Back Pain towards Black Belt - A Pilates Journey

pilates health & fitness Sep 17, 2018


Belle started Pilates with me in June 2009 when our then mutual Osteopath, who thought we would work well together, referred her to me for Pilates rehabilitation. 
Suffering from debilitating lower back pain caused by a Lumbar Disc Bulge (an injury from gardening), she had been reliant on a walking stick at times, was often bed-ridden and unable to work. 
At 33 years old she should have been enjoying life. Osteopathy was providing relief but she needed to strengthen her core and stabiliser muscles. Having previously tried Pilates at another studio with disappointing results, Belle was open to something new but also a little hesitant due to her negative experience. 
She was extremely motivated to take control of her pain and learn how to manage her condition. She readily absorbed all the information I gave her including a home program which she diligently stuck too on a daily basis. Pretty soon she was making amazing progress, and while there were flare-ups and set backs along the way, she had the resources now to manage this through her Pilates exercises at home complimenting her weekly studio Pilates  session with me. 
By 2011, Belle felt that she needed a new challenge and, I admit to my absolute horror, declared that she was going to recommence her childhood passion - Martial Arts! The type that involved high impact kicking, punching and throwing! I tried to look unperturbed and thought I would talk her out of it. There were so many reasons why she shouldn't do it - risk of flaring up the disc and further compressing the nerve, more disc bulges and possibly spinal surgery, to name a few! However, nothing seemed to change her mind, which was also an early indication of the incredible determination and focus she possesses. I suggested she ask the Osteopath's advice and not surprisingly she was horrified too! Then in 2014, she moved to her current Dojo - White Wolf Dojo - and started training twice a week!
Something changed in Belle when she started Martial Arts; suddenly she had a strong purpose and an enormous goal, so I knew I had to support her to achieve her goals in any way I could. She showed me the movements she needed to execute at the Dojo, including any limitations she was experiencing, and I adapted Pilates exercises for her so she could fine tune & prepare her body for the rigorous training required. 
Again there were set backs along the way but she went from strength to strength; working her way up through the gradings, successful at each level,  inspiring everyone around her as she achieved every goal she set.
In May 2017, Belle injured herself as she was landing a jumping front kick during training and ironically her Lumbar Disc issues became the least of her problems. Belle had completely torn the Anterior Cruciate Ligament in her right knee with additional complexity from Meniscal Root damage as well.
This was a devastating blow after all her hard work and achievements. Surgery followed in June; Belle was instructed not to bear any weight on her right leg and had to walk with crutches for 2 months post the operation to ensure the Meniscal Root Repair healed well. After enduring a year of specific knee rehab under a Physio, supported with consistent Pilates training, Belle was ready to recommence Martial arts again in June this year. 
She could easily have given up and declared a return to Martial Arts all too hard. The training is extremely challenging, and again there have plenty of setbacks along the way, but her fierce determination has paid off with Belle now working towards her next goal - to be awarded Black Belt by the end of the year. Based on her past determination, I have no doubt she will achieve it.  
Belle jumped at the chance when I suggested she share her story. She wants to inspire others who may be suffering from similar issues to become pro-active and use Pilates to learn to manage their condition so they can go on to achieve their passions and goals just like she is. She truly has been a huge inspiration to me and everyone around her and I'm looking forward to sharing future achievements with her!
Belle is pictured above "Flying with Rachael Sensei" (Bellle's teacher)

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