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Exercises After Breast Surgery: Ball Squeeze, Arm Cross, and Broom Stretch

As you recover from breast surgery, your healthcare provider will tell you when it's safe to start exercising, what kind of exercises you should do, and how much you should do. Your goal is to regain normal arm and shoulder range of motion and use of your arm. This will also improve your strength and prevent scarring from limiting your movement (scar contracture). For your safety, use this handout only as directed by your healthcare provider or physical therapist.

These are two exercises that may be suggested. Be sure to take deep breaths as you do each exercise. Speak with your surgeon and healthcare team about other exercises that might be right for you.

Woman doing ball squeeze exercise.

Woman doing arm cross exercise.

Ball squeeze

  • While standing, sitting, or lying down, hold a rubber ball in your hand on the treated side.

  • Keep your arm slightly bent with your palm toward the ceiling. Lift your hand higher than your heart. Squeeze and relax the ball.

  • Repeat 10 times.

Arm cross

  • Stand with elbows bent and raised to shoulder level. Cross one arm on top of the other arm. Touch your elbows with your fingers.

  • Push your elbows backward, squeezing your shoulder blades together.

  • Repeat 10 times.

Online Medical Reviewer: Kimberly Stump-Sutliff RN MSN AOCNS
Online Medical Reviewer: Louise Cunningham RN BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Todd Campbell MD
Date Last Reviewed: 7/1/2023
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