How Pilates stopped my Mum from becoming immobile.

My Mum had reached the point that she struggled to walk for more than 10 minutes without feeling chronic pain. Things looked bad, until she started Pilates.

Suddenly, life can change…

When she was 31, she had meningitis. 25 years later it transpired that there had been excess spinal fluid in her spinal cord, threatening to rupture at any time. Thankfully, medical staff recognised something was very wrong and she had spinal surgery which saved her life, but left her with permanent neurological pain.

Fast forward to 2019. The medication she took every day reduced her pain only slightly, and she had adopted a posture that caused scoliosis. Her spine had moved into an S shape position because her shoulder was constantly shrugged up on one side and the pain wore her out.

Postural deviations are more common than you might think. Our jobs and daily activities, as well as illness and injury, can cause us to adopt unnatural positions that, over time, cause shifts in our skeleton and muscles. These shifts in posture can cause all kinds of aches, pains, joint problems, and mobility restrictions that we often put down to “getting old”.

It is important to note, that some issues are caused by injury or illness that means we may never regain full mobility and that consistent medical intervention is needed. So it is important to make sure your medical professional agrees that exercise will be safe and helpful before you begin any fitness regime.

But you can change your life too.

In Mum’s case, she was given the go-ahead. Exercise was a safe option for her and the Doctor mentioned Pilates as an option. 

In February 2020, I travelled to Spain to visit Mum. We spent a week practicing a short 30 minute Pilates routine. We started with some basic moves and one week later, I returned home leaving her to practice more.

Over the next six months, she did the routine every day. We would catch up during phone calls and each time she would report that she had been practicing the workout every day without fail. She said she felt better and could move more and walk for longer.

It was about eight months in, when I received a video message from my sister, that I realised just how much she had improved. Here was my once physically restricted Mum on all fours, chasing my tiny niece around the living room floor at full speed.

One year later and my Mum is fully mobile and mostly pain-free. She can walk for miles and jogs with the dog twice a day, she works part-time in a charity shop and she now takes part in all my online classes — Pilates, HIIT, and weight training. She is strong and agile, she has amazing flexibility and her physical endurance seems endless. 

My Mum is 67 years old and 18 months ago faced the prospect that she would soon need a mobility scooter and may even be destined for a wheelchair. Now, I’m pretty sure she could run a marathon if she wanted to, she even went paddleboarding recently.

I am incredibly proud of the commitment and motivation she has shown and the progress she has made, she has dedicated herself to her physical improvement and completely changed her own life for the better.

She has also inspired me, I went on to complete a specialist exercise referral qualification, so I could work with other people with health conditions.

It just goes to show, starting with small steps and showing up every day can make a significant change to your future and you never know who you will inspire along the way.