My goal during most mat classes is to get most of you to be able to make the proper connections in their muscles, keep proper alignment and to be pain-free while doing so. Usually this all works out well……I say usually because some times I can see that people are struggling out there on the mat with trying to master a Pilates move or they are grimacing with pain. Okay– there I am standing in front of you cueing and cueing- not only every inhale and exhale but also modifications for every fitness level and injury need. I sometimes feel like the comedian that is not getting any laughs ” hello, is this thing on?”
Modifications are not a bad thing, they do not mean you are “wimping out” or not performing Pilates. As a physical therapist, I have trained and rehabilitated people with numerous injuries and dysfunction. The way they get back to full function is by doing modifications and gradually re-training the muscles, nervous pathways and bony alignment. Learning a new movement is a process. Much the same as learning to dance, walk, throw a baseball etc. If not done correctly or in proper alignment things hurt and if you already have injury or inflammation it’s going to hurt worse.
The learning curve of Pilates is much the same, especially if you have low back pain, neck pain or shoulder impingement problems. I will instruct you in the proper way or the modified way to perform the move to gradually ease your body back into a movement or to help prevent further injury. SOMETIMES– due to your body structure or just the way you are made by the great designer, you may never master a move. That is okay. I will say that again— that is okay ! I will never be able to do a back flip due to my height. You may never be able to do a roll-up due to your increased, immoveable lumbar lordosis. No biggie. You can master another move and be great at that. There are over 500 moves that I can teach you:)
Most importantly – you should NEVER work through the pain. If you have pain there is always, ALWAYS a modification that I can give you. When you come to physical therapy we don’t cancel your appointment because you have pain— we modify and find a way to allow you to get the same benefits just in a different way. So know that you are still gaining something from a modification, you are still teaching your body something, you are still progressing– you are just doing it in a smarter way for your specific needs. So come to class when you have pain, come when you are stiff, come when you feel strong….. all are welcome on the mat since Pilates and your highly trained instructor can meet everyone’s needs by giving you MODIFICATIONS. To quote my idol– They are a good thing.