10 December 2006

Pilates

By the end of June, Bonnie and I were close friends, and I had much more range of motion but no less pain. I began to read about what I'd need in order to recover quickly from the surgery, and there were a lot of references to core strength and upper body strength. So when I left Phoenix for my summer in California, I decided to go for the core strength rather than find another physical therapist.

Somewhere between Bonnie and Pilates I also tried Rolfing. I actually loved it, because it released all the muscular tightness I kept having from trying to walk on my bad hip. Here's what I learned about my particular situation: I don't stop. I will keep going through almost any pain, and probably without meds. That means I will use any muscle or body part necessary to keep me going, whether it's the right one or the wrong one. By the time I got to Bonnie, I had developed a bunch of alternative muscles for walking, while the "real" ones were short and tight. Both Bonnie and Rolfing helped me learn what muscles I needed to develop and what muscles I needed to stretch.

So a big part of keeping comfortable and keeping going was keeping stretched out. I did this both on land through Rolfing and yoga (where I finally quit going to classes and practiced on my own, only poses where I was sitting or lying down), and in the hot tub at the gym, where I could do the standing yoga poses I couldn't do on land.

I also learned to use ice packs on my butt and groin when I had done something really stupid, like walk my dog up a hill near my house.

But the coolest thing I did all summer was Pilates. I found a great studio near my home in California and I spent a fortune on private sessions three times a week on the Reformer. Pilates also taught me new things about my body, especially how to identify all my core muscles and isolate them.

In a way, all this was a gift; I had spent years being an athlete without knowing very much about anatomy and physiology, which was probably how I injured myself in the first place. Because I am very strong for a woman my size, I just powered through things.In all my years of running, even marathons, I never stretched. And even in my yoga teacher training, I did not concentrate on understanding how the muscle groups worked.

Of course I have made up for all this now. I was destined to get these lessons one day, whether I wanted them or not :-) But I think I could actually teach yoga now, because I have come to a greater appreciation of how its early inventors and practitioners came to it.

Oh, I almost forgot: one other little component of my preparation was to stop my other joints from becoming arthritic. To accomplish this, I practiced something my yoga teacher, Jeff Martens, showed me-- the joint-freeing exercises of Mukunda Stiles. These are an excellent series of easy movements that awaken the range of motion in every major joint. I got down on the floor and did these every morning,

Did I have a life apart from exercise and therapy? I guess not, but I got into it and began to enjoy it. I thought it was a wonderful summer. I even managed to keep my business going. Luckily, I work from home and control my own time!

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