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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Achieving Goals with Pilates…Guest post by Riki Shore

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Guest post by Riki Shore

On Sunday October 8th, IOBT client Anne-Claire Broughton will complete her first triathlon, the Ramblin’ Rose, in celebration of turning 50! A lover of challenge and a lifetime learner, Anne-Claire decided to celebrate her half-centennial by doing something active and enabling, and pushing herself to new physical frontiers.

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Ever since she can remember, Anne-Claire said her spine looked “unusual”, but she was only recently diagnosed with scoliosis. “I was always flagged for it when we got checked in school,” she remembers, “but the back pain didn’t come until after my daughter was born, and it intensified later when I had abdominal surgery.” Indeed, when she first walked into IOBT she wasn’t standing straight and tall, and she told me immediately that her back hurt “almost all the time”. And like a lot of mothers, firing the low belly muscles was nearly impossible – those muscles just didn’t seem accessible. More than anything, she came to Pilates to strengthen her deep core.

As her instructor, I build sessions that help her achieve her goals while creating space and length in her spine, pushing her to an edge without ever increasing her pain. We start every session with Footwork on the Reformer (see image below), which wakes up her feet and stabilizes her pelvis while using the deep abdominal muscles that Anne-Claire wants to strengthen. Since she’s not primarily looking to build muscle mass, we keep the spring tension low in order to facilitate smooth, continuous movement and highlight the connection between the spring tension and her Pilates scoop (what is sometimes referred to as “holding the spring with your belly”).

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If asked her favorite exercise, Anne-Claire would say Leg Circles, which she credits with helping to straighten her spine and reduce lower back pain.  We also do this exercise every session using the leg springs on the Cadillac. When we first started, I asked Anne-Claire to “stand” into a block that was pushed against the short box from the Reformer, which I had placed at the end of the Cadillac. I wanted to her to feel a ground beneath her extended leg as a stabilizing force while she circled the other leg exploring both movement and restraint. After several months together, she no longer needs the stabilizing block and can hop onto the Cadillac and go right into the exercise.

We always finish the session with some time draped over the Spine Corrector (see image below), which allows her to explore flexion, extension, side bending and rotation in a safe and supportive way. While there have been ups and downs in her triathlon training as she learns what her spine can tolerate, I can honestly say that Anne-Claire is stronger, leaner, taller and more supple than when we first met.

AC Spine Corrector

Like any busy not-quite-50-year-old, she sometimes experiences stress, fatigue, muscle tightness and pain, but she remains undaunted and committed to what she calls her Body Project. “I love doing things that at first I’m afraid of or I think I can’t do. Then when I do them…that is the best feeling!” I have no doubt she’s going to be feeling that way when she crosses the finish line in Chapel Hill in a few short weeks – and I’m proud to have played a small part in her journey. Thank you, Anne-Claire, for brightening IOBT with your presence!

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Schedule a private session with Riki or any of our instructors:        

919-361-0104         info@insideoutbodytherapies.com

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

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

6 Reasons We Love Pilates Equipment Classes

Walking into a Pilates studio for the first time might be a little intimidating… Archaic looking structures made of wood, leather and metal with springs, straps, and fuzzy loops attached.  WEIRD. But, once you get to know the Pilates equipment, I promise you will understand and LOVE it!

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Today is the 1st day of the 12 Days of Specials at InsideOut and the special is on Equipment classes.  So, I thought I would share a few reasons why we love Pilates equipment classes!

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  1. Support- The equipment will support you, making the exercises a little easier…well maybe not easier, but easier to do with good form and alignment!  People who find Pilates mat or yoga classes too challenging or painful, often really enjoy the equipment. In a mat class, it’s just you, the mat and gravity!  The equipment will support and assist your body in an amazing way.
  2. Resistance- The springs provide resistance, but in a smooth and supportive way.  They act similarly to our muscles as they stretch and then recoil with our movements.  The resistance can be light or heavy, but the springs allow for smooth, graceful movement.
  3. Versatility- You can do SO. MANY. THINGS. on the equipment!  From beginner to highly advance, ANYONE can benefit.  There are hundreds of exercises in which you might be lying on your back to standing on your head.  The Pilates system of movement is so diverse and complete!  All body parts and types of movement are worked during each session!
  4. Challenging- You must be present during class as you have to focus on the exercises, breath, the equipment AND your movement.  This is challenging for the body AND mind, but is often a welcomed change from our daily stressors!
  5. Camaraderie- In a class, you have the support and sense of community from fellow classmates…whether they are cheering you on as you come up in Teaser on the reformer, or while joining in on a communal eye roll as the teacher says “3 more” after you have already done nearly 200 Hundreds!  We love seeing the friendships that form in our studio!
  6. Fun- It starts to look and feel like a playground for grown ups.  Have you been in the studio when someone suddenly flips upside down or stands on her head?  These things might sound impossible, but we have people of all ages and fitness levels doing fun, gymnastics-like exercises!  Only if you want…but the option is there! And even if you aren’t flipping around, the equipment is still really fun!

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Don’t let the flipping and headstands intimidate you- ANYONE can take equipment classes!  At InsideOut, we just require you to take a minimum of TWO private sessions to get familiar with the equipment before starting a class.  We have classes for people just coming out of Physical Therapy (check out our Back to Health program!) as well as classes from Leveled from 1 (beginner) to 5 (advanced).  Check out our website for more information on our classes and to find the schedule. We hope to see you in class soon!