Relief from Cancer-Related Fatigue


Breast Cancer "Legs Over Bolster" Yoga Pose

Angela Stryngkowski, E-RYT 500 Happily Doing “Legs Over Bolster” Yoga Pose

By Diana Ross, E-RYT 500, Founder of Breast Cancer Yoga

Cancer-related fatigue (CRF) is very common. Fatigue can often be confused with tiredness, but there are differences between the two conditions. For one, tiredness happens to everyone, especially after certain activities or chemo – but  fatigue is less common and an excessive whole-body tiredness that is not relieved with sleep.   This debilitating condition can impact your quality of life.  It can be acute (lasting a month or less) or chronic (lasting from one month to six months or longer). The precise reason for this intensive tiredness is unknown, but practitioners believe it may be related to the process of cancer itself or chemotherapies and radiation treatments. (CRF) is one of the most common side effects of cancer and its associated treatments. Usually, it comes on suddenly, and does not result from activity or exertion. It is often described as “paralyzing.” It may continue even after treatment is complete.

 If you’re a cancer survivor and feeling tired or even worse, even long after treatment, you are not alone. But you can do something about it.

About one-third of breast cancer survivors experience CRF for anywhere from a year to several years post-treatment. While there’s no conventional therapy to resolve it, studies are increasingly showing yoga can help.  Patients with different cancers report relief with exercise, specifically yoga.

 Yoga designed especially for breast cancer survivors is helping women to catch a second wind.

In fact, a recent UCLA study found that three months after beginning this practice, women with post-treatment fatigue were still feeling more invigorated than before they began the exercise program. Not only do women become more energized, but they see improvement in mood and sleep; they are typically more relaxed, more aware, and more accepting of what life brings to them. All these attributes are so critical as we work toward continued mental and physical well being, and ultimately, our healing.

 How does Breast Cancer Yoga target physical and emotional fatigue?

Breast Cancer Yoga helps relieve taxing fatigue by encouraging deep breathing, which increases oxygen consumption.  This deep breathing is then tied into each gentle flowing yoga movement.  Each pose is supported with props to allow for comfort and support.

Begin a yoga practice, slowly, and before long you will begin to experience positive energy, increased flexibility, and less pain.

Studies show that breast cancer survivors who practice restorative yoga poses regularly, sleep better, have less joint pain, more energy, mental clarity, increased range of motion (ROM), strength, increased resistance, and lower stress.

Exercising to gain energy and strength can be a catch all; it’s hard to exercise if you’re tired and weak but what’s nice about yoga, particularly restorative yoga, is that it doesn’t take the strength and stamina required to go out for a run or bike ride. Restorative poses can be done either in a reclined position or a supported seated position, for example:

 Legs Over Bolster Forward Bend

*  creates a deep sense of inner peace
*  stimulates parasympathetic relaxation response
*  relieves stress and anxiety
*  decreases heart rate
*  reduces circulating stress hormones
*  lengthens back body
*  stretches adductors
*  decreases lumbar lordosis

Technique and pacing are important.

Please don’t over do it, especially when you get started. Rather, gradually implement a daily yoga practice. Work to maintain a positive attitude and know through time and practice you will see improvement. You will actually find that recovery can be a positive, “feel good” experience. Please speak to your health care provider before starting an exercise program of any kind. For more on restorative yoga and to see more poses demonstrated, visit http://www.breastcanceryoga.com/

Diana RossAbout Diana Ross:  E-RYT 500 restorative yoga teacher, survivor that cares and founder of Breast Cancer Yoga. Diana is making a difference with Breast Cancer Yoga therapeutic products designed to support you emotionally and physically during breast cancer . We want to give you the attention and personal service you need so please email us at info@breastcanceryoga.com if you have questions.

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