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Ask the Expert: Breast Cancer Survivors

Q: I have a client who is recovering from breast cancer. Could you give me some ideas on what exercises are going to be beneficial and which ones are to be avoided?

A: ROM and low-load strength and endurance exercises are best. Create mobility, restore posture and develop core strength and peripheral strength to balance out the muscular imbalances created from the surgeries. 

Breathing is very important and helps assist the lymphatic cycle.

Preliminary client intake data is key. When you are working with private clients or when conducting group classes for breast cancer survivors, make sure that all participants have a doctor’s approval to begin an exercise program.

It’s important to note that there are many different types of treatments, some allow a participant to be active throughout and others have very specific guidelines on activity levels and which activities are appropriate and when. Be aware of what treatment the client has gone through and educate yourself on the potential side effects.

Be sure to find out if they are taking any medications. Some medication for breast cancer patients will affect the joints and muscles resulting in soreness and tenderness. With the many types of medication on the market and the constant influx of new ones, it’s almost impossible for a Pilates professional to know about the specific drugs and the possible effects on the patient. Don’t feel you need to be an expert on medications. You are a Pilates expert, not a doctor or a nurse.  

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