Just Because You Can Doesn’t Mean You Should – Rehabbing from Surgery and Why Private Instruction Matters

I’ve just passed the official two-month mark from my (double) surgeries, and I thought I was (maybe) ready to venture back into some Pilates.  Although I can’t get out of bed without rolling to my side, moving my legs over the edge, and pressing myself up with arms (it’s really more of a controlled fall than anything), I know that Pilates is a great place for rehab, because even if you can’t do much, there’s still plenty you can do.

Of course, I didn’t fully take off two months from exercise (have you met me?). But, I stuck to walking on the treadmill and doing some standing barre leg exercises (the fastest way I’ve found for me to bulk my legs and glutes… so if you think barre is slimming, I’ll remind you that every body is different). Although I have been avoiding any abdominal exercise, I can tell you that with every step, pulse, squat, and leg lift, I felt my abs. I’m also still feeling them (a lot) when I breathe deeply, sneeze, laugh, cough, or come from seated to standing. If you’re moving correctly, you use your core all day long.

Honestly, I was a little afraid of using my abs (still am). When you have had your abdominals stretched (through pregnancy or rib spreaders) or cut (through surgery, shark bites, or knife fights), you have an increased risk for developing a hernia where the abdominal wall has been weakened. And a hernia would be another surgery. And I do not EVER want to do abdominal surgery again.

And even though I have good ideas of what I would do to help someone rehab from the surgeries I had, I also know enough to know that having someone work with me privately is the safest way to go about it. Why? Just because I can do certain exercises does not mean that I should be doing them this early after surgery.  But, if I were alone, I would be inclined to try. A good teacher with all eyes on me, with my best interests at heart, would tell me: not yet. Stick with something more fundamental. Don’t stretch that deeply. Try it next week instead.

It’s kind of like how you shouldn’t be your own lawyer if you’re a lawyer. You shouldn’t be your own trainer or teacher if you are one.

There's no substitute for individual attention.

For years, I have done a private Pilates session every week. It helps me ensure my form is top notch, work on the most advanced exercises, and practice the basics, which is where most of the work really is. I cannot recommend it highly enough, especially if you have any kind of limitation – a pain, an injury, a recovered injury, a medical condition, etc.

(This is where I tell you we have amazing, comprehensively trained Pilates instructors with thousands of hours of experience that comprise our private instruction team. You should schedule a session with one of them.)

Since I know a lot of Pilates teachers read this blog, here’s what I did.

·      Footwork on the reformer

·      Hundred prep without springs (I was shocked I could do a chest lift!)

·      Frog and leg circles

·      Short box (set up long box way) – round back, flat back, and small twist

·      Stomach massage (round, flat, reaching)

·      Climb a tree, without full roll back, with my foot under the foot strap, on the Cadillac

·      Mermaid seated on the wunda chair with legs supported on a box

·      Elephant

·      Running and pelvic lift

·      Roll down bar roll back into step barrel and then progressing into rolling all the way down (and up)

·      Arm chair hug a tree and boxing

·      Arm chair chest expansion and a variation of pulling straps and T with a slight back extension

·      Standing press down on the wunda chair

·      Ballet stretches on the Cadillac (And where’s we get into the “just because you can doesn’t mean you should”…). After the side split, I turned (force of habit) to do the reverse split. My teacher said no, probably too much for today. Let’s save that for next week.

During my more hardcore, pre-surgery days. But steady and safe win the race, and I'll have a great scar the next time we snap this photo.

Right now, I feel a little sore. I haven’t tried to move my abs, remember, for two months, and both the incision and my ribs are still sore.

But, I’m happy. I’m glad to be back. I’m glad that I used my abs and they didn’t explode. And I’m grateful that I had someone watching my every move, looking out for my best interests, and deciding that the end split wasn’t in them (but that a variation of the hundred was, because had I been training me, I wouldn’t have done it yet).

Feeling more hard core,



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