors are told to exercise, it doesn’t provide enough information to allow patients and survivors to make the best choice for where they’re at in their recovery journey.

Foundations First Framework for Breast Cancer Exercise

In order to reach your best potential, the body needs to ensure it has all its members of the team functioning at their optimal level.  For the body, team members include movement of the joints, strength of the muscles, cardio-vascular conditioning for endurance, and balance and stability to keep you in the position you need.

If you set a goal, for example, that you want to walk for 30 minutes a day, then by breaking the goal down into all the components the body needs, let’s you know exactly what you should be working on.

The Foundations First Framework was developed to help you start from the ground level of activity and work your way up to your goals.  And it starts with mobility.

If your body has limited movement of the joints, like the shoulder, then it makes many activities difficult to complete without pain, pulling, and problems – even walking.  You probably didn’t think about the need for arm swing when you go out walking.

Here’s a link to help if walking is one of your activity goals.

5 Reasons Why Shoulder Mobility Comes Before Walking

Start with Shoulder Mobility Exercises


Right after surgery, the Foundations First Framework supports using a stretching routine to help with shoulder mobility exercises by providing a protocol for all six foundational movements of the shoulder.  This not only improves mobility, but decreases the risk of lymphedema and improves long term quality of life.

Research shows that breast cancer survivors, even after 5 years post treatment, indicate problems with their arm mobility as one of the leading causes of limiting their quality of life.

The sooner you start, of course with consent from your surgeon, the easier it is to improve range of motion and limit the formation of tight scar tissue.

If you need support with how to Move Well, check out:

Monday Moves with Marian YouTube Playlist

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