How to exercise after breast cancer..and why you should

Pictured, Vanessa Reid, fitness instructor and Linda, breast cancer survivor, discussing exercising after breast cancer.

Yesterday, October 1st, saw the start of breast cancer awareness month. To mark the day, and in the lead up to Breast Health Day on October 15th, Europa Donna Ireland hosted a talk on breast cancer and exercise with professional fitness trainer, Vanessa Reid, at the Central Hotel, Dublin.

Vanessa was accompanied by breast cancer survivor, Linda, who is working with Vanessa to regain her confidence and range of movement following muscle and nerve damage as a result of surgery. Both emphasised the importance of learning the correct exercise technique, as without it, the risk of injury is high.

Linda told us how much her confidence has grown since working with Vanessa, who favours a step by step incremental approach to building up strength and confidence. “Play to your strengths” advised Vanessa, when discussing which exercise is best suited to breast cancer survivors. Choose an exercise that you will enjoy and stick with. Women seem to do better when exercising in a group, so consider joining a class, or working out with a friend.

Common barriers to establishing an exercise routine include pain after surgery, worries of “not doing it right”, restricted range of movement, and confusion over conflicting advice on the correct exercise to do. Concerns about developing lymphedma can also be a significant barrier to exercising, not helped by different reports of what should/shouldn’t be done to prevent it. Vanessa had good advice on how the correct exercise can help prevent the development of lymphdema and assist with recovery if affected. She also emphasized the importance of correct breathing techniques in lymphedema management. Vanessa believes that learning diaphragmatic breathing is the first part of foundation training for exercise. (Lymphedema is a common, chronic condition that often develops after breast surgery involving removal or damage to the lymph nods in the armpit. It occurs when excess lymphatic fluid accumulates, leading to swelling, rash, redness and blistering that causes tenderness, numbness, or aching in the arm, chest wall and breast).

Both women are passionate advocates for the role exercise plays in recovery from breast cancer.¬† Unfortunately we ran out of time to answer everyone’s questions, but Vanessa has kindly agreed to answer any questions you may have on the Europa Donna Ireland Facebook page. Just leave a comment and she will get back to you during the week.

Connect with Vanessa on Faceboook and Twitter @Irl4Livestrong

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