Recovering from a breast cancer diagnosis is nothing short of a miracle, but the disease itself and its treatments can have a lingering impact. Balance can suffer as a result of neuropathy, a common side effect of chemotherapy, and surgeries can have a negative impact as well. These quick exercises don’t require any special equipment, and they take only a few minutes. To improve your balance after cancer, give them a try.
Do the DUI walk of shame
Motorists who get pulled over on the suspicion of impaired driving are sometimes asked to walk in a straight line. Police have the suspicious driver walk heel to toe, kind of like the way kids play on sidewalk curbs with their arms stretched out on either side like airplane wings. Doing this exercise at home can strengthen your balance, and you don’t have to get pulled over to do it. Just place one foot in front of the other, heel to toe, and walk 10 paces. Then, turn around and repeat the process going in the other direction. If you need support, use a wall, walking sticks, or a partner to make sure you don’t fall.
Stand on one leg
This simple exercise takes no special equipment and very little time. Plant one foot firmly on the ground, visualizing your leg as the trunk of a sturdy tree, your roots set deep in the earth. Focus on a single image at eye level, like the hinge of a door or the back of a chair, and maintain your balance for as long as you can. For extra credit, you can pull the opposite heel into your buttock so you feel a gentle stretch in your thigh muscles. While you do this exercise, you’ll probably notice that one side of your body is more balanced than the other. That’s perfectly normal, and as you practice, both sides of your body will continue to get stronger.
Take a yoga class
Practicing yoga is one of the most gentle, effective ways to improve balance, and taking a class offers the added benefit of connecting you with like-minded people. Yoga also addresses other issues that frequently impact cancer patients like depression, anxiety, and flexibility. If you’re on a budget, look for free or low-cost classes through cancer resource centers near you.
Strengthen your core
When you strengthen your core muscles, you get better balance. Your “core” includes all the muscles from your shoulders to your hips, and getting that area in shape pays major health dividends. Planks are great exercises to improve this region of the body, but that can be a challenge for cancer patients. An easier way to start is to get down on all fours. Then, extend your right leg behind you and your left arm in front of you. Hold that position for as long as you can, and then switch to the other side. You’ll be able to hold those positions longer the more you practice and the stronger you become.
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