Pilates + Breast Cancer Recovery

Breast Cancer is one of the most common cancers out there. According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, in Australia, around 1000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, equivalent to about 3 young women each day.

After a diagnosis is made, extra treatments such as chemotherapy, surgery or radiation may be needed. During this time, it is important to look after yourself. This can be done by reducing working hours, taking adequate rest, eating, and sleeping better as well as doing some gentle exercise.

Exercise is something that is very underestimated. Doctors say that if exercise were made into a pill, it would be the most common and beneficial drug prescribed.

Why You Should Stay Active During Your Treatment Cycle

Physical activity plays a big role in living a healthy life. Supporting evidence say that exercise during cancer treatments can help decrease symptoms, recover faster, and helps to stay healthier through your cancer journey.

Chemotherapy is the main form of treatment which can leave you with some nasty side effects, the major one being fatigue. Some other reasons why exercise can help while undergoing treatments are

  • Helps improve blood flow
  • Decreases joint pain and stiffness
  • Decreases muscle tightness
  • Helps manage fatigue
  • Improves sleep pattern
  • Increases mood
  • Helps with cardiovascular fitness
  • Increases strength throughout treatment

What Types Of Exercise Should I Be Doing During By Cancer Recovery?

Any exercise that you enjoy doing is worth maintaining during your treatments (maybe avoid some extreme sports like cross country skiing).

A cancer trained physio would probably recommend doing low impact forms of exercise.

This includes activities like:

  • Pilates
  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Cycling
  • Yoga

These types of exercise are great because it will challenge your body without putting too much stress on your joints and nervous system. 

Why Should I Choose Pilates Over Other Forms Of Exercise

At Phyx. Physio and Pilates, we take a particular interest in Pilates. This is because Pilates is a diverse, low impact way to exercise that allows you to stretch and strengthen your entire body.

It is based on six Pilates principals which are designed to challenge your body in a safe and controlled way. If you are interested in learning more about Pilates, have a look at our blog on the 6 principles of Pilates.

Pilates can benefit anyone, however there is a lot of research that supports Pilates as a way of rehabilitation specifically after having breast cancer surgery.

These include a

  • Single or Bilateral Mastectomy
  • Lumpectomy
  • Breast reconstruction surgery

How Often Should I Do Pilates

Pilates can be done as much or as little as you like. If you are new to Pilates we like to recommend starting with 1 session a week. As you get stronger you can progress this to 2-4 sessions to see great results.

When Is The Best Time To Start Pilates For Cancer Rehabilitation

Whether you have just been diagnosed with breast cancer or are 20 years post mastectomy, it is never too early or late to start Pilates for cancer rehabilitation.

If you are undergoing chemo or radiation at the same time as starting Pilates, your cancer trained physio will be able to work with you to schedule your Pilates appointments on the best days of your cycle to maximise your energy levels.

If you are someone who has finished your cancer treatments for breast cancer, but still gets tightness, pain, or lack of movement around your cancer site, your physio will be able to give you Pilates specific exercises to help reduce your pain and increase your strength and mobility.


I hope this post has been of some help!

If you or someone you know has had breast cancer and would benefit from pilates. Please get in touch and send us an email at info@phyxphysio.com.au

Physio Zeenia Amro

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