By Andrea Leonard, Founder and Owner of the Cancer Exercise Training Institute
One of the most, if not THE most important part of recovering from breast cancer surgery/treatment, is correcting muscle imbalances. When the body is out of “balance” the muscles that are supposed to be doing their “jobs” don’t, and the ones that are only supposed to be assisting, are now the primary muscles used. This begins somewhat of a negative chain reaction throughout the entire body and spine and this “tug of war” can result in injuries and chronic pain. Through the proper combination of strength training and stretching/flexibility exercises, along with balance exercises, we can re-educate our bodies to correct range of motion and postural deviations.
In addition to treatment and surgery there are other factors that can affect balance and movement. These include age, previous injuries, athleticism, and neuropathy. A fairly common side-effect of chemotherapy is peripheral neuropathy. This may damage a single nerve, or a group of nerves, and the symptoms will be related to the type of nerve that is affected. If a sensory nerve is damaged symptoms can include numbness, tingling in the area, a burning sensation, or pain. Damage to a motor nerve can cause muscle weakness in a particular area and, over time, muscle shrinkage and lack of muscle tone.
Exercising on the BOSU® Balance Trainer can help to improve postural stability as well as improving muscle strength and tone. Many women experiencing breast cancer are also menopausal, and either from age or treatment, will have an increased risk of osteoporosis. It is essential to do strength training exercises, but also to work on balance to prevent falling. Bone density can be increased by performing weight-bearing exercises on the Balance Trainer.
Functional movement is a term that is getting a lot of attention in the last decade. In laymen’s terms this is the ability to perform activities of daily living with relative ease, or to mimic movements that a person may encounter in their day-to-day life. Examples are the act of squatting (sitting in the chair, using the restroom, or lift/lower an object safely) or shoulder flexion (reaching your arm up overhead in order to reach something in a cabinet, or replace a light bulb).By working on a combination of strength training and balance exercises on the BOSU® Balance Trainer, we integrate the entire body so that all muscles work together synergistically. We are really just trying to “re-educate” our bodies on something that used to be second nature to them!
A word of caution…..while incredible results can be achieved by using the BOSU® Balance Trainer, it’s very important to choose the correct combination of exercises based on individual needs. Performing the wrong exercises can actually exacerbate existing problems and increase risk for injury. It’s critical to begin slowly and ONLY with permission from your doctor or surgeon. Exercises on the BOSU® Balance Trainer can be modified to make them easier/safer, or more difficult/challenging. Work with an exercise professional who can help you to safely and effectively reach your exercise goals!
ABOUT ANDREA LEONARD
Andrea is certified as a corrective exercise specialist by The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), as a personal trainer by The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), the American Council on Exercise (ACE), and as a Special Populations Expert by The Cooper Institute. She is also a continuing education provider for the National Academy of Sports Medicine and The American Council on Exercise. Andrea is part of the Hedstrom Fitness/BOSU® Development team. Andrea Leonard is a 31 year cancer survivor.
To learn more about the Andrea’s Cancer Exercise Training Institute, please visit www.thecancerspecialist.com