These exercises are designed to help you feel strong and flexible leading up to your surgery. We are often given exercises to do after surgery to help recover function, but being active and strong leading up to surgery can make your recovery easier and faster!
PVC Pipe Stretch
This stretch is amazing for opening up your chest. If you are getting ready for surgery, this ensures your chest is flexible and is seriously great for mobility. Mobility is so important before surgery because it ensures you are able to actively take your joints through their full range of motion, something that is typically disrupted after a double mastectomy.
-Lie on your back with knees bent, holding a stick/broom /PVC pipe in both hands, resting above your head.
-Keeping the stick and your arms flat against the ground, slowly slide the stick up, until your elbows are straight or until you feel a stretch in your chest and arms. Hold and then slowly slide back down.
-For additional stretch, you can roll a towel and place it between your shoulder blades
Scapular push up
Excellent for getting your upper body stronger and getting you ready for surgery. Many women struggle with back pain post mastectomy, so strengthening your scapula – aka your shoulder blades – strengthens your back. This move strengthens your serratus anterior – which connects between the ribs, underneath the scapula itself, and its main function is to keep the shoulder blades pressed against the upper back. When you strengthen it, you promote normal scapular motion and improve shoulder stability. This is also a great place to start if you have never been able to do a pushup and you have always wanted to be able to!
-Stand at an elevated bench or counter top, so that the body is at a slight incline and hands are about shoulder width apart.
-Keep elbows straight, and press up through shoulder blades (almost like rounding out upper back), then lower back down. Elbows stay straight the entire time.
-The lower you get, the harder it will be – for example hardest would be in a standard push up position on the floor.
Focusing on your core is so important when preparing for surgery. After surgery you aren’t supposed to push up with you arms, so getting out of bed or off the couch becomes ALL core. Ensuring that your core is strong truly sets you up for success!
-Lie on your back with arms and legs straight up to the ceiling (can bend knees if this is too difficult), engage your core to keep your low back flat against the ground.
-Slowly lower the opposite arm and leg toward the floor, then come back up to starting position, and alternate sides.
-If this is too challenging, you could do just arms or just legs, or could bend knees.
You should always consult with your medical team before attempting any of these exercises or any new exercise activity in general. Particularly if you just had surgery, make sure you are cleared by your medical team before trying any new activities or exercises. These exercises are designed as general advice/knowledge, not specific treatment. These are exercises that have worked for us (myself, Paige, and Joslynn), but every body is different, so make sure you listen to yours! What works for me may not work for you. A good Physical Therapist is a valuable tool if you need more specific guidance and treatment – you can find a PT in your area using the APTA or AAOMPT websites.