This month around the world, we unite to increase awareness about breast cancer. 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in the US. Most of us have been personally affected by this disease, whether through a neighbor, colleague, loved one, or perhaps first-hand experience. A diagnosis of this illness is life-changing.
Breast cancer is the second most common cancer amongst women; though rare, men can get it too. Treatment can vary, but regardless of the type of therapy administered, a breast cancer diagnosis, its treatment, and then recovery is quite taxing on the individual's physical, mental, and emotional condition.
Studies have shown that Pilates can play an integral role in breast cancer recovery not only for its physical benefits but for boosting self-esteem, confidence, and an overall sense of well-being.
HOW PILATES BENEFITS RECOVERY
Pilates for breast cancer recovery has far-reaching positive benefits, both physically and psychologically. Pilates during recovery has been shown to boost self-esteem, confidence, mood, body image, and a sense of independence and control as one takes an active role in their healing. The Pilates principle of ‘breathing’ connects the breath to the body and movement. Breathing calms the nervous system allowing the body to release tension in the upper extremity and encourage lymphatic drainage to avoid lymphedema.
WHOLE BODY APPROACH
Common side effects of breast cancer treatment include a tremendous loss of physical strength and mobility in the upper body to the point that even mundane daily activities are difficult. The beauty of Pilates is that it is a whole-body exercise system, so even with an emphasis on strengthening and mobilizing the upper body, there is still a connection to core strength, overall alignment, and balancing out the body.
Of course, there are contraindications and precautions regarding exercising during recovery. A specialized program should be followed, focusing on gradually increasing the range of motion through the shoulders and strengthening the back. Progressing too quickly, insufficient rest time between workouts, or adding heavy loads can result in setbacks as well as frustration.