As a breast cancer survivor and breast cancer exercise specialist, my journey has been one of resilience, renewal, and the unwavering belief in the healing power of movement. Today, I want to share my insights into my top 3 strength training exercises that can be specifically tailored for breast cancer patients.
Utilizing the diverse modalities of bodyweight exercises, resistance bands, and free weights, these exercises are designed to empower survivors on their path to physical recovery and well-being.
The Proof is in the pudding
The scientific evidence supporting the benefits of strength training for breast cancer survivors is a crucial aspect of understanding its positive impact on recovery.
One study even showed that doing specific exercises can make your muscles stronger and help you feel less tired after breast cancer treatment. Another study talked about how these exercises can make you feel happier and lessen the bad effects of cancer treatments.
These compelling findings not only emphasize the imperative of integrating strength training into rehabilitation but also reflect my own breast cancer journey. I want to share what I’ve learned during my own journey with breast cancer exercises, and I hope it can help others understand how awesome these exercises can be!
1. Bodyweight Exercises
Bodyweight exercises form the foundation of any breast cancer strength training regimen. These exercises are accessible, require no additional equipment, and allow survivors to rebuild strength gradually.
Whether you’ve undergone surgery, or in treatment, bodyweight exercises are a critical component in laying the ground work to solidify the mind body connection.
We all go to the bathroom right? Maybe your washer and dryer are low to the ground like me. I’ll bet that you get up and sit back down on the couch. Well then that means you’re doing squats!
Since this is a movement we need to do all day long, why not work on your form? That way when you’re ready to add in that additional load, the correct muscles are working and no new muscle compensation patterns are being developed.
This exercise engages the lower body muscles, promoting strength and stability for a movement that is done all day every day.
2. Resistance Band Training
Resistance bands aren’t just an easy way to get a workout in, it’s also a gentle way for you to rebuild strength
After a breast cancer surgery the upper body in particular is severely affected. I mean we’ve undergone an amputation – no matter if it’s a mastectomy or lumpectomy.
With resistance bands, there’s an added benefit of ensuring you’re not placing too much stress on your joints. However, you can still adjust the resistance as you start to progress through movements and get stronger!
It’s important to note that when using resistance bands, you avoid wrapping the band around your hand. This is a protocol for lymphedema prevention. To ensure you’re working safely, you’ll want to grab the band with the palm of your hand(s) or use clip on handles.
4. Free Weight Training
Incorporating free weights (like dumbbells) into a strength training routine allows you to continue progressively build strength as you regain confidence your body.
Dumbbell exercises offer a dynamic range of motion, promoting functional movement and aiding in the restoration of muscle balance.
It’s crucial to focus on proper form to prevent injury and optimize the effectiveness of these exercises. Remember when earlier I said that we should perfect our form? Here’s where that foundation is really going to work!
Start with a light weight working up to higher rep counts so you can focus on that form. From there I recommend that survivors gradually increase weight as strength and confidence grow. Keeping in mind that if any lymphedema symptoms start to occur, regress your exercise.
Slow and steady is the name of the strength training game!
Strength training after breast cancer is a journey that demands a personalized and holistic approach.
By incorporating bodyweight exercises, resistance band training, and free weights into a carefully structured routine, you can regain strength, improve mobility, and foster a renewed sense of well-being. As a fellow survivor and certified breast cancer exercise specialist, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of individualization and gradual progression.
Always consult with healthcare professionals and consider working with a certified personal trainer with expertise in breast cancer to ensure a safe and tailored strength training program.
Together, let’s reclaim the power within us and build a stronger, resilient future beyond breast cancer.