This Star Exercise is the first in a series we’ll be doing this month for breast cancer awareness.
Treatment for breast cancer often will involve a surgery (e.g., lumpectomy or mastectomy), lymph node removal and/or radiation therapy. These treatment methods, in particular, are mentioned because of the negative effects they can have on flexibility and range of motion on the treated side.
Once cleared by your doctor, stretching can be a great tool to address any limitations you have noticed after treatment for your breast cancer.
Whether at home or with the guidance of a rehab expert, the open book stretch is a classic that targets multiple areas in the body.
Not only this, but it’s a fantastic way to open up your posture.
This stretch targets the entire spine and upper body. Talk about multi-dimensional!
The best part is that you won’t need any equipment, except a rolled towel or pillow for neck support.
For our purposes today, we’ll be practicing this on the affected, or limited, side. In normal circumstances, outside of a surgery or radiation therapy, you can practice this on both sides.
Here’s how it’s done!
Step 1: Starting Position:
Position yourself in side-lying on your bed, couch or floor (whichever surface you’re most comfortable on).
The affected side you are stretching is the side that should be facing up towards the ceiling.
The legs can curl up into a bent position, as if you’re going to sleep.
Both arms should be stretched forward, palms facing each other, parallel to the surface you’re on.
Step 2: Open Book:
Begin moving your top arm up towards the ceiling.
Allow your head to turn and follow the arm but avoid actually lifting it up off your head support.
Once your arm is pointing towards the ceiling, allow it to continue moving back; however, you should also begin rotating the spine at this point.
Continue with this rotation stretch as far as feels comfortable for the shoulder and spine.
Once at your end range, hold for up to 5 seconds, then slowly return to your starting position.
Repeat up to 10 repetitions.
That’s it! Super simple.
Here’s a video demonstration for a closer look at the open book stretch: