I keep hearing this and it makes me upset. The issue of not knowing that moving your arm and shoulder – doing the exercises – as soon as the drain is out reduces the risk of getting lymphedema as well as frozen shoulder. Most hospitals will advise you of exercise for lymphedema but some do not or the message is not heard when you are still in shock.
Here are a few exercises you can do:
- Walking up the wall – standing facing the wall, walk your fingers up the wall and extend the arm as far as you can without pain.
- Arm circles – you can do these both standing and leaning over. These arm circles help the flow of lymph fluid and keep the shoulder flexible.
- Head tilts – a) chin to chest and up to upright; b) tilt ear to shoulder, and c) head roll – make a smile on your chest with your chin making sure not to take the head back. These movements open up the lymph system to drain the lymph fluid.
These are just a few of the exercises, but they are so important to do daily. Look for exercise classes in your area that understand lymphedema and the issues around breast cancer. The Healthy-Steps™ program (formerly known as The Lebed Method) is excellent if there is one in your area.