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Natural Awakenings Northwest Florida

Barbara Bruni on Pilates for Breast Cancer Patients

Exercise has numerous benefits to our physical and psychological health, from increasing our strength, flexibility, mood and self-esteem to reducing stress, depression and anxiety. Yet some of the people who could use those benefits the most—women who have or are recovering from breast cancer—most choose exercises that accommodate the fascial restrictions and loss of soft-tissue “glide” caused by radiation and surgery.

Originally designed as a rehabilitative tool, Pilates is uniquely safe and effective for breast cancer patients, says Barbara Bruni, owner of Pilates Core Training, in Pensacola. She notes the following reasons:


  • Pilates exercises can be done in many positions.
  • The exercises and equipment can be easily modified.
  • Deep ribcage breathing eases tension, facilitates lymph drainage, stretches tight areas from scarring and adhesions, and centers the focus.
  • Pilates strengthens the upper and mid-back and low abdominals, speeding recovery from breast cancer surgery.
  • It helps rebuild proprioception and awareness after nerves and muscles have been cut.
  • It helps patients focus on what they can do versus what they can’t do.
  • It improves posture, allowing for freedom of movement and a greater sense of well-being.  
  • Pilates instructors are trained to address small-movement compensations.

“Three recent studies between 2008 and 2012 have shown that Pilates increased shoulder range of motion, overall strength and flexibility and quality of life, while decreasing pain, fatigue and depression,” Bruni says.

Pilates is also an excellent complement to physical therapy, she adds. “Pilates takes over where physical therapy leaves off. Breast cancer survivors can continue to make gains in strength, flexibility and symmetry.”

For more information, or to view Eve Gentry and the Power of Pilates, a historical video about a professional dancer who worked with Joseph Pilates after cancer surgery, call Barbara Bruni, Pilates Core Training at 850-287-5836.

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