Pain. Did reading the word make you wince and want to turn away?
The universal truth is that pain makes people change. This week osteopath Monica Blackburn @mfbosteo from our Shoreditch centre shares her story with us:
It was one of the most humbling experiences of my life.
I’ve struggled with my own back (and knee and hip) problems for a long time. I’ve always loved working out & going to the gym, but found it frustrating that my body couldn’t do what other people’s seemingly could. Although pilates was recommended to me over a decade ago, I didn’t commit to the rehab journey at that time, as I wanted to lift weights, run and do all the things that ultimately made my back worse.
The more I trained, the harder I found simple movements, and the more engrained bad movement patterns became.
After years of doing all the things that hurt me, enough was enough. I couldn’t run, train in the gym or do any of my favourite HIIT classes, as I was in excruciating pain most of the time. So, I scrapped EVERYTHING that I was doing and finally started a proper pilates routine. It was one of the most humbling experiences of my life. I thought to myself, “I go to the gym, I’m strong, I’ve got this! But I couldn’t even hold my leg in the air or do a glute bridge.
I finally accepted that I needed to stop doing all the things that hurt me and commit to a pilates rehab practice. It took at least a year for my body to feel strong, to feel like movement was coming from within and to feel like I could go for a run without pain, but it was so worth it.
I thought to myself, “I go to the gym, I’m strong, I’ve got this!” …I finally accepted that I needed to stop doing all the things that hurt me.
For the longest time, I felt like I was doing pilates so that I could go back to all those exercises that I “love.” But what actually happened was that the more pilates I did, the more I wanted to do. As I started feeling better in my body, the less I wanted to do all those things that hurt me in the first place. Pilates has given me such a new perspective on fitness, strength, mobility and how we should be approaching long-term musculoskeletal health.
After my personal experience with pain and recovery, it should come as no surprise that I now recommend pilates to the majority of my patients. It is a discipline that is harmonious with osteopathy, as both osteopathy and pilates promote health through balanced and controlled movement, whilst being gentle and kind to yourself.
Both osteopathy and pilates promote health through balanced and controlled movement
As an osteopath, I am obsessed with mobility and movement practices.
I believe that long-term spine and joint health requires frequent low-impact movement which keeps us supple. Issues in our bodies often arise when we become too stiff, tense and unable to absorb the impact of life’s activities. As creatures on this earth, we are subject to the pull of gravity and all the laws of physics.
So, with every step we take, forces travel up from the ground through our joints and will always take the path of least resistance. With areas of stiffness and/or injury, all those forces will be shunted elsewhere in the body, usually towards the joints that are more mobile or unstable. This scenario creates areas of tightness, weakness and not only leads to further pain, but also compensation mechanisms and poor movement patterns.
Body-weight, movement-based practices (like pilates and to a lesser extent yoga) are brilliant for us, as they not only help stretch out muscles and move joints, but also help to rebalance the body. Pilates helps strengthen the small muscles that stabilise our joints, which makes us far more able to control movement and withstand these forces.
So, as an osteopath, I can help you recover from injury. I can help relieve your pain and increase the mobility of your joints. But then pilates helps you strengthen and stabilise those joints and helps prevent further injuries from recurring. The irony is that if all my patients did a regular pilates practice, they would no longer be my patients!
Monica is a registered osteopath with over 10 years’ experience. She was first drawn to osteopathy because of its principle to help the body heal itself. She believes that patients benefit the most from a fully integrated approach to health and healing, and that the balance of body and mind – through daily movement, fresh food and ample time to relax – leads to true health. See her full schedule at triyoga here.