The effects of walking poles on shoulder function in breast cancer survivors

Integr Cancer Ther. 2005 Dec;4(4):287-93. doi: 10.1177/1534735405282212.


Breast cancer treatment often results in impaired shoulder function, in particular, decrements in muscular endurance and range of motion, which may lead to decreased quality of life. The purpose of this investigation was to determine the effects of walking pole use on shoulder function in female breast cancer survivors. Participants had previously been treated with 1 or a combination of the following: mastectomy, breast conservation therapy, axillary lymph node dissection, chemotherapy, or radiation. Participants were randomly placed in experimental (n = 6) and control (n = 6) groups and met with a cancer exercise specialist 2 times each week for 8 weeks. The experimental group used walking poles during the 20-minute aerobic portion of their workout, whereas the control group did not use walking poles but performed 20 minutes of aerobic exercise per workout session. Both groups participated in similar resistance training programs. Testing was done pre- and postexercise intervention to determine upper body muscular endurance and active range of motion at the glenohumeral joint. Repeated-measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) revealed significant improvements in muscular endurance as measured by the bench press (P = .046) and lat pull down (P = .013) in the walking pole group. No within-group improvements were found in the group that did not use walking poles. The data suggest that using a walking pole exercise routine for 8 weeks significantly improved muscular endurance of the upper body, which would clearly be beneficial in helping breast cancer survivors perform activities of daily living and regain an independent lifestyle.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Breast Neoplasms / rehabilitation*
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy
  • Canes*
  • Exercise Therapy / instrumentation*
  • Exercise Tolerance
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Joint Diseases / etiology
  • Joint Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Middle Aged
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Shoulder Joint
  • Survivors
  • Walking