As a Pilates practitioner, I work with a wide variety of people who choose to do Pilates for vastly different reasons. However, one of the constants throughout the years is a steady stream of people who have been told there is nothing more that can be done for them medically and that the pain they are experiencing is unexplained. The only solution offered to them is pain relief medication and the people I see are searching for something more than a lifelong dependence on medication, that in many cases, isn’t even an adequate solution. This is where Pilates comes in and offers hope to these people and this is why Pilates is often considered “the last resort”. They may get relief from other therapies but it’s only temporary so if Pilates doesn’t work for them, there is nothing else left for them to try, which is a very daunting prospect. Fortunately for the vast majority of people that I have worked with over the years in this situation, Pilates or “their last resort”, has proven to be the solution they were searching for and has given them back their quality of life. I’m now going share with you, the case studies of two people who have experienced life-changing results through Pilates and gone on to achieve their greatest desires in life. Their names have been changed.
Heather was suffering debilitating lower back pain due to 2 lumbar disc bulges compressing a spinal nerve when she started Pilates with me. Previously a very active person she was understandably feeling very unsure about her future. Her condition wasn’t considered serious enough for surgery and she was relying on pain medication but she knew this wasn’t a long-term solution and it was severely impacting her life. As a teacher, her job was demanding and she was struggling to meet those demands in her current situation. She was extremely determined to become pain-free and attended twice-weekly Pilates sessions. About 4 weeks into her Pilates training she started to see a gradual improvement as her pain levels started to decrease. Then a couple of months later she was largely pain-free with only minor flare-ups that were short in duration. Her life slowly began to return to normal, her mental state improved and she could see a way forward.
She continued strengthening with Pilates and then about a year after she first started Pilates she dropped a minor bombshell. She announced she wanted to go back to surfing! Surfing? She had never mentioned that surfing was one of her previous passions. Apparently, Heather had never mentioned it because when her lower back pain had been so severe she was sure she would never be able to surf again and she was too traumatised to discuss it. Naturally, I was hesitant as falling off a surfboard and being dumped in the surf with 2 lumbar disc bulges could be diabolical but she convinced me to give her exercises that would prepare her for this. I agreed, and we started the preparation and she applied her usual determination and conquered all the challenges I set for her. Nothing more was said until a couple of months later when she casually announced she had been surfing the previous weekend and loved it! I couldn’t believe it! This continued for another year until I received yet another shock. She was undertaking training to become a Surf Lifesaver! She had already been complimented on her extraordinarily strong core and degree of control during training and was looking forward to helping others as a volunteer during the approaching summer. Heather doesn’t like to even imagine where she would be now if she hadn’t turned to Pilates, it’s transformed her life!
Gemma started Pilates with me when her second child was around 2 years old.
At 32, she had lower back and neck pain, as well as pubic symphysitis and her Osteopath suggested she do Pilates. Osteopathic treatments gave her relief but only in the short term and her Osteopath knew she needed to strengthen her core and glutes, to recover from these conditions
She was highly motivated to resolve these issues as she was running around after two children under 5 while heading her own company but she was in pain, leaving her fatigued. She also dearly wanted to have a third child but didn’t feel she could with the level of pain she was experiencing. To say her desire to regain her pre-pregnancy health was strong was an understatement!
She attended Pilates twice weekly, included some home practice and started to see results around the five week mark. She continued diligently with Pilates and regular Osteopathy treatment and in addition to becoming pain-free, she developed a new level of strength and flexibility that allowed her to now add challenging walks to her schedule.
Approximately a year later she was delighted to learn that she was pregnant again and she continued her twice Pilates weekly sessions up to almost the very end of her pregnancy. She was at Pilates on Saturday and her baby was born on Monday night. She was overjoyed and couldn’t believe the ease of the labour and delivery in comparison to those of her first 2 children. She was back in the Pilates studio to begin gentle abdominal and glute strengthening 4 weeks later and she was able to keep all her previous issues under control with Pilates and Osteopathy. Her only regret? That she hadn’t discovered Pilates before her first pregnancy, but nevertheless, she was now able to care for her children, work and generally enjoy life again, thanks to Pilates.
These are just two of the many success stories I have seen over the years where people without hope have literally been given their quality of life back through Pilates. If you want to be able to actively participate in your children’s or grandchildren’s lives or you want to pursue a passion such as surfing, don’t let chronic pain hold you back. If you have been told there is nothing more that can be done for you medically why not consider Pilates? If you haven’t tried Pilates yet and are suffering from chronic pain, just remember there is always “a last resort.”