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.

AC bikes

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”).

AC Reformer

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!

AC Congrats

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

919-361-0104         info@insideoutbodytherapies.com

Pilates –It’s Not Just For Dancers

**Guest post by Katie Kennedy, PT, DPT, CSCS, PMA®-CPT**

Pilates –It’s Not Just For Dancers

Historically popular among dancers, Pilates has become a key training component for all athletes, including runners.

When I tell people I’m a Pilates-based physical therapist, their first reaction is often, “Oh…you must work with a lot of dancers.” My response is, “Pilates isn’t just for dancers.”

I work with all types of athletes in their rehabilitation from injury and to help them become stronger in their respective sports. For me personally, I do Pilates for one main reason, which is to be a faster runner. Not only can Pilates training help correct muscle imbalances and prevent injury, but it also helps develop key capacities for better running.

Olympic running coach Jack Daniels states that some of the most important aspects to running are VO2 max (oxygen capacity), and running economy (runner’s movement efficiency). Pilates addresses these areas through controlled breath work.

The very first thing that you learn in Pilates is how to breathe to your fullest capacity. Take a moment and inhale. Where is your breath going? Are you breathing into your throat, middle chest, or all the way down into your low belly? Pilates incorporates a breath that fully utilizes your lungs with every movement. Fewer, more effective breaths during a run means less energy spent on breathing.

Pilates also emphasizes developing a strong core and improving flexibility, coordination, and balance.

Running is a series of single leg bounds. Without proper balance and stability through one’s body, energy can be wasted on unnecessary steps or balance recovery. Core strength gained through Pilates training aids with body control by enhancing transverse abdominal and hip strength for dynamic pelvic stability. With good stability through the pelvis, the hips are allowed to move within their maximum range. Having full hip extension allows a runner to access their glutes for a powerful push off, providing more force production with every foot strike.

Pilates involves smooth, flowing movement. Quality of movement is much more valuable than the quantity of movements. Practitioners develop uniform movement patters and become more aware of their body and where it is in space. These concepts and heightened body awareness can translate to more fluid running form and cadence. Moreover, the flexibility and mobility acquired throughout the whole body can decrease the likelihood that an athlete will get injured, especially common running ailments such as ankle sprains, iliotibial band tightness, or knee pain.

I love Pilates because of the natural benefits it provides—from developing core strength to improving running mechanics. Like running, however, Pilates takes hard work and dedication to become stronger. Whether you’re training for 5Ks or marathons, consider complementing your current training regimen with Pilates to improve your running times!

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Katie, a three time marathon runner, is a Pilates-based Physical Therapist at InsideOut Body Therapies in Durham, North Carolina. She is using Pilates to attempt to better her marathon PR of 3:04 (2015 Boston Marathon) at the upcoming 2016 Boston Marathon.

Call the studio (919-361-0104) to schedule a Pilates-based Physical Therapy evaluation with Katie and visit our website to see her full bio.