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Arm Stretches after Mastectomy or Breast Reconstruction
can prevent arm and shoulder stiffness. You may need to wait until after your drains or stitches are removed to begin stretching. You may need to see a physical therapist. A physical therapist teaches you exercises to help improve movement and strength, and to decrease pain. You may be able to start stretching exercises 3 to 7 days after surgery. This may depend on the type of surgery you have had. Do not stretch until your healthcare provider says it is okay. It may help to take a warm shower or pain medicine before you stretch.
Arm stretches from a lying position:
- Lie down on your back and raise your arms above the level of your heart. Place your arms on pillows to keep them in this position. Hold your arms there for 45 minutes. Open and close your hands 15 to 20 times while your arms are in this position.
- Lie down on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Hold a broom handle or stick-like object across your stomach with both hands. Keep your palms facing up. Lift the object over your head as far as you can. Stop when you feel a stretch. Hold for 5 seconds. Lower your arms to your stomach. Repeat 5 to 7 times.
Arm stretches from a sitting position:
- Sit in a chair and press your back against the back of the chair. Move the chair close to a table or counter. Place your arms on the table with your palms down and elbows straight. Slowly slide one arm forward and away from you. Stop when you feel a stretch. Hold your arm there and count to 5. Relax your arm and slowly move it back toward your body. Repeat with the other arm. Repeat this 5 to 7 times on each side.
- Sit in a chair and clasp your hands together in your lap. Keep your elbows straight and lift your arms over your head. When your arms are over your head, lean toward the right until you feel a stretch. Keep your arms overhead. Hold for 5 seconds. Return to center and lower your arms. Repeat on the left side.
Arm stretches from a standing position:
- Stand facing a wall. Move your toes 8 to 10 inches from the wall. Place your arms on the wall with your palms down and elbows bent. One arm at a time, use your fingers to climb the wall. Stop when you feel a stretch. Hold your arm there and count to 5. Return to your starting position. Repeat 5 to 7 times.
- Stand facing a corner of a room. Move your toes 8 to 10 inches from the corner. Bend your elbows and place one arm on each wall of the corner. Your forearm should be flat against the wall. Your elbows should be as close to shoulder height as possible. Lean forward with your chest as you keep your feet in place. Keep your shoulders dropped away from your ears. Stop when you feel a stretch across your chest and shoulders. Return to the starting position. Repeat 5 to 7 times.
Follow up with your doctor as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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