Blog: Benefits of Pilates on Cancer Patients

The first Breast Cancer Patient to benefit from Pilates was Eve Gentry. Eve was a modern dancer and a protege of Joseph Pilates.  Eve underwent a radical mastectomy in 1955. Her surgery was so invasive that she was unable to lift her arms. With the help of Joseph Pilates guiding her through his specifically designed training method, she was able to return to dance within the year.  This training method was later to become known as “Pilates”. Eve went on to study under Joseph Pilates and eventually in 1991 became the co-founder of “The Institute for Pilates Method”. She lived to the ripe old age of 84 years of age.

For those living with breast cancer, Pilates can be a very beneficial tool in recovery.  It can help to restore both mind and body. It integrates a low impact exercise whilst emphasizing deep breathing. The regimen strengthens the shoulder girdle, the abdominal, the back and pelvic musculature.

Pilates has been shown to improve lymphatic drainage because it focuses on diaphragmatic breathing. This method of breathing expands the chest and lungs and also causes the deep abdominal muscles to be activated. This in turn assists in pumping lymphatic fluid back towards the center of the body. In addition, Pilates also helps with stress management. It is a well-known fact that deep breathing facilitates the calming of the parasympathetic nervous system, which is the system that controls our natural fight or flight reaction.

Pilates helps strengthen the middle back musculature such as the rhomboids and middle trapezius. Posture is often compromised after breast cancer surgery and Pilates promotes better posture through very specific exercises. This can be very helpful when trying to improve shoulder mobility and function in post-op breast cancer patients. Pilates can be used to accommodate special needs of individual clients with specific considerations and can be performed in several different positions including sitting, standing and lying. 

Our goal at Haley Rehab is for our patients to get back to doing the things they love best.  We aim to achieve the best quality of life possible for you. To learn more about Haley Rehab, or if you wish to schedule an initial assessment, call us at 613-422-5061. No referral is necessary. Please contact us today to see how Haley Rehab can help you achieve wellness.

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