A Week in the life of a jet-setting PT course whore

 In Background

You don’t know what you don’t know…right?

I have always been interested in learning, and traditionally as a Pilates teacher, I attended whatever courses were going in the Pilates world but was discouraged from attending any courses that covered content that ventured out of the field of movement.  As an ex-ballerina movement was natural for me to demonstrate and see in my clients. What was less clear was why clients couldn’t move. I could ask them to move differently but was this really addressing why they didn’t move correctly in the first place? To make a long story short, since venturing out into the world of non-movement training and therapy based courses, there has been no stopping me. The saying that “you don’t know what you don’t know” is authentic, and the more you do know, the more you realise you don’t know. Has that confused you? Let’s just say you can never stop learning.

Yes, I am a Recovering Perfectionist

As with all teachers, we want to perfect ourselves, and Stephanie Beeson heard a long time ago that “the best Pilates teachers were obsessive-compulsive perfectionists who’ve had enough therapy to get over themselves”, and there may be a bit of truth in that statement. I have been diagnosed with a condition called Ehlers Danlos hypermobility type, so I need a bit more perfecting than most.

A week in the life of a Course Whore

This week I set my self a hectic learning schedule. Sunday started with a trip to Birmingham attending day two of my Sports Therapy course with Birmingham Movement Therapy. Sports Therapy with a difference. What is being taught emphasises the pain gait theory which I have touched on in the past but have never integrated into my thought process in quite the same way Mike Grice, my tutor has. I am learning advanced tissue techniques, and Mike has a straightforward and transparent way of teaching which resonates with people like myself. I have already learned a few new moves that I will be able to add to my repertoire easily and was able to put to good use when working with one of our Pilates Therapy trainees on Monday when she came in with back pain. She felt immediate relief so a day well worth taking.

Catching the Red-eye

Wednesday evening saw me hopping on an overnight flight to NYC to attend a two-day course with Diane Lee (world-renowned Canadian Physiotherapist) who has developed the Integrated Systems Model (ISM). This course was sharing the culmination of her research into diastasis rectus abdominis, pelvic organ prolapse, urinary incontinence and the abdominal wall and its recruitment after pregnancy.

Morning Day One in the USA:

I arrived in a room full of local physiotherapists, most of them involved in women’s health, all looking beautiful with perfect hair. Then there was me, the Pilates therapist just off the night flight, a good deal older than most of them, looking tired, with hair I have not had time to cut for about a year and a half!  The first half of the day covered her latest research and her findings which was incredibly interesting and informative. Her research will change the way we look at woman postpartum and how we teach them to recruit their core.

Afternoon Day One – oh dear – time to reveal a bit about my history:

We then got stuck into a more practical assessment of each another. This was something I had been dreading. I had to prepare the girls as I have a history (after the birth of my three children) of an extremely large diastasis both above and below the umbilicus (belly button) and a hernia from the over-stretching of my already fragile connective tissue (due to my EDS). I had a hernia repair about two years ago which was a disaster. My surgeon managed to tether my abdominal tissues by using the wrong kind of stitches (non-dissolving) which caused me not only to be disfigured but to eventually slice through the tissues above the stitches creating many more holes as well as tethering,  I developed another hernia, and I recently had a second surgery. I now have mesh along with dissolvable stitches. To say I was of interest to this group was an understatement. Everyone had a perfect example of a train wreck of a belly. What did make my weekend was when assessing my abdominal wall Diane stated I had the best recruitment in the room and she celebrated by giving me a high five. She used ultrasound on my abdominals, which showed I was able to recruit and release my TVA at will through activation of my pelvic floor with only a little bit of coactivation of internal obliques at the site of tethering which she said she would consider completely fine as my TVA did not turn off. All those years of Pilates have probably saved me; also, I know the strategy for recruitment which I have been teaching my clients is sound.

Day Two with Diane:

This day of the course took us through a case study followed by more assessment, release techniques for overactivity and recruitment assessments to evaluate where people were at and how far to progress them with a clear strategy from Diane of how to improve and challenge the abdominal wall – entirely relevant for teaching Pilates!

Phew, what a week:

Now back in my hotel room trying to get my head around all the new information from the last week and how it can be integrated into my Pilates Therapy practice. Saturday after being bumped off my overbooked flight I am back in the UK after a right flying visit to the states but well worth it. I enjoyed sitting on a plane for six hours imposed relaxation before setting on all my clients this new knowledge on Monday.

If you are someone like myself and feel learning is essential and you don’t know where to start Pilates Therapy might be for you. Stephanie and I leave our egos at the door as we are all learners, no-ones knowledge or skills are better or worse than anyone else’s, it’s just different.

Happy learning!

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