Did you know that Pilates can help breast cancer patients recover after surgery? This article cites a specific case study of a woman who was not able to brush her hair or put on her seat belt. After a month of bi weekly Pilates sessions she improved her strength and flexibility and reduced her pain and swelling by half. She is now about to do her own hair, buckle her seat belt and even drive herself.
According to Pilates expert Mari Winsor:
“The health benefits — better circulation, feeling generally stronger and releasing stress — are extraordinary.”
Some common side effects of mastectomy are reduced range of motion in the shoulder joint, tightness in the muscles that surround the joint, and pain. Because of the physical and emotional stress of cancer diagnosis and the recovery process many women stop working out. This can lead to more tightness and a longer recovery period.
Why does Pilates help? Pilates is a safe, low impact form of exercise that not only builds strength and flexibility but also body awareness. As my clients learn how to breathe they are able to use these breathing techniques throughout their day to lower stress.
Here are three tips from Dawn-Marie Ickes, MPT on how to get started with Pilates:
1. Breast cancer patients who want to get started with Pilates should always obtain clearance from their doctor before participating in any exercise program, both during and following breast cancer treatment.
2.Find a comprehensively trained Pilates teacher with a minimum of five years teaching experience and coursework in working with Pilates/exercise and breast cancer. It’s also a good idea to invest in individual sessions before attempting any sort of home program or group classes.
3. Keep in mind that nothing should be painful during an exercise. If you feel pain, stop doing the exercise and inform your instructor immediately so he or she can help you modify the exercise to eliminate pain.
Do you know of a woman recovering from breast cancer surgery? Send her my way or forward this article to her. I am happy to meet her for an initial consultation to discuss how Pilates can benefit her.