How I beat Back Pain with Pilates: Week 5

I have decided that I want to do Pilates h/w in the mornings, and formal stretching after my bath in the evening. Having a hot bath is my cheat-way of warming my muscles before I stretch!

Wednesday

  •  Body is looking and feeling much stronger. I have learnt how to engage my left buttock very well, and it is more toned now. However, the goal is balance; now I have to learn how to engage the right side just as much! I never thought that striving to sculpt an even shaped arse would be so high on my agenda… Part of my h/w practice over the week is to build my awareness into my right buttock, engaging that first and then my left side. The reason for engaging the right first is because that is weaker than the left and needs more time under tension to make it stronger. The contraction of the glutes plays a large part in alleviating strain my lower back and correcting the ‘swinging’ of my hips.
  • Longbox series looked much stronger, especially when pulling with just my right arm.
  • Long-stretch series was just amazing. Everything was solid and just seemed to coalesce. Even Amy noticed just how easy I was making it look. I was so stoked with that!
  • Did some fun balancing work on the Chair.
  •  Used the ‘Barrel’ for the first time today, lying back over it to stretch out. Felt really good. I want to go right over into a handstand from the barrel, as now my lats are stronger and I know how to activate them (at least I think so!). I want to see how lats contribute to my handstand form.
  •  Teasers on the long-box were difficult. We added a chest-press at the end. Again, my hip-flexors were fried. It’s still difficult to engage the lats and pull the shoulders down the whole time, whilst remaining balanced. But I’ll get it. Going to practice my teasers on the floor. 3 sets of 3 here I come!
  • Also going to try a mat class this Friday. Boom! Progress is finally taking its form, and it’s so good to feel it and see it and have Amy’s feedback to confirm it.

I should also add my psychosomatic changes, too. Now, when people ask me how my back is doing, I reply with ‘Good’ or ‘Really good’ or ‘Better and getting better still’. It re-installs in me that what I am doing is working and confirms to my subconscious that I am healing all the time. And I think that has a very significant part to play in any healing process. You have to know and feel that you are healing, not just going to the classes and going through the motions. I am reaching flexion positions that only a few weeks ago, I deemed impossible. This is an exciting process, and the more that I do Pilates, the more I love it. Fantastic, encouraging stuff!

Thursday

Started the morning with my Pilates homework, everything felt fine. Still finding the technique of locking the shoulders and lats down during the teasers difficult.

I have also been working with a Yoga teacher, having 1 private class a week. It’s been fun, so far, but this week, tragedy struck. My teacher was stuck in traffic and couldn’t make the private session, so she suggested I go along to class instead.

Everything started OK, until about 5 minutes in, whilst on hands and knees and rounding my back upwards, a sharp explosion of pain set off right in the middle of my lower back.

Disaster.

My whole world seemed to just collapse there and then. I haven’t felt a twinge like that since early October, some 2 months ago. I thought I was over all that. I proceeded to do the rest of the class: not sure if that was sensible or not. I could feel pain right in the middle of my back, but I didn’t want to stop and give in to something I have been trying so hard to battle and beat. The rest of the class, needless to say, was horrible. I was in a most depressed, dark and foul mood and couldn’t concentrate. For the walk home, I was holding back the tears, asking ‘Why? Why now?’ I had been in much more accentuated flexion positions in classes with no problems at all. And yet one slight bend and BOOM! There goes my back.

I was absolutely furious. I just couldn’t understand why it happened. In hindsight, as I write this on the following day, Friday, I can only boil it down to not engaging my core in flexion for that split second. That might have been enough to set off the ‘ping’ of ligaments straining or whatever.

My conclusion has been; to always have my core engage in flexion, regardless if the teacher’s instructions are to ‘relax’ or not. And I’m also going to take it easy with the flexion side of things for a few days.

Friday

Having said the above, I had a hot bath this morning to ease off my muscles, and then proceeded with my Pilates homework. And it was all fine. No pain. No strains or tweaked feelings. However, I was engaging my core as if hanging on for dear life.

Strangely enough, my teasers today were the best they have been. I understood, finally, just where my weight has to be placed in my buttocks for optimum balance. It’s just behind the sit-bones, behind the fleshy part of the glute.

Mentally I feel much better today, although I felt a touch depressed when waking up this morning. The feeling of being forced back to square one is what I hate most. Not to mention just how much effort I have spent on getting this far. Still, it is another lesson that I must take on board and deal with – I’m not there yet. I must engage my core more than I think necessary if I wish to never experience these twinges and painful strains again! Hopefully yesterday was the last time that I feel that horrible straining sensation.

Check out the next post, Week 6, to see how I get on with the most terrifying exercise I’ve had to do yet!

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