Flexibility exercises help you bend and reach with ease, allowing you to move your joints freely through their full range of motion (ROM). Often, sore areas of your body are due to poor postural alignment and muscles that are actually being overstretched. Think “opposites” when performing your flexibility exercises. A sore back may be caused by back muscles that are being overstretched and the opposite abdominal muscles being tight.

 

ACSM/ACS Cancer Recommended Guidelines:

 

Frequency

at least 2-3 days a week but may be done daily

Intensity

stretch to point of tension, never pain

Time

hold each stretch for 10-30 seconds, repeat 2- 4 times

Type

Gentle yoga or Tai Chi or stretching classes

 

Your flexibility is often compromised after surgery due to changing your posture to protect your surgical area or from scar tissue forming. Regaining your flexibility will be your top priority after surgery. Ask your doctor or cancer exercise specialist to measure your flexibility before surgery so you will have an idea of what your normal range of motion is and what you are trying to regain. You can also perform a self assessment.

Special Considerations

  • Warm muscles are more responsive to stretching. Warm up your body internally before stretching with a few minutes of gentle movement.
  • Do not use external heat such as heating pads or hot water bottles, which can irritate surgical sites.
  • Stretch to the point of tension, never pain.
  • Avoid advanced yoga positions until you have physician approval.
  • You will want to focus on regaining full range of motion in your surgical areas before starting any resistance exercises in that area.
  • Do not start strengthening until you have regained 90% of your pretreatment ROM or are within the normal range of motion for the joint you’re working.