Sunday, March 2, 2014

Pilates: A Tool to Help Me Keep Walking

     For the three years that I have been recovering, I've heard from my surgeons and physical therapists, "Core and glutes, Carey, core and glutes."   Meaning, I  needed to strengthen these muscle groups in order to walk and stay walking.  There has been one big problem with that.  By the time I have been released to start working on this after each surgery, I had to gear up for the next one. 

     Irregardless, I would always try.

     I spent the majority of the first sixteen months after my collision in a wheelchair and many months of the second year using a walker or a cane.   It was no small feat relaxing my body from the wheelchair shape it became accustomed to.  My surgeon also relinquished the information that if I gained thirty pounds, I would be sitting back in the seat of my metal friend that rolled me around.  No pressure there, right?  Luckily my parents blessed me with good  genetics and so far I have not had to work on the weight issue.  The nausea that comes with my medications adds to that factor as well.  

      Realizing that many of the exercises my therapists were giving me were Pilates, I purchased a few DVDs for home use.  To this day I still cannot perform many exercises standing, so I prefer Pilates on the Mat.  Although I need to gain muscle strength around my injuries, bulking up with it is not an option for me.  Muscle is heavy and adding too much would get me closer to that thirty pounds I do not want to see.

     Difficulty is an understatement to how hard it is to stretch my body back out after each surgery.  The first year of therapy trying to accomplish this was impossible and as I recall, painful.  To the confusion of my therapist, I would  expel a laugh/sob sound as he torqued my body into positions it clearly did not relish.

     I am not one to wait on progress so using the DVDs at home helped propel me forward at a faster pace.  Each of the DVD sets I purchased came with three sessions.  Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced.   For the first time in my life, I was a Beginner.  Physically, I could do anything I wanted before my injuries.  I, now, have many limitations.  Mentally, this has been a huge challenge and acceptance issue for myself. 

     Pilates builds strength without excess bulk.  Long term use creates a sleek, toned body.   It improves flexibility, agility and economy of motion.  It can even help alleviate back pain.  This has been an obvious innovative and safe choice for me.  
                                                         Body Wisdom
     Now that I have been blessed with what is hopefully my last surgery for quite some time, I have been released to start engaging in physical activity.  Pulling out the DVDs, I participate in 30-50 minutes of Pilate's each morning.  After the first two weeks, the pain of stretching out my muscles decreases and I start feeling the benefits.  It's pretty rough at the start, but having been through this on multiple occasions, I ascertain that I must push through if I want a certain percentage of mobility.  At least up to my standards.
 Windsor Pilates
     Admittedly, I was mentally frustrated with Pilates at the start of my recovery.  The types of exercise that I engaged in BEFORE, were high impact and very physical.  No longer able to jump, squat, run or even walk fast made the Pilates decision easy.  Moving beyond the beginners phase and into the intermediate and even short advanced sessions, I comprehend that Pilates can kick my butt just as much as that P90x DVD.  

     If I continue to live a healthy lifestyle and preserve my body strength, then I will enjoy 8-10 more years before I must consider another surgery or handicapped apparatus.  It sucks a little bit to think about or maybe it sucks a lot, but we are finally talking in years instead of months.  

     Working hard is ingrained in my personal being, along with persistence and perseverance.  Knowing I will never have it easy keeps me in my place.  Apparently it is going to keep me healthy as well!  Exercise has become as much a mental thanksgiving as physical.  If you happen to see me working out on the playground equipment near my child's sporting practice or riding my bike around town, I am not only creating natural muscle but mental as well. 
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