Pilates and Cancer

When I was diagnosed with Cancer I read a lot of material on what I could do for myself in terms of diet, positive attitude, supplements and alternative therapies. Exercise was mentioned as a way of keeping a healthy mind but it wasn’t very specific as to how it may help a body mobilise its defences to fight cancer. There are studies that have shown that certain activities performed at a certain level hinder the progression of certain cancers. Studies that show that cancer patients who exercise fare better than those who don’t. In general the consensus is that exercise is beneficial to overall wellbeing and may increase ones chances of survival.

I am not a cancer expert but I am a cancer survivor.

What I do know is that the effort to sustain life is life affirming. In general a Pilates session prevents my mind from wandering to more negative thoughts. More specifically when I am connected to myself through the simple act of breathing or when I am empowered by my body’s ability to curl, stretch or extend I know I am winning. I experience my strength and I know it starts with a thought or an impulse that sends a message to my cells and to my muscles.  I can help myself by being connected to my life’s energy. I believe that this positive energy flows at a cellular level and is a way for the body to defy those rogue cells, to express the will to live and to fight with all that you have.

As I returned to Pilates post-op it occurred to me that the basic principles of Pilates are very well suited to those living with serious illness.

  • The focus on flow and relaxation is calming and helps alleviate stress. The attention to alignment and posture helps you maintain good movement patterns and improves functional, everyday actions.
  • The specific breathing technique in Pilates focuses the mind, lessening anxiety and is the basis of enabling tight muscles to release. It also helps improve the elasticity of the soft tissue including scar tissue.
  • You may feel protective of certain areas or have pain from surgery. The safe environment of a Pilates class for cancer survivors will help build confidence and enable you to regain good movement progressively.
  • Pilates strengthens your body whether this is pre-surgery, post-op or to cope with chemo cycles. Your body draws on all its resources to cope with every phase of treatment and surgery and the stronger and fitter you are the better you can cope.
  • A cancer diagnosis has a huge impact on self-confidence. Suddenly the body that you have relied on forever is failing you. Recovering your physical ability, improving your posture and your range of motion is an empowering process and provides a huge emotional uplift.
  • The process of cancer treatment can sap your energy enormously and unpredictably. The pace of a Pilates session is steady and the mental focus required increases your vital energy.
  • The socialised physical experience of Pilates promotes positivity and empowerment and can be a valuable source of courage.

The class

The class will last 50 minutes and run as short courses so hopefully most people can manage most classes. The direction and level of the course will be determined by the participants and their specific needs.

All you need is comfortable clothing and your Oncologists approval.

Please download the enrolment form and if necessary give me a call on 07984 190733 to discuss your personal circumstance in more detail.