I was recommended to try Pilates by my Osteopath as a method of strengthening my core. I had been suffering from a back injury for over year and had little or no success with physiotherapy or trying to cope with the problem by myself. I have been with the Body in Mind Pilates studio for over two years and I cannot believe the transformation it has made to my body but also to the why I live my life.
I had suffered a great amount of pain and discomfort caused by the herniated disc in my lower back. This caused me to almost put my life on hold trying to battle through the pain. Through Pilates I have learned new ways in which to strengthen my core and relieve the pressure on my back. My body has adapted to cope with my injury, and I have been given exercises to rebalance and strengthen areas of weakness.
I find Pilates a very calming and relaxing method of training, before which I was always a person who put a lot of pressure into everything I did, always trying to lift too much or run too fast to gain the edge. After a two year break from other exercise and sporting activity, I am now back playing Ice Hockey, a sport very close to my heart. If I had been asked two years ago if I would see myself playing again I wouldn’t have dreamt it.
I discussed my aim of returning to play hockey with my instructor and how I could use Pilates to strengthen the areas that are most used. Through this I have been able to create a programme to suit to my individual needs, targeting areas I feel need work.
After the first session back playing I felt the benefits of the training. I had a more balanced and powerful skating stride. My core stability on the puck was greater, giving me more speed, and my upper body flexibility gave me a quicker and harder shot. Even off the ice I now use Pilates in my gym sessions to enhance my workout and as a method of relaxing after a hard/stressful day at work.
Through Pilates I am more focused and stronger in my own body than I have ever been, even before my injury. I also have a more positive out look on life knowing that I look and feel great about myself. Before I started Pilates I was a young man in a poorly conditioned body with very little self-esteem and in a great deal of pain. Two years later after a long and hard road I have become a confident person with strong core body strength who is in touch with his body. I have never felt fitter and with a more positive out look on life and now strive to meet any and all challenges.
Just into the new millennium, I was at the peak of my physical fitness. Whilst mountaineering in Scotland however, disaster struck. Low back pain from a work injury suddenly flared up with a vengeance. I awoke to find I had lost large areas of sensation below my waist, my legs were weak and my balance severely impaired. I had suffered a massive paracentral disc prolapse at L4/5, and the extruded disc material was compressing the nerve roots. I underwent emergency surgery, however this only served to halt the compression not improve the symptoms.
Three months after, another piece of the same disc prolapsed and I was operated on a second time. Further surgery simply compounded matters with scar tissue constricting the nerve roots, causing intense nerve pain as well as simple mechanical back pain. I had what medics know literally as ‘failed back syndrome’. The next two years I spent in abject misery. Virtually bed ridden for six months, unable to sit or stand for any amount of time, unable to drive. Weekly hydrotherapy and the pain clinic kept me limping on. In all other respects the medical services had seemingly written me off, as I had myself.
Together with two studio sessions, I attend a mat class every week. It has proven to be the best physiotherapy I could ever have imagined. When I took my first class, I had a permanent limp, was stooped over in pain and could hike five to six miles very slowly with the aid of two sticks. Within three months my limp was gone, my posture erect and I was mountain walking again. Pilates has proved to be the key to open all the doors I thought were forever closed to me. Six months down the line I returned to my greatest love: rock climbing. With a greater body awareness and core strength provided by Pilates I am now climbing harder grades than I ever had done pre-injury. Although chronic pain is still an issue for me, it is now a manageable part of my life, rather than the overriding factor it was. Pilates has given me a life worth living again.