By Jordana Herman
Last year Jeff came into the studio to talk to me about pain he was experiencing. Due to his pain and inactivity he had put on weight and was avoiding exercise. Jeff’s doctors had been unsuccessful finding the source of the pain even after x-rays and MRIs. The doctor recommended NSAIDs and suggested rest.
When that didn’t work, physical therapy was prescribed. Jeff went as directed. Although he experienced some relief from the therapy, the pain recurred once the treatments were over. He was very unhappy, inactive and told me he was concerned that exercising could cause him more pain, or further injury.
For Jeff, the medical treatment he received didn’t work. In the meantime he was still suffering, going to work and managing his day to day life not knowing what to do to help himself.
Jeff wanted to explore Pilates as a possible solution. We discussed his symptoms and what the doctor and therapists had recommended, what he had done and what the results had been. Now we had a starting point from which to address his pain. He was ready to try a new approach.
Pilates was the only addition to John’s new routine. He committed to Pilates one to two times per week. After a few months he felt improvements. After more than a year he is virtually pain free. He has felt incredible benefits from Pilates and can focus again on the important things in his life, his family, his job and a return to the active lifestyle he previously enjoyed.
The problem for so many people like Jeff who experience pain from injury — or from conditions such as Lyme Disease, Fibromyalgia, Rheumatic conditions or Osteoporosis — is the compounding effect of inactivity and resulting atrophying of the muscles of the body. Avoiding exercise results in an increase of problems and imbalances overall, especially the longer one chooses not to move.
Gentle and intelligent movement using Pilates has scientifically proven benefits. A process known as ATP muscle fiber contraction is vital to maintaining balance, and thus mitigating pain in the body. When the brain tells the muscle to begin to contract, the muscles release calcium ions that initiate muscle contraction thus shortening the muscles. Once the muscle fibers shorten, the muscles are “hugging,” the body like a giant body glove, giving it support like a brace might do, oxygen and blood circulation into those areas of muscle contraction assist further with the healing process.
In other words, rest is usually not the answer to resolving pain. The body’s built-in recovery system hinges on motion — intelligent motion — to heal itself. And the Pilates method is ideal to help initiate and accelerate this process.