What happens when you are suddenly told one day that you will never be able to walk again? In some cases it can completely destroy self-esteem and motivation to live, but not in my case. Having a disease like ADEM (Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis) can change anyone’s life, as it was for me in many ways. But Pilates also changed my life.
Being able to rebuild my body from the basics, walking with a cane at age 35, being constantly told that I should feel happy with my condition, just because I was better than many, was a constant struggle for me, which was not just physical, but mental as well. But I quickly learned that it is my mind that controls my body. I’ve always felt that no matter how we feel inside, it’s very important to dress up and show up for recovery. Pilates played a very important role in my recovery, which is why I would recommend it to anyone struggling with rehab of any kind.
What is Pilates?
Pilates is a systematized form of exercise that focuses on strengthening the core, which includes the abdominal and back muscles. Pilates can seem very intimidating to someone who hasn’t done it before, but it’s actually a safe sequential way in which you focus your concentration on each movement and patterns that are accurate. It also includes a form of steady and controlled breathing. Thus, Pilates can be done on a device that works with spring, tension and resistance, called a reformer, or it can be done on a mat with the help of your own body weight.
Benefits of Pilates
Pilates is great not only for weight loss, but also for chronic fatigue, muscle imbalances, and for rehabilitation purposes as well.
Pilates is good for chronic fatigue
Since it’s a low-impact exercise designed to strengthen major muscle groups without causing fatigue throughout the entire body, I could do Pilates because my trainers could customize my exercise routine to a level my body could tolerate, without too much effort. For me, Pilates was a great way to get in shape and build strength. As I am a person who has always tried to be active, given my physical limitations, it was not very difficult to start Pilates.
Pilates is all about mind and body connection
Pilates helped me get in tune with my body and taught me to really control my movement through proper breathing, correct pelvic and spinal alignment. This is how it automatically helped to reduce my pain, because when performing these exercises, breathing played a very important role. Proper breathing not only allows you to perform each movement efficiently but also helps in reducing and managing stress at the same time. When my oxygen levels are good, I feel better and breathing simultaneously has also helped my muscles recover.
Pilates helps improve balance
Many injuries are caused by muscle imbalances within our bodies. Most of us move incorrectly in one way or another, which puts a lot of strain on some muscles and weakens others, causing an imbalance. Pilates taught me how to coordinate the muscles in my arms and legs with my core, which helped me improve my body balance. If someone starts building their core muscles through a bespoke and personalized program like I did, it can do wonders for the body. The doctors told me that I would not be able to walk, but slowly and gradually as I started to strengthen my core muscles, not only did my posture improve, but I was able to walk again.
Pilates helps release hormones like endorphins:
This makes the person feel more energized. Endorphins are a “feel-good” compound that sets the mind off in a positive place. For me, Pilates is a form of exercise that reduces the feeling of depression and also helps with my general fatigue.
Pilates is not limited to just one environment
It can be done anywhere from the comfort of your own home to an aerobics zone (provided we have the right trainer guiding us), which is very effective in increasing the oxygen levels in our bloodstream and as a result it helps us to feel more energized.
The last word
Pilates is used by physical therapists around the world to increase postural awareness and change faulty movement patterns by addressing muscle imbalances. Through Pilates, I have noticed greater control over spine stability, pelvic stability and mobility, allowing me to improve my posture, inner strength and balance leading to overall healthy movement while minimizing stress on joints during everyday activities.