Pilates for Breast Cancer Recovery

Exercising after breast cancer surgery is often the last thing you may feel like doing. Cancer wreaks havoc on the body and between weight gain, muscle atrophy, fatigue and premature bone loss women are left feeling physically challenged by even normal daily activities. Nonetheless, recent studies prove that moderate physical exercise can be incredibly beneficial for breast cancer survivors.

When it comes to choosing a safe and effective exercise program for survivors, Pilates covers all the bases. The exercise method has its roots in physical therapy and was created by Joseph Pilates during the 1920s to rehabilitate bedridden soldiers from WW1. The principles of Pilates were, and still remain, focused on breathing, core strength, shoulder and pelvic stability.


Pilates both during and after treatment can help to alleviate pain and restore energy, joint mobility, tissue integrity and overall strength. In particular for breast cancer survivors, Pilates breath-work can encourage proper lymphatic drainage.

The benefits of Pilates go beyond the physical – many women report feeling emotionally recharged after class.  Movement after invasive surgery is empowering and can help alleviate feelings of depression, getting you back to a feeling of normalcy. It is well documented that exercise releases endorphins or “happy hormones,” which elevate mood.

In sum, here is a list of benefits from participating in a Pilates program during and after breast cancer surgery.



  • Improved lymphatic drainage with proper breathing techniques
  • restored postural alignment and balance
  • improved shoulder girdle mechanics to help breakdown scar tissue and frozen shoulder
  • restored overall range of motion, flexibility, strength and endurance
  • enhanced core strength and endurance
  • improved overall body awareness
  • re-established muscular firing patterns
  • reduced both physiological and emotional stress
  • increased self-confidence and overall well-being

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