Reformer Pilates for Breast Cancer Survivors

Nov 10, 2018

The breast is more than a pair of soft round parts of a female chest. Socially speaking, it is a symbol of femininity, sexuality and maternity.

But what if this organ is symbolic for women who go through invasive surgery and one or both of them have to be removed?

Most likely, it’s going to have a challenging impact on a female physically and mentally.

How Breast Cancer Affects a Female’s Life

Breast cancer usually occurs in women over 40 years old. But recently, younger women are increasingly being diagnosed with it. Because of this, surgery and chemotherapy are getting more relevant in younger females.

A female being treated for breast cancer goes through many complex situations that require adaptations for her physical and mental improvement.

Despite women surviving longer when diagnosed early, the treatment leaves adverse effects including less functional capacity, fatigue, depression, low immunity and loss of flexibility, all of which, affect the quality of life.

After treatment, it can be challenging for someone to get up and move. But it is important to do so. Exercising post-treatment can provide many benefits including:

  • Maintaining or improving strength and flexibility
  • Preventing muscles from wasting
  • Improving self-esteem
  • Making you less dependent on others for help with regular activities
  • Improving your quality of life

And the list goes on.

How Reformer Pilates Can Help

Reformer Pilates aims to help in relieving symptoms. In cancer patients, it can help restore functionality, improve performance in everyday activities and help reduce fatigue and improve quality of life.

Reformer Pilates may be a great complementary intervention to standard treatment. It encourages mind-body connection through its principles such as breathing, concentration, body alignment, precision, control, rhythm and endurance.

A person with breast cancer can work from her core and build strength and flexibility. Deep breathing enlivens, lessens stress and also works the core muscles. Strengthening core muscles through Pilates also helps with good posture. Because it is a good core and flexibility exercise, it allows more stability and freedom in daily movements. Additionally, having a good posture helps a female feel more confident.

A 2017 study in the Journal of Breast Health showed that Pilates increased quality of life, improved upper extremity functions and reduced lymphedema (swelling in the limbs) in people with breast cancer who practised It. The researchers also found that Pilates is more effective than standard exercises for relieving lymphedema symptoms. Clinical Pilates exercises could be considered a safe model and would contribute to treatment programs [1].

Roberta Espindula and colleagues reviewed 5 studies and observed significant improvements in the Pilates groups compared to home-based exercises. Also, in the individual studies, they observed improvements in range of motion, pain and fatigue.

Individual studies show that Pilates is better than home-based exercises and no exercise. The studies also showed that Pilates or home-based exercise is better than no exercise on fatigue, range of motion, mood and it doesn’t cause risks. The researchers wrote that Pilates should be encouraged for women with breast cancer [2].

During and after treatment, it is important for females to keep active as much as they can. We can’t stress enough the importance of exercise. Not only does it improve the side effects of treatment but also it is the key to long-term survival. Working out your body helps to make you feel strong and more confident. Reformer Pilates is a great way to do that.

The good thing is at Best Body, we have Reformer Pilates instructors who are well-trained in working with appropriate modifications for all types of clients including breast cancer patients and survivors.

A popular quote on the internet says, “No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, show up, and never give up.” Breast cancer shouldn’t be a reason to be down.

Achieve a healthy and happy lifestyle with Reformer Pilates at Best Body in Perth. 

Click here to book a complimentary Pilates Body Assessment today.



  1. Şener HÖ, Malkoç M, Ergin G, Karadibak D, Yavuzşen T. Effects of Clinical Pilates Exercises on Patients Developing Lymphedema after Breast Cancer Treatment: A Randomized Clinical Trial. J Breast Health. 2017;13(1):16-22. Published 2017 Jan 1. doi:10.5152/tjbh.2016.3136
  2. Espíndula RC, Nadas GB, Rosa MID, Foster C, Araújo FC, Grande AJ. Pilates for breast cancer: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Rev Assoc Med Bras (1992). 2017 Nov;63(11):1006-1012. doi: 10.1590/1806-9282.63.11.1006.