Fitness Design Solutions

My Pilates Story

My Pilates Story

The proof is in the Practice.

In the winter of 2006, my left knee joint was punctured in a car accident. Fortunately no one else was injured and the structure of my knee was relatively unaffected. I had around twenty stiches in my knee and my leg was wrapped with a compression bandage keeping my knee straight for two weeks while the wound healed. When the stitches came out I could lift my left leg about 2 inches off the floor in front of me and it did not bend without significant pain. Also the difference in the muscle of my left leg was visibly less than that of the right. After only TWO WEEKS. So for anyone out there that is recovering from an injury or surgery where you have not been using a limb to its full extent of use for longer than 2 weeks and working through recovery, believe me when I say I feel for you and empathize. When I left the orthopedist’s office that day I was told to do 100 seated leg lifts a day to strengthen my upper leg and come back in 2 weeks with the ability to bend that leg. I was a Pilate’s instructor I knew what to do.

During the next two weeks, I taught mat classes (many of my students acted as models for the exercises I could not demonstrate) and I worked with my private clients. While I also struggled to get dressed and drive my car back and forth to the club where I taught. At the end of each day my knee was twice the size of a normal knee, but it was slowly improving. I went back to the doctor 2 weeks later. When the doctor came in my knee was bent to 90 degrees. I could sit on the edge of the table with my lower leg hanging straight down (it hurt to do it, but I was doing it!) Progress right, not bad after two weeks?

Wrong. I got a good talking to; I was supposed to be bent to 120 degrees. I now was ordered to physical therapy and was to return in 3 weeks with a knee bending to 120 degrees. In the words of my doctor, I was not pushing to enough pain. It was going to hurt and I needed to work through it.

Big flashing note here for the reader… MY knee was structurally sound. Important point. The muscles were a bit “frozen” due to their lack of use. The Pain I experienced was muscle pain NOT joint pain. I did and still do have some nerve involvement, so my nerve pain while valid, was not an indication of doing damage to my leg or knee joint. In order to move past it, I basically had to move through it. I make this distinction, because not every injury is the same or can be managed by just muscling through. That was the express direction of my doctor and if you came to see me I would require the same doctor clearance to insure the safety and efficacy in a program. Now back to our story.

In the 3 weeks that followed I saw my chiropractor for ultrasound to break up my scar tissue and keep my knee in good alignment and I got to work on bending my knee through more pain using the Pilates apparatus available to me in my work. Please don’t get me wrong, I’m an advocate of Physical Therapy I recommend it to people post injury or with acute issues that may benefit from all the tools they have in the tool kits. Since I was getting the therapeutic ultrasound at my chiros office I did not need to seek that elsewhere and I had the ability to use the resources I used with my clients to do the rehab movement piece on my own.

Bit of a long story short (thanks for hanging with it this long.), I went back to the doctor and he asked where I went for therapy, I told him about the treatments I was getting at the chiro and the other work I had done. I was accused of ignoring his order for therapy and was ordered to lie down so he could check my knee. I did protest and said I did not ignore his order, I took it very much to heart and had achieved what he asked for. He measured my knee flexion and drumroll…. It was just past 120 degrees. He said ok then well you got to where I wanted you to get. He then proceeded to tell me that for most people if they do not make significant progress with mobility of an injured joint within 6 weeks of being cleared for exercise the chance that mobility will NEVER be recovered is extremely high.

While I managed to get that knee bent to 120 degrees within 5 weeks of my stitches being removed, it took about 6 months before there was no more swelling and the significant limp was gone. About 6 weeks after my accident I told my brother I wanted to be like Kevin Spacey at the end of the Usual Suspects. (Spoiler alert if you haven’t seen it, really it is a classic you should check it out.) My brothers reply was “This is a not a movie and you are not Keyser Söze.”

It was about a year after that before I could wear anything other than flat shoes. For those that know me already, you may know I love shoes. I grew up dancing in heeled tap shoes and even though I know those crazy heels out there today are not great for my feet and back on a daily basis, I do love them. It was another couple of years later before my knee could support running of any kind. Prior to my accident and prior to finding Pilates I had run the Marine Corp Marathon and acquired a few injuries along that journey (another story for another time). With Pilates and post-accident I have run Disney and many half marathons and shorter races just to keep my cardio in order, ALL without injury or pain.

For me, Pilates and Yoga have changed the way I walk and the way I run and strengthened and stretched my muscles in a way that has made my ability to do the things I love to do and those things that I might not love, but are good for me none the less, possible. And for that I am truly grateful.

Let me know how Pilates and Yoga has or might benefit you or make a difference in how you get out and enjoy the world around you.

Why I do what I do.

Habits are invisible. Movement just happens. You don't actively think about how to stand up and walk across a room. Right?? Unless a foot or knee or hip are not working as they should then it can be tough or downright painful.

The human body is an amazing instrument and everyone’s is different. Some people have long limbs and short torsos, some have long torsos and short limbs, some are lean and naturally muscular, others work hard to build strength and even harder to gain and maintain flexibility, while more still have such flexibility in their elbows, knees, shoulders and hips that the muscles need to work overtime to protect them from injury. Or more commonly learn how to recover.

Pilates and Yoga Therapy are tools I have used to rehab injuries for myself and post-rehab with my clients. I know what it is like to work through an injury. It is extremely rewarding to guide my clients on their path to strengthen, re-balance, and improve their overall functional fitness.

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