Exercise for Breast Reconstruction – Feeling Your Sexy Back!
As many of you know, breast reconstruction can be a very long and winding road. However, you do have the option of of a personalized guide through that journey –
Exercise, the right exercise.
Feeling Your Sexy Back! I’m not going to say getting your sexy back – because you didn’t lose it – maybe misplaced it for a little while. Exercise will awaken all those neurotransmitters, endorphins, muscle activation, mindset……that physiologically constitute your inner sexy. I actually challenge you to realize – you can further optimize that very hot button of inner sexy, post reconstruction!
There will be variations in all of these points based on your own unique situation (over 20 deciding parameters!). However, all of these are integral partners of post reconstruction exercise.
Exercise can take that inner cacophony, and turn it into a blissful symphony. Let us count the ways…..
1) Posture post Breast Reconstruction. I think posture is #1 to feeling our sexing back, physiologically and psychologically. Grandma did tell us to sit up straight and eat an apple a day, both are excellent pieces of advice. Posture is a critical component to breathing, balance and effective performance of our entire body. Rounded shoulder syndrome (RSS) is all too common to start with in our high screen time world. Reconstructive procedures can create or exacerbate RSS. Good posture though, is not as simple as sit up straight. I urge EVERYONE to seek postural evaluations post reconstruction from a trained physiotherapist, specialized exercise professional. Posture is NOT DIY (do it yourself). Learning the intricacies of posture, and implementing them into your daily life, will make all the difference for a full, successful recovery from the reconstructive procedure, your quality of life, success with exercise…and feeling your sexy back!
2) Range of Motion: Sure, the first thing we literally ache for after reconstruction is pain free ROM, which also allows us to carry on with our normal, every day functional demands.
ROM exercises can also be easily combined with lymphedema prevention exercises, which are a necessity with most people.
In working with ROM there are certain exercises, when permission is granted from your health care professional – you can practice on your own. These are “Active ROM” exercises.
When working with a health and fitness professional, they can perform “passive ROM” exercises to further improve your ROM – and provide you ways to practice these at home.
Alway start all exercises with NO extra weight
3) Power Pump Muscles: Far too often I see people train the local area of reconstruction only. It is imperative to train the entire body to support recovery. Working the lower body muscles….glutes, quads, hamstrings, lower leg muscles….We know it is important to fend off excess adiposity (body fat) in breast cancer recovery. The power pump muscles are great calorie burners.
Even more importantly, good strong power pump muscles given a greater force for blood return back to the upper body – the heart and brain.
Muscles are our true BFF in life – Best Friend Forever, but unfortunately they are the ultimate example of use it or lose it. Cancer, cancer treatments, Breast Reconstruction and age all attack our muscle mass. Safely working those power pump muscles is a critical aspect of healing and recovery, and yes, prevention of metastases.
4) Cardio Respiratory Fitness: I said fitness, not bop till you drop. The correct CRF is the strength training for our heart. It does not have to be at a gym, and is important we pump our circulatory system regularly through out the day. Tracking out heart rate, optimizes the efficacy of CRF.
5) Static, Mindful Exercise: One of the most misunderstood aspects of exercise is the importance of both dynamic and static exercise. Yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, Meditation – when performed properly are true mind, body and soul boosters. When we talk about stress in our lives – we are concerned with daily stress turning into physiological stress, oxidative stress. Again, this type of exercise is excellent for prevention, recovery and beyond.
6) Deep breathing: It sounds so simple – but we often just don’t breathe properly. Proper oxygenation is vital – aka Life’s Breath! Master proper breathing techniques – and take a few breathing breaks through out the day. Be very careful during all forms of exercise to breathe fully and properly.
7) FUN and Camaraderie! I have yet to meet anyone who is looking for another miserable task in their lives. If you are an “I hate exercise” or “I have no time”, I hate to be so blunt – but you are misinformed. The body wants to exercise and be active. However, let’s find a few ways to tickle your exercise fancy, and wake up those suppressed neurotransmitters, creating a calling from within. Vital aspects of the right exercise are fun, you will happily do it on your own, and it creates an inner and out camaraderie……camaraderie inside with yourself, and sure with others. Group activities serve us in a spectacular way on many levels.
8) Physical Activity – Measure It: When people ask me the #1 thing they can do for our health…I ALWAYS reply wear a pedometer, or some kind of an activity tracker. Pedometers today are wonderful, hook them up to your computer ( or phone, iPad…..) and watch your progress. You can compete with friends – including friends around the world you have no idea who they are – other than the fact they are fellow fitness enthusiasts. Healthy competition, with yourself and with others – is a spectacular form of motivation, and tickling those neurotransmitters!
9) Be Careful not to Diagnose: Frequently while exercise we might feel different sensations…certain pains, shortness of breath, maybe dizziness. It is NEVER for any of us to diagnose and slough anything off as “that’s normal”. Report any discomfort to your health care professional.
I do urge people when hiring an exercise professional – please assure you hire someone specifically trained in cancer exercise,and our experience with breast reconstruction and the many demands. Having trained many people recovering from cancer, is NOT the same thing. There is an inner chemistry that must be respected. Not all exercise is supportive of cancer recovery. Cancer exercise training is very different. The right exercise, based on your own unique you.
Track your progress – nothing more motivational and healing than self empowerment – knowing what your body can do, but please remember this is not the time to train for a competition. Achieving extremes is NOT the measure of success.
Our psychological health pumps our physical health and vice versa. Breast Cancer and breast reconstruction are both a gruelling test of tenacity. Exercise – Have Fun. love it, feel it. Fitness is a feeling of liberation, not deprivation and torture. Try different modes of exercise and physical activity….feeling your way to sexy back!