by Tracy Marsh
(Minneapolis, MN USA)
I am a 57 year old woman who has been disabled by my back since my first back surgery when I was 23 yrs old. I have had a total of five back surgeries now, the last one 12 years ago. It was a fusion of my lowest three disk levels. After that surgery I couldn't walk without a cane for a year. I have permanent nerve damage down both legs and into my feet that causes constant pain.
Through the years I always tried to stay in shape with a variety of different exercises and found one discouragement after another when I would become injured by every different one. Even the treadmill is too jerky for my back. I can walk outside, but living in Minnesota makes that difficult many months of the year.
Last fall I first tried Pilates at my local club. I had two private lessons and then went into a beginner class. I immediately fell in love! We work on the reformer, along with tower and mat work. For me, with my weakness, the reformer has really been the greatest! It allows me to work out without fear of injury. I felt muscles I hadn't felt in years! There has been NO back pain throughout my Pilates practice. I have strengthened my core all the way around and my legs are much more muscular and attractive looking. I was able to sweep my garage last weekend without the typical three days of severe pain after. My core is strong enough to carry groceries and do other everyday things that in the past would have caused severe pain in my back.
I have just purchased a home reformer, because I want to do Pilates on the reformer more often than I can afford at the gym. It is the first exercise I can't wait to go to. In the past, working out has been a necessary evil, but now it is a pleasure!
I have been in inpatient pain programs and outpatient physical therapy programs, along with much physical therapy over all these years. I have learned there that strengthening the core is the key in strengthening my back. I wish they had Pilates at the physical therapy clinics! They have given some similar floor exercises but NOTHING that works as well as Pilates!
I look forward to improvement in my core and back strength. Through building up my core, I am now feeling it building up my deep back muscles too. And I am also targeting upper body strength. I love the fact that there are hundreds of different exercises I can do with my Pilates reformer to target different areas and I know I won't have injuries!
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