Pilates Helps Power Recovery for Breast Cancer Patient

By Chelsea Streifeneder | Featured on  Poughkeepsie Journal 

Pilates and cancer. Not two things we would think go together; however, they go together just like peanut butter and jelly, believe it or not.

Unfortunately, in one way or another, we all have been either personally affected or know someone who has or had some type of cancer. These past few years we have had more and more people come into the studio with cancer, either before, during and/or after treatment and surgeries. All of these people amaze me! They show up, do the work and always come back for more.

Movement and exercise can be hard enough for healthy people, let alone those living with cancer. This past October my team and I participated in and completed The Pink Ribbon Program. This program has been created to enhance the recovery for breast cancer patients and uses Pilates-based exercises to help stretch and strengthen shoulder, chest and back areas to help improve range of motion, and to strengthen those areas most affected by breast cancer surgery, treatment and reconstruction. Rehabilitation is key and often missing in the treatment of breast cancer, so this is where we come in as Pilates instructors. I am not saying that Pilates should replace physical therapy, but rather complement it. Both focus on retraining the connections between muscles, joints, the brain and nervous system. So clients that do both side by side see tremendous benefits and a Pilates program can also help build on all the physical therapy that has already been completed.

Many of my clients, including Samantha Laird of New York City who weekends in the Hudson Valley, started with me before being diagnosed with cancer. We all know that whether or not we have cancer exercise is important for a healthy lifestyle. To get the most out of your exercise and movement program, you need to make it a habit and something you can commit to for the long-term. I tell all my clients to set some realistic goals, since it is much better to start small and be consistent than try to do too much and stop. These are the same “rules” I give to cancer clients. There are so many modifications and variations with Pilates that it is beneficial to get at least some movement in than none at all.

The great thing with Samantha is that she never stopped working out and moving. After her chemo was complete, she was religious about coming two to three times a week for her private sessions. Of course, before each session, we talked about how she was feeling and evaluated what was going on with her body. Sometimes she felt fatigued and stressed; however, one of the best things about Pilates is that it can be relaxing and energizing all at the same time. Being able to increase energy levels and to reduce stress are super important during this time as well as they are for most of us anytime.

“I think it is so important to continue with your regular routine as much as you can during and after treatment,” Samantha said. “All studies suggest that exercise not only ameliorates the effects of chemotherapy, but also is key to long-term survival. The great thing with Pilates is that each one of my sessions is directly targeted toward my body and me and how I am feeling on that specific day. Working out my whole body also makes me feel strong and more confident.”

Of course, we ask all clients for a medical release from their doctor, and some clients are able to start as early as two to four weeks after surgery. There are a lot of potential concerns after having surgery — pain, exhaustion, sickness, fear and a low immune system. However, with a consistent Pilates practice, we are able to see huge improvement with range of motion in the arm and shoulder, increased posture and strength, and increased endurance.

After her double mastectomy, Samantha said she plans to continue her Pilates practice.

“I am confident that after surgery, a consistent Pilates practice will help me get back on my feet quickly and be able to resume my normal life with independence and confidence.”

If you’re looking for pilates in Hillsboro, Oregon, look no further than Balance Massage + Core Fitness Studio. We are a fully equipped massage and fitness practice located in downtown Hillsboro. Our core fitness studio features STOTT Pilates®, the gold standard in Pilates training, using specialized equipment. We offer 20 group fitness classes per week, including Zumba, Zenga, and Total Barre, as well as private instruction from our highly qualified team. Much of our massage practice is focused on injury recovery, relief from pain, and car accident and workers compensation rehabilitation. We also provide a variety of massage treatments purely for relaxation and rejuvenation.

Whether you enjoy the attention of one-on-one private training, or the excitement of a group fitness class, Balance Massage & Core Fitness Studio has the right training options to help you meet your fitness, physical therapy, and relaxation goals.

Balance Massage and Core Fitness Studio

233 SE Washington Street, Suite 103
Hillsboro, Oregon 97123

Phone: 503.352.9685
Email: info@balance-mf.com