Pilates-Based Exercise Improves Upper Extremity Problems in Breast Cancer Patients

It is well documented in the medical literature that breast cancer treatment, particularly surgery and radiation, contribute to upper extremity impairments, including decreased motion, weakness and difficulty doing usual functional tasks. A recent study examined the effectiveness of Pilates-based exercises, compared to combined exercise and home exercise as part of the rehabilitation of shoulder and arm issues for patients going through breast cancer treatment. Fifty-five patients were randomly allocated to one of the three groups: Pilates-based, combined exercise class and home program. The study was 8 weeks long and the Pilates-based and combined groups met three days per week for 40-45 minutes.

The combined exercise class consisted of strengthening, stretching and range of motion exercises with a physical therapist. The home exercise group was instructed to do these same exercises at home. Pain, range of motion, strength and function were evaluated before and after the 8 week intervention.

There were significant improvements in almost all parameters in both the Pilates-based and Combined Exercise group, and more significant improvements than in the home exercise group. This study showed that Pilates-based exercise results in significant improvement in upper extremity issues. There are, of course, many other benefits of Pilates-based exercise for breast cancer patients including Core strength and Balance.

TurningPoint offers weekly Pilates classes with a Physical Therapist who is both an expert in breast cancer rehabilitation and a certified Pilates instructor. Pilates may be a great adjunct to your rehabilitation plan to help you get back to the things you love to do!

Alpozgen AZ et al. Effectiveness of Pilates-based exercises on upper extremity disorders related with breast cancer treatment. Eur J Cancer Care (Engl). 2016 Jun 23. doi: 10.1111/ecc.12532. [Epub ahead of print]