Pilates and Breast Cancer

An Article by Naomi Aaronson
Pilates is a gentle form of exercise that engages the mind, body, and spirit. The various Pilates exercises help develop muscular flexibility and strength while increasing me­tabolism and promoting lymphatic, respiratory, and circulatory func­tion. They improve balance and co­ordination and also help you relax and “get centered.” Pilates is able to meet you where you are, and it can be done throughout your life and wherever you are, even while seat­ed. For these reasons it is an excel­lent approach to healing for breast cancer survivors.
Beth has found with her Pilates practice.
◾You can do Pilates in many different positions: on the back,on the stomach, side-lying, standing, and seated.
◾The exercises and equipment can be modified for any level.
◾You will be able to use the affected arm(s) more easily and naturally because Pilates is a whole-body exercise system that includes the arms and legs in the movements.
◾The principles help you live in the moment by keeping you focused on moving properly, with control and without momentum.
◾Deep rib cage breathing and the multidimensional breathing patterns help ease tension, encourage lymphatic drainage, and stretch tight areas affected by scars.
◾Pilates provides a gentle introduction or reintroduction to exercise.
◾Pilates increases muscle strength, especially in the back of the shoulders and the middle back, where you need it after breast cancer surgery.
◾Pilates increases your ability to perform activities of daily living as you build core strength, allowing you to more easily roll over and move from different positions.
◾Pilates improves muscle proprioception (the reception of stimuli) and kinesthesia (awareness of the position and movement of the parts of the body by means of sensory organs) in the muscles and joints; these sensations are often lost after surgery, when nerves and muscles may have been inadvertently cut.
◾Pilates strengthens the transverse abdominis, a muscle that is very important for back stability and strength after a TRAM (transverse rectus abdominis myocutaneous) flap or DIEP (deep inferior epigastric perforator) flap breast reconstruction procedure.
◾Pilates can help with bladder control problems such as stress incontinence, a common complication of menopause.

Pilates takes the focus off the damaged areas of your body and what you cannot do and rein­forces what you can do. You will appreciate all the movement your body is capable of, no matter how small or limited at first, and its capacity to heal.

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