Pilates, ALS, and the RDC Marathon…Guest Post by Andrea Lytle Peet

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Andrea Peet (pre-ALS) with her husband

When I was diagnosed with ALS in May 2014 at the age of 33, my husband and I
were confronted by the same depressing facts that everyone with ALS learns:

  • The average life expectancy is 2-5 years
  • Before death, the person will become paralyzed, unable to talk, eat, or
    swallow, and eventually lose the ability to breathe
  • There is no treatment and no cure. The only approved drug extends life
    expectancy 2-3 MONTHS (*note: A second drug was approved in 2017, but it has issues that I won’t bother going into…)

So what do you do with that? I was young, an athlete (I’d done a half Ironman 8
months earlier), and we had just bought a house in order to start a family.
I was already walking with a cane and my speech was slurred, but I thought I was still strong enough to pull off a super sprint triathlon, Ramblin’ Rose Chapel Hill. Since I could no longer balance on two wheels, we bought a recumbent trike. I asked my friends to support me by donating to ALS research and they raised $10,000! My best friend, Julie, and I came in last and ended up with a story in Endurance
magazine.

That race transformed my perspective on the disease. I realized I could inspire
people to take on challenging races as a way to raise money for ALS – but more importantly, as a way to appreciate what their bodies can do. “Team Drea” started with 30 people, but has now grown to 150+ and raised $220,000 for ALS research. As for me, I kept riding my trike…and did a half marathon…then a marathon. Then I thought, “I’m tired of waiting around for this disease to kill me,” and signed up for 12 races in 2016 (half marathons, marathons, and triathlons), each dedicated to someone with ALS who has inspired me.

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Triking

I completed that challenge, crediting my success to exercise on the trike, swimming, and the dumb luck to have a slowly progressing form of ALS.

But it wasn’t until I started working with Mischa Decker at IOBT in January 2017 that I learned I could actually get STRONGER.

What started out as 4 weeks of “I’ll give this a try,” has turned into 11 months of weekly Pilates-based PT appointments with Mischa where we work on my weak areas: core, glutes, outer thighs – and stretching places that are tight: inner thighs, calves, and feet. Top it off with bi-weekly acupuncture appointments with Austin and ooooh weeeee honey, my body feels awesome these days!! 🙂

Mischa is amazing. She is laser focused throughout our session on my positioning, which muscles should be activated, sensitive areas, and those that need attention. I know I’m in trouble when she says, “I have a crazy idea…” because that means she knows I’ve built up the strength to push just a little bit further, do just a little bit more. Which, as we all know, is where the Pilates magic happens.

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On the CoreAlign during one of her Pilates sessions at InsideOut

The results have been incredible. I walk better (still with a walker, but who cares? I’M. STILL. WALKING). While I still fall occasionally, it’s not nearly as frequent now, thanks to my stronger core muscles. And I’m actually getting faster with swimming and triking. Such positive progress is almost unheard of in ALS.

This Sunday, November 12th, I will take on my 12th race of 2017 (27th with ALS) – the inaugural RDC Marathon in Durham. This race benefits my foundation and the proceeds will go to ALS research at Duke. My world-renown* neurologist, Dr.Richard Bedlack, is studying off-label treatments: supplements, bee pollen, fecal transplants, and other crazy things people with ALS try on their own in the absence of any effective treatment in mainstream medicine.

*His wardrobe is also world-renown, see for yourself

He is also studying cases of ALS reversal – that’s right, people whose ALS have gone away. So far he’s found 34…out of 30,000 people living with ALS in the U.S. at any one time.

Not good odds, but Dr. Bedlack’s research gives me hope in the same way that sessions with Mischa do. If I can just hang on a little longer, push just a little bit further, maybe there will be a treatment. Or my body will figure out how to repair itself.

Hey, stranger things have happened – ask the 34 people with ALS reversals…or the woman in the trike doing her 27th race.

Thank you IOBT for supporting ALS research. It means the world to me and everyone else with ALS!

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Team Drea at the Ramblin’ Rose Triathlon 2017

 

 

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The “F” Words: Guest post by Lori Ginsberg, PT

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How can I “fix” my aches and pains? What can I do to avoid activities that cause these aches and pains? WHY am I plagued with these problems over and over again?! I had this issue years ago and it is BACK again…why?!

I get asked these types of questions on a regular basis and the answer is simple. The F words.  FIX, FOUNDATION and FUN. Three words that can change the way you approach fitness and function (more F words!) and avoid the chronic injury/re-injury cycle. Knowing how to balance your time among these three exercise stages will go a long way toward keeping you fit, strong and injury free.

FIX activities are appropriate when injury or dysfunction exists that causes pain and/or abnormal movement patterns. This stage focuses on restoring the most basic movement foundations, protecting the affected structures from further aggravation and allowing healing to take place.   This stage is best managed by experienced physical therapists or other highly trained and licensed movement specialists.

FOUNDATION activities continue to build on the fundamental movement patterns introduced during FIX (or are where to start if no injury exists). These activities focus on making conscious neuromuscular connections to fine tune and improve quality in movement patterns. When such activities are practiced regularly and in good form, the foundations become automatic and the body “upgrades” itself. A good example is the improved posture that results over time from practicing Pilates. Where at first holding yourself tall and straight felt unnatural, now slouching and rounding your shoulders is uncomfortable. It’s now easier to maintain your OPTIMAL alignment!

FUN activities range from CrossFit to gardening, playing beach volleyball to daily long walks with the dog. To perform FUN stage activities, without risking a return to FIX, it’s important to have an adequate FOUNDATION. You wouldn’t build a tree house on a tree with no roots and a flimsy trunk. Neither should you kick a soccer ball or swing a golf club without a strong foundation (aka “core”).

A solid, lifetime exercise program should include regular activities from both the FOUNDATION and FUN categories.

The result…better posture, increased awareness and connection to your body, and improved performance in all levels of activity… from climbing the stairs to reaching a new PR in a triathlon….and less visits to the FIX stage.

The Core Align is the newest tool here at IOBT and is an ideal one for moving through all of these stages. The exercises are fun, functional and challenge the neuromuscular system to perform at its optimal level. Check it out, along with our other Pilates equipment and floor classes at InsideOut Body Therapies.

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http://www.insideoutbodytherapies.com

To schedule a CoreAlign or Pilates private or register for classes at InsideOut, contact the studio. 919-361-0104  info@insideoutbodytherapies.com

Moving Through Pain: Guest post by Susan Rhea, DPT

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Pain. So many people deal with pain on a daily basis. While pain itself is a normal sensation in our body, meant to protect us and help us survive, in some cases it can persist, changing and limiting our daily activities.  That’s when it can become chronic- causing suffering and resulting in activity modification.  That is not normal.  This doesn’t happen with all pain, though.  So why do some people bounce back from injury while others do not?

As it turns out, the answer may lie in the brain. The nervous system is a huge contributor to chronic pain and can be the true cause of conditions such as chronic low back pain, chronic neck pain, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome.  As you might imagine, this is quite a complicated topic!

Pain is not an input. It’s an output.  

Contrary to what you might think, pain is not an input—it isn’t caused by outside sources. Yes, there are nerve fibers in our bodies, which are meant to sense pain, but the BRAIN is where pain is actually created.

For example, if you stub your toe, nerve endings in your toe sends signals to the spinal cord and up to the brain. The brain then determines how it will interpret that information. The brain doesn’t just process the physical sensation from your toe, but also all the other stimuli it is receiving, including information like what you are hearing, seeing, and feeling (emotionally and physically). That information is then sent out to other parts of the brain, including the parts of the brain that process emotion, problem solving, memory, and the motor cortex, which allows you to react to the “danger” at the root of the pain and then protect yourself.

For many people, the toe hurts for a little while but then feels better, and the stimulation to the brain returns to normal. In some cases, however, such as major trauma or when the brain can’t identify the source of the “danger,” the brain continues the pain output. The parts of the brain that became stimulated don’t shut off and neural pathways that were associated with the injury trigger the pain output even though there is no longer any true physical danger. This can result in increased sensitivity to other sensations, impaired movement patterns, and difficulty returning to normal activities of daily life. Emotional changes may also result, including feeling anxious about movement, fearful of re-injury and even depression.  All of this can cause a cycle of disuse, pain, and disability.

How can we break the cycle?

  1. Education – Understanding how pain works has shown to have major benefits in people with chronic pain. A great resource for patients/clients with pain is the book “Why do I Hurt?” by Adriaan Louw.  Many of these suggestions are from this book.
  2. Sleep  –  Good restorative sleep is so important. Tips for promoting healthy sleep habits include limiting TV/screen time in evening hours, keeping a consistent sleep schedule, and exercising regularly.
  3. Walking – Walking is excellent for increasing circulation, increasing positive hormones, reducing stress, and reducing fatigue and muscle soreness.
  4. Slow and Steady – Often people return to their regular activities too quickly.  Instead, slowly increasing activities to tolerance and allowing for progressive desensitization will be helpful.

At InsideOut, we believe that Movement Heals and we are committed to helping you have a positive movement experience.  With our guidance and support we will work together with the whole body to break negative pain cycles.   Stay tuned for our next blog post in which we will discuss more specifics on how to work with pain to break the chronic injury/re-injury cycle.

Re-program with Pilates-based PT

Guest post by Susan Rhea, PT, DPT

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The other day a PT colleague asked me “what is the difference between traditional PT and Pilates based PT?” The question is one I’ve heard many times since beginning my work at IOBT yet it still excites me to share what I’ve learned from the Pilates world. 

One of the many differences I have seen using PBPT in my practice is being able to support the body while facilitating natural movement.  We are able to the Pilates equipment along with the traditional hands on techniques and patient education while approaching problems with a holistic perspective.  We are looking at the whole person, not just the injury or symptoms.

Many times injuries or less than optimal posture can cause imbalances in the body over time and if not corrected these compensations can cause issues down the road. In Pilates, we focus on finding balance and uniform development in the body by facilitating proper motor programming.  When you are injured the body changes the way it moves to protect the injured area, but over time this can lead to tightness and/or weakness. Even after strengthening and stretching, the central nervous system is still “programmed” to move differently from the days, weeks, or even years of compensation.  These unhealthy patterns will persist until they are “re-programed.”  At IOBT, our PTs work with your central nervous system to create NEW patterns and restore the natural movement of your joints and muscles. With the help of one of our amazing Pilates-Based PTs, you can reduce your pain, improve your posture, and return to the activities you love!

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Contact the studio to set up your Pilates-based PT evaluation.

919-361-0104

info@insideoutbodytherapies.com

Early detection saved my life. Pilates saved my sanity.

Guest post by Lori Ginsberg, PT, MPT

Lori

Early detection saved my life.

As dramatic as that sounds—it is true.  It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost 4 years – Christmas Eve 2012, since I found the lump that rocked my world.  I am here today, CANCER FREE, because I took that suspicious lump to my doctor on January 1.  I insisted on a mammogram and ultrasound when she said “let’s just watch it”.

I listened to my inner voice, the one that told me that something was not right.

So yes, early detection of breast cancer saved my life but Pilates saved my sanity.  I was diagnosed with Stage 2a “triple positive” breast cancer—“the GOOD kind”!  Which meant that after a double mastectomy, 6 rounds of chemo and a future of estrogen deprivation, I am cured!  But guess what?  There is no “good kind” of cancer.  The physical, mental and emotional toll of the battle is hard to quantify but is immense.

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For the first time as a Pilates-based physical therapist, I had to practice what I preach and I hoped I’d been right.  I was.  I felt the benefits of Pilates as a gentle, efficient and effective rehab tool for regaining motion and strength.  I felt the power of the Pilates principles— breath, control, flow, concentration— to help me simply get through every day, no matter how crummy I felt.  Some days I’d do a few minutes of footwork,  some days I’d spend an hour moving and sweating and focusing on the work, some days I’d simply lie on my back and breathe.

I always, ALWAYS, felt better afterwards.

So now, almost 4 years later, I’m finally at the point where some days I forget I had cancer.  When I remember, I tell someone my story so that one day maybe she can forget too.  October is breast cancer awareness month.  The perfect time to start a routine. Check your breasts, today and every month.  Schedule your mammogram.  Listen to your inner voice—she’s smarter than you know.

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Schedule a Pilates-based Physical Therapy evaluation with Lori or one of our other Pilates-based physical therapists by calling the studio at 919-361-0104. 

We Could Make Beautiful Movement Together…Guest post by Lori Ginsberg

Guest post by Lori Ginsberg, PT, MPT

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The human body was designed to move with ease and efficiency: our bones stacked to support our weight, our muscles and connective tissues attached to those bones to provide appropriate forces to maintain stability and allow mobility, and our central nervous system the communication center that coordinates these forces.

Movement is complicated business. Simply walking takes a tremendous amount of work from our bodies—our bones, muscles and brain all working together to keep us upright and moving forward. Not to mention that we are texting, talking and trying to solve the problems of the world simultaneously.

Yet we manage to walk… some better than others. Some faster, some with pain, some with pain long after walking.  It’s complicated. But improving functional movement doesn’t have to be.

First, imagine an orchestra… Shiny, well cared for instruments. Dedicated musicians who practice for hours.   Tones and sound and power that come from the different instruments. And the variety of sounds that come from a single instrument based on how the musician plays it.   Picture the conductor…the coordinator of these sounds. The one responsible for combining these sounds to create harmony and ensure a lovely well coordinated melody. The instruments, the musicians and the conductor are all critical to the outcome of the performance and the success of the symphony.

Now imagine your body… your bones and joints the instruments that will be played by your musician muscles. Your central nervous system the conductor that leads these musicians. All working together to create beautiful, harmonious, fluid movement.

I consider physical therapy at IOBT sort of like a music camp in this regard.

First, we teach you how to care for your instruments. How to improve the alignment of your spine or the mobility in your hip. Next, you practice playing your instrument. Teaching your glueteal muscles to fire or your upper trapezius to relax. Finally, you practice playing them together, with all of the other instruments of movement to create harmonious, pain free, functional movement.

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One of my favorite new tools for teaching this movement musicality is the Core Align. Similar to other Pilates equipment, the Core Align is designed to challenge stability while providing appropriate and varying levels of support. The goal is to create harmony between controlled stability and dynamic mobility, resulting in a strong, healthy and vibrant body.  Most of the exercises on the Core Align are performed standing and closely mimic functional movements from the most basic (getting up from a chair) to those that would challenge the most elite athletes (handstands on a surfboard). Feedback to the body is instantaneous, and correct positioning during the exercises improves alignment, ensures correct muscle recruitment and demands core control. And using the Core Align provides opportunity to practice the complex, coordinated movement patterns that lead to beautiful, harmonious movement.

Come see a PT at Inside Out Body Therapies and learn to make beautiful movement for yourself!

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Lori Ginsberg, PT, MPT has been a physical therapist for 17 years, specializing in Pilates-based physical therapy since 2006. While working at the University of Minnesota and the University of Chicago orthopedics clinics, she developed a solid foundation of skills and experience with complex musculoskeletal issues. She brought those skills into smaller clinical settings since, sought after by “puzzling” patients who have tried, and failed, traditional PT. Since becoming Pilates certified through Balanced Body she has combined her expertise in human movement, manual therapy and innovative Pilates exercises to help patients achieve optimal strength, stability and function. Her passion is in helping people clearly identify, and then achieve, their health and fitness goals. She has recently become trained on the CoreAlign, an innovative piece of equipment that emphasizes upright posture to improve strength, balance, alignment and functional movement.

A breast cancer survivor, Lori is uniquely qualified to work with those undergoing chemotherapy, radiation and/or post- mastectomy. She credits Pilates-based movement for much of her success in the battle against cancer.

Lori earned her Masters of Physical Therapy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her undergraduate degree at The University of San Diego. She lives with her husband and 2 daughters in Cary and enjoys spending her free time driving soccer carpools.