It is important and beneficial to exercise after breast cancer surgery in a safe and controlled setting once you are medically cleared.
After surgery, it is important that you work with a skilled therapist who will create an individualized exercise program to alleviate your pain, while increasing your mobility and strength. Shortly after surgery scar tissue may form which can impair the flexibility of your chest, armpit and abdomen. Scar mobilization will help break down the scar tissue and provide relief during stretching.
Studies have shown that early therapy after breast cancer surgery and axillary node dissection can help to prevent and reduce lymphedema occurrence (Lacomba, 2010). Additionally, repeated muscle contractions (with the limb bandaged) accelerate lymph drainage (LeDuc, 1990).
Most importantly, working out and feeling better helps to maintain inner strength and a positive attitude.
Lacomba M, Sanchez M, Goni A, Merino D, Del Moral O, Tellez E, Mogollon E. Effectiveness of early physiotherapy to prevent lymphedema after surgery for breast cancer: randomized, single blinded, clinical trial. British Medical Journal 2010; 340: b5396.
LeDuc O, Peeters A, Bourgeois P. Bandages: scintigraphic demonstration of its efficacy on colloidal protein reabsorption during muscle activity. Progress in Lymphology XII, 421-423, 1990.