5- Mastectomy Recovery: Become a Pro at Belly Breathing

Road Map to Recovery
  1. Mastectomy
  2. 6 weeks of tissue healing
  3. Rehab to normalize shoulder mobility and core strength –> Return to function
  4. Reconstructive breast surgery
  5. Rehab to continue shoulder strengthening and activity specific –> Return to activity/sport/work

Your surgery incision sites will make it difficult to expand your chest and ribs. The body will have a tendency to immediately recruit any muscle possible to help you breathe better, such as your neck and shoulders. In order to prevent excess pressure to the area and strain to your neck, diaphragmatic breathing or BELLY BREATHING is recommended.  

The diaphragm is a big muscle that sits below your lungs.  It is actually the main muscle to help breathe in air!  When you inhale, air fills up your lunges and pushes the diaphragm down, expanding your belly. You want to breathe deep to expand the diaphragm and belly which will help fill lungs with air without using your chest as much. As you exhale, the diaphragm contracts and pushes the air up and out of the lungs.

Breathe in through the nose, breathe out through the mouth.

Breathe to expand the belly, breathe out empty the belly.

(Image from https://sequencewiz.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Breathing.png)

Take a look at the video below for some simple breathing exercises in different positions!

If you have more questions, please book an appointment with Dr. Ann DeGrey, PT, DPT, SCS or Dr. Lei Lee, PT, DPT for more information and to develop a plan!

Request an Appointment Online, or Contact Us