Post surgery is always a blur. Nurses tell you a lot of information but generally you’re quite drugged up still and sleeping through half of their talk! At least I was!
Luckily, your surgeon should give you some information on movements, exercises or stretches to do post surgery.
I was given a handout with a few range of motion exercises to do. The handout told me to try to do these movements right away and to work in a pain free range of motion.
After a mastectomy you will be pretty uncomfortable. It’s a pretty big surgery, both physically and emotionally. If you choose immediate breast reconstruction it becomes even bigger.
I had a mastectomy, sentinal lymph node removal and immediate reconstruction with a tissue expander placed under my pectoralis muscle. The tissue expander was also filled slightly to begin the expansion process. I also had one drain, some people have two. Everything was sore, stiff and uncomfortable. My right shoulder range of motion was very low. I tried to move through some of the basic range of motion exercises each day, but honestly I mostly just napped!
I luckily had my drain removed after only five days! This was very exciting for me! If you’ve ever had a drain you will understand why. Once the drain was removed I felt more free, and less nervous, to move my right arm. Every day I worked on movement in a pain free range.
A week post surgery I went into the gym. I needed a feeling of normal. The first day I just stood in the gym and did my range of motion movements and some lower body stretching.
The days following I added in some easy leg exercises. My workouts looked like this:
10 repetitions each, 2-3 times through.
- body weight squats
- shoulder flexion with elbows bent
- mini band lateral walks
- elbow push upper body range of motion
- mini band lunges
- shoulder abduction with elbows bent
- body weight glute bridges
- shoulder flexion with arms straight (raise arms overhead)
It is very important to listen to your body. Doing any sort of activity besides walking for some people after major surgery would be too much. I had good energy and was recovering well. I knew when to not push it and rest or just go for a walk.
Mentally, for me, going to the gym and doing a small workout was a huge mental boost. I was grateful to feel well enough to try.