Back to Pilates

Pilates. I’ve been loyal to this grandchild of yoga for years. But I’ve had a complicated relationship with it, and we’ve been on a break.

Since it is mostly done on the floor on a mat, it’s great for me and my various joint problems – no jumping up and down on my knee or ankle. It provides gentle strength training and is good for abdominal and pelvic strength. When I was having periodic back pain due to gallstones, doing the hundred and roll-ups were the only things that gave me any relief. I recommended one of my pilates DVDs to my brother when he was diagnosed with scoliosis. It’s been good to me.

Doing pilates incorrectly is also how I screwed up my shoulder in 2009. And I’ve only done my favorite pilates workout twice since my gallbladder surgery last year, partially out of laziness and partially because I was afraid for a long time I wasn’t ready to test those stomach muscles. The inch-and-a-half-long scar above my belly has been well healed for a year, and the color is fading to a light pink, but when I felt the muscles around it pull during some of the abdominal work last night, I got hit with a little spike of alarm. I felt that pull and that same alarm a couple of months after my surgery when I tried some abdominal exercises, too. Maybe it was more warranted then, when my muscles were still knitting back together. I hurt myself a few weeks after surgery by lifting more weight than I should have been carrying, and the memory of that was still with me those months ago as, face down on the carpet, I lowered my legs and turned off the mp3 player guiding me.

I’m stronger now. I’ve had a whole year for my tissue to heal, and I have no problems with any of my everyday activities that require any kind of abdominal muscle strength. I’ve even started a new workout routine – my physical therapy. It doesn’t have a lot to do with my abdominal strength, but lately, I’ve been trying to engage those muscles while doing some of the movements to give myself stability and get my abs working again.

Last night, after my physical therapy workout, I did a 40-minute pilates workout on the floor as my boyfriend and I watched TV, me with one ear bud in with the instructor’s voice distracting me from the punchlines. I slept in a strange position the night before last, and my back was a little sore. I did the hundred and roll-ups on my own. That psyched me up for the rest of the workout, so I got out my mp3 player and started the full-on routine. After that sole pulling around my abdominal scar, everything felt fine and nothing hurt.

My back feels good this morning. My shoulder even feels good, and I forgot to ice it down after my physical therapy workout last night, since I neglected, once again, to throw the cooling pack into the freezer beforehand. My abs are not sore at all.

I’ve been wanting to branch out with exercise and do more than just my physical therapy routine. It is important to get my shoulder fully functional, and I’ve made great strides toward that. However, I’ve neglected to work out the rest of my body for the last year, first due to surgery, then due to my shoulder injury getting so much worse this past spring, and that’s something I must amend to get healthier. Pilates is pleasantly challenging and can be done almost anywhere there’s a flat surface and a few feet of room for the legs to kick. I’m glad I’m not scared off by it anymore. It remains to be seen whether I’ll go back to it on a regular basis.

My plan is to work out with my pilates routine once or twice a week.


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