Real People Do Pilates
A collection of blogs where The Pilates Education founder, Matthew, interviews real students from various walks of life to find out what Pilates means to them.
GPs do Pilates
This exciting new blog collection kicks off with thoughts from Rachel, a local NHS GP who has been taking classes with me since May 2016.
Rachel made contact with me at the start of her second pregnancy, so I was keen to hear about her experiences from a pre and postnatal perspective, as well as her time learning the equipment repertoire in our sessions.
Rachel, why did you choose Pilates to accompany pregnancy?
I chose to do Pilates during both my pre and postnatal journey because I was keen to support and strengthen my core, pelvic floor and back as they went through the necessary changes pregnancy imposes on them and their subsequent recovery postnatally.
I had done mat Pilates elsewhere in my first pregnancy in 2013 and regretted that I had not kept it going postnatally and in the intervening years to my next pregnancy in 2016.
So, what brought you back to Pilates?
I could feel that the 'stressors' of breastfeeding postures, carrying an increasingly heavy baby/toddler and then returning to an office based job were all impacting on my back and core. I could feel that it was weak and I got intermittent aches and pains.
Specifically though, a laxity in my right pelvis (incurred while vacuuming during my first pregnancy!) caused pain to return there really early in my second pregnancy. This prompted me to contact you and start Pilates again ASAP.
How did you find the initial sessions?
Your care, understanding and subsequent use of both mat and equipment repertoire resulted in quick cessation of the pain and even as the pregnancy progressed I was able to keep this in check.
That is a great outcome. What else would you say Pilates did for you?
Generally Pilates kept me strong and pain free. I think many women simply accept that pregnancy will give them a 'bad' back or pelvic pain and certainly many women do experience significant pelvic dysfunction causing them pain and disability. I found that taking time to strengthen and care for my core, back and pelvic floor largely prevented this for me. I also think that starting early in pregnancy (like the end of 1st trimester) is probably an excellent idea so that problems may not have even manifest themselves by then and prevention is better than cure as they say.
What unexpected benefits did you encounter in our prenatal classes?
It was great that you took time in each session to teach breathing and visualisation techniques. I was impressed that you took care to check if this was something I wanted to do. In this busy, ever connected world we currently dwell in I found this extremely beneficial and surprised myself by successfully using some of them during labour (I'm a sceptical scientist!).
What support did Pilates offer to you after the birth?
Postnatally I didn't recommence my sessions for some months as I found it hard to figure out when I could fit them in. I did however intermittently do some of the mat exercises at home especially when my upper back, shoulders and chest were stiff and sore from baby carrying and breastfeeding. I also noted some laxity in my pelvic floor muscles and knowing the exercises from the prenatal work I found I could improve this myself.
On recommencing the sessions the benefit I was noting from doing some exercises myself has increased hugely. My lower back, core and pelvic floor all feel strong and pain free. I have discomfort and stiffness in my upper back, neck and chest from baby carrying and breastfeeding and these are all improving despite ongoing 'insults' from an especially heavy baby and ongoing breastfeeding!
You mention previously taking mat only classes. How have you found your exploration of equipment repertoire in the studio?
Using the equipment and increasing choices gradually as we progre
ssed into the postnatal period has been really good. I can feel that the resistance and gentle 'pull' that the springs provide via the equipment increases the stretch and strengthening. I am able to achieve a much deeper and more satisfying outcome than just mat work alone would afford.
I am excited by the prospect of continuing to increase my experience and expertise on the equipment. I am committed to continue Pilates for an indefinite period as I find it so beneficial.
That is great to hear, Rachel. So to finish, as a GP with personal experience of Pilates, do you recommend Pilates to your patients?
I wholeheartedly recommend Pilates to my patients - especially when they have back pain but also more generally as part of a healthy lifestyle.