Pilates and Breast Cancer

Pilates training can be an excellent way to achieve the postural re-education and muscle-balancing necessary to recover from the side effects of breast cancer treatment. Pilates can help alleviate pain from breast cancer operative procedures, restore joint mobility and tissue integrity, and help regain lost strength. Most importantly, Pilates can be a gateway for a true “Return to Life” for many women, as the title of Joseph Pilates’ popular book states.

Here in the U.S., there’s not a lot of focus on aftercare and the patient is left on her own to rehabilitate. Cancer beats you up, both physically and psychologically, so the physical filters directly into the emotional and psychological well-being of the patient. There’s a huge psychological component to recovery. There’s research out there that shows that if you’re proactive in your recovery, quality of life improves more quickly. You have more control, you have better outcome. It’s a physical, mental and emotional process.

When you are a survivor it’s a different perspective. We have no control over surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation. You’re part of a group you didn’t choose to become part of. Surgery, radiation, chemo doesn’t feel good. So with this, the patient has control over doing something positive, and can gain control over some portion of their recovery. Literally, a Pilates program can make you feel better and improve your quality of life. I didn’t realize that until I went through it. When you go through it, the diagnosis consumes part of your life for awhile, so to be able to have something positive in the mix of all that…I can’t begin to explain how good that feels.

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