If you’re planning to do strength training after breast cancer treatment, you may want to work out with a certified trainer (or physical therapist trained in lymphedema diagnosis and management) who has experience working with breast cancer survivors. A qualified trainer can help you start slowly, teach you precautions to take and push you enough but not too much.
Make sure your trainer is certified by a national trainer organization. The American College of Sports Medicine, the National Association of Sports Medicine, and the American Council on Exercise are three well-known, respected organizations, but there are others that are also good.
A trainer who has a cancer and exercise training certification from the American College of Sports Medicine has done additional training to work specifically with people who’ve been diagnosed with cancer. After completing the cancer and exercise training program, a trainer will “understand the potential impact of cancer therapy, especially surgery and chemotherapy, in putting cancer patients at increased risk of injury and other complications, such as lymphedema, from exercise.” You can search for a cancer and exercise-certified trainer on the American College of Sports Medicine ProFinder.
The PALS for Life training program teaches trainers to work specifically with breast cancer survivors. This program is based on the protocol used in the Physical Activity and Lymphedema trial. Visit the PALS for Life website to find a PALS for Life-qualified trainer.
While a college degree isn’t necessary to be a good trainer, a degree in a field related to exercise physiology means the person has that much more education.
Here are some questions to ask a potential trainer:
- Have you worked with breast cancer survivors before?
- Are you certified? If so, which organization is your certification from?
- Do you hold a cancer and exercise-training certification?
- May I have the names of three of your current client references?