Why Pilates? My post injury reflections
Updated: Aug 16
I love Pilates. I love the feeling of length and connection after a great workout, feeling space in my joints and the unwinding of tight muscles. After 19 years of teaching I am regularly reminded that Pilates is amazing for injury prevention, physical therapy, post rehab and a safe workout while healing.
I became a Pilates teacher because my body loved the movement. I became a studio owner because I wanted more people to feel fabulous in their bodies. My appreciation has only grown this month. When life throws you physical challenges, the strength Pilates provides is essential to carry you through. I often find myself explaining to friends or future clients that while I may be a studio owner and instructor, my value in this work comes from a deeply personal experience. I was introduced to Pilates after injuring my back while playing collegiate Volleyball. I was forced to step back and assess my body. Through my teacher training and practice, I discovered how little I knew about alignment and form and how different my years of training would have been had I better understood body mechanics. I learned the hard way how important correct form is for longevity in sports. Pilates taught me how to recover from my injuries, correct my poor movement habits and build a healthier foundation of strength. It has made me stronger in my body than I ever was as a college athlete and dancer.
Last month I was warming up on a stationary bike preparing to boulder with my children. I was thankful to have the strength and confidence in my body to actively play with them. Just 5 minutes later I joined them on the Ninja Warrior Warped wall. Why not give it a try? One step on the steep wall was all it took for my Achilles to say no thank you. I went from feeling great to surgery 2 days later for repair of a fully ruptured Achilles. The surgery was 21 years to the week after my spine surgery and caused my thoughts to run wild. There are all the typical emotions of frustration, anger, pain and sadness. The one continuous emotion has been feeling grateful for Pilates. In the weeks immediately following surgery my body and brain were desperate for exercise. Exercise is essential for emotional relief.
Fortunately Pilates offers the most
amazing modifications and creativity to safely exercise with an injury. When we hear from clients that they need to cancel because of an injury, our honest response is to come to the studio, to move your body and stay strong. The mental relief found from movement can be as crucial as the physical.
Anyone who’s had an injury knows that daily movements are no joke. Limiting use of any limb requires extra work and effort on the whole body. Every time I had to hop across a room, do repeated single leg squats to sit down or twist and bend to reach something, I felt relief that I could count on my body. Pilates builds this confidence in your strength, balance and control. It gives you the skills needed to manage and maneuver your body through challenges. While I’ve needed help from family, friends and even clients while teaching, I knew what I could do and trusted my body to help me manage.
Along with frustration from an injury comes fear of being able to return to full movement and activity. The first step in my boot brought tears of doubt for running and jumping. While my back injury ended my collegiate career it also set me on a path to a new relationship with my body and alignment. It’s currently hard to imagine dancing when walking barefoot is my current goal, but I do know the healing power of our bodies.
Fortunately Pilates is an extraordinary form of rehabilitation. The challenge of the springs, hands on assistance for form, and integration of the body all contribute to a powerful opportunity to heal and possibly be better than ever. I for one can not wait to get my toes on the footbar.
Over the years I have seen many impressive recoveries from injuries. I’ve experienced the renewal Pilates provided for myself and other mamas postpartum. I have witnessed clients age but not decline and I continue to be amazed at the many benefits of intelligent movement. I always encourage others to empower themselves through knowledge of strength. Pilates is about owning your body. While I have no desire to summit the warped wall, I do have faith that I will get back to dancing, running and playing and the amazing team we have at Monarch will help me get there.
Like my first injury setting me on my professional path, many people have mentioned this experience will add to my skill set. I have always emphasized the importance of feet and ankles and would have been happy to further my knowledge without this injury, but It does inspire a need to tell others to take charge of their strength and most importantly help them get there! Because Pilates is just outright amazing!