This month, we celebrate the one year pilates-versary of Katie Grainger, who came to pilates with chronic pain, and has since become stronger, healthier, and out of pain!
A: I’ve been in pilates for almost a year now, starting sometime in November 2017.
Q: What brought you to pilates and how did you find Janet and Soma?
A: I was looking to start a low impact exercise program that would help me become stronger after my diagnosis of an autoimmune disorder. At the time, I’d been seeing different physical therapists for over a year as well as a naturopath doctor who encouraged me to try acupuncture and other modalities – some of which helped with my symptoms, but mostly left me feeling physically weak. I had been told by my doctors that there are no cases of anyone with an autoimmune disorder or connective tissue disease practicing high impact sports, which I had always loved. I gave up my dream of ever returning to martial arts classes and sold my snowboard and started researching what I could do. I found a few case studies on people with similar issues finding relief over a 5-10 year span if they maintained a regimen of doing pilates for 3-5 times a week. Of course, there isn’t much research, and I’m still considered young to be dealing with this, so there’s no telling how the next 10, 20, or even 30 years could go. But everything I read about pilates seemed helpful and appealed to me, particularly with how it focuses on controlling body mechanics to strengthen the core, align the posture, and improve overall day-to-day functioning of the muscles and connective tissues. I figured with pilates I had nothing to lose! I went online, looked at a few websites, and after finding Soma, I went for it! Vanessa was my first private instructor and, after just one session with her, I was hooked. All of the staff here are very warm and welcoming to people from all walks of life, with different body types, and those with or without health issues. I can’t imagine practicing pilates anywhere else.
Q: What were some of the health challenges you have faced in your time at the studio, and how has pilates helped?
A: In the last year, I had really been struggling with peripheral neuropathy, sciatic nerve pain, and muscle weakness. I was told by doctors not to lift more than 30 lbs. I’d try to lift smaller weights for a time, but would only end up injuring myself. There were a few times I’d go to sleep and almost dislocate my shoulder because the joint had rolled out of place. It was scary.
Pilates has helped me learned how to control my muscles and better distinguish the connective tissues. In time, I started feeling much better. I noticed a difference in my posture and stride. My sleep improved and I had more energy. I stopped having chronic pain and felt less anxious about having flare ups. I also began to enjoy how my body looked and felt! I could finally see toned muscles again and I can’t tell you how great that felt after almost two years of health issues. This past summer, I was able to golf almost every weekend with my husband. Pilates made this possible~
Q: Had you tried other movement modalities before and if so, what were your experiences?
A: I grew up dancing (ballet for 13 years) and took yoga classes when I was younger and really enjoyed them. What used to work for my body sadly doesn’t anymore and, as a hypermobile individual, I’ve found that yoga can actually be dangerous and too destabilizing for me. I’m just so much more prone to injury now and I can easily overextend my body in ways it shouldn’t move. I like that pilates reinforces the mind-body connection and but keeps me in control of my joints and connective tissues.
Q: You’re currently expecting-how has pilates impacted your pregnancy, and how had your body changed?
A: I honestly can’t imagine being pregnant without pilates now. There are times in the first and second trimesters when the relaxin hormone would make it even easier for me to overextend, but attending classes regularly each week helped me to maintain stability. I also dislocated a rib in the second trimester and, thanks to being so in tune with my body now, I was able to feel when it finally re-adjusted itself naturally. Janet and Vanessa would immediately tell me what to correct on a weekly basis, so I didn’t cause myself more pain. In the third trimester, I’m starting to feel “tighter” in my hips and shoulders now, certainly less hypermobile than I was, and the instructors joke that this is how most people normally feel. I’m almost at 34 weeks and I’m happy to say that I’m still sleeping 8 hours a night. I have very few discomforts outside of the normal pelvic pain and occasional sciatic nerve pain from carrying the baby. I attribute a lot of this to pilates!
Q: What are your favorite pilates movements, either while pregnant or in general?
A: I really enjoy most of the pelvic floor exercises, especially now that I’m preparing for labor and delivery. Pregnant or not, my favorite class is probably bodhi suspension. It helps me work on my balance and rely heavily on my core for strength. I also like that we occasionally do barre work, as it takes me back to my early years of dancing.
We are so happy for Katie’s success, and look forward to seeing her back in a few months after the delivery of her baby!