Updated: Oct 4, 2019
Yes, it is true, I love Pilates. But I didn't always do Pilates or even know what it was. Pilates is something that needed to happen to me. I've never considered it a sport or a regular gym workout, probably because of how it was introduced. It is much more than that. It is one of the most effective self-care practices you can do for the body.
I've seen pilates change many peoples lives. It ensures you are using your stabilising muscles. This takes away pain by improving posture and allowing the body to move the way it was intended.
"Pilates is a personal journey".
MY INTRODUCTION TO PILATES:
Pilates came to me after a few unsuccessful months of physio, cortisone injections and frustration. You see, I was at my whit's end.
Let me take a step back. I began a health journey month's earlier. I was early 20's, fit as a fiddle, knee-deep into a career in the air force. It started with a random meditation class on mental health day. If you signed up to the various programs you got to take part during work time. So there I was, lying on the floor in the middle of a sea of older people. We were told to lay down flat on our backs and close our eyes.
Getting down wasn't the hard part. Closing my eyes felt like it was time to relax. It was about 7 minutes in and it hit me... I needed to bend my knees. My back was killing me!
I tried to fight it. I looked around to see no one else struggling with this position. We were only lying flat on the floor for goodness sake!
The instructor came over and told me to stop moving. I bent my knees and tried not to make any more sound. People were looking at me, I was so embarrassed.
Why did other people not have a problem? I was the youngest in the room. Why was this happening to me?
After my first few physio sessions, I realised this was not too long after a 5-month stint in Afghanistan. I had come back with a war injury. Not a typical one though. For those of you who know me, you would agree if I do something it is always in an odd way. I had lower back pain from sitting too much. Ha! Yep, that's me, the girl who went to war and sat too much.
I tried 2 different physios and had a GP managing my case. We had tried traction, ultrasound, hot/cold therapy, completely restricting my exercise and injecting my spine with corticosteroids. The best answers I got were:
Linked to stress
Too much exercise
Granted, I did have poor posture, I was stressed and I did do a lot. This didn't help my problem. Massage helped for a day or so but it always returned. I didn't feel like I had made much progress.
It wasn't until my GP suggested trying Pilates guided by a physio that I noticed a change.
I went to one on one clinical Pilates classes with a physio who made me realise just how much core I was missing, even after all those sit-ups. I was hopeless at stabilising my lower spine and couldn't get my glutes (butt muscles) to turn on. The challenge was set. I knew this would be the key I was looking for.
We started slowly with just a few exercises that I could add to my current workout routine. This physio did not want to restrict my movement, which I thought was great! Finally, someone who was willing to work with me. As we worked through the exercises I noticed my body starting to change. No longer did running feel incredibly uncomfortable and my posture improved. It took a few months for me to meet my goal, to lay flat on the floor painless. At 6 months, I was even able to touch my toes, I had never been able to do that! I continued to progress with the movements. My pain slowly eased and together with regular massage, I still manage it today.
ME AND PILATES NOW:
7 years later I know Pilates to be the most useful tool for lower back and many other types of pain that I can share with others.
My Pilates comes from a place of providing pain relief with the movements. I am ecstatic that I can teach others. I still have a long way to go with my personal Pilates journey but I hope I can positively influence yours as well.
Pilates doesn’t just help relieve back pain.
If you are just starting your journey or are already a Pilates enthusiast please share where you are in your journey below.