Oct 3

Pilates for amputees

The longer I am teaching Pilates, the more I see the many different reasons people come to us; some have heard it will give them a flat stomach, some want to support their marathon training.. Yet in the last month I have worked with the following conditions: sciatica, slipped disc (many with more than one), plantar fascitis, “unexplained” lower back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, Pelvic Girdle Pain…the list goes on. All of my clients inspire me in some way or another but one rehab client in particular has really made a personal impact on me with her bravery and strength of character.

M has diabetes and therefore had right leg amputated below the knee a few years ago. Months later she also lost her big toe and 3rd toe on her remaining foot. 6 weeks ago she walked into a class with me and amazed me with her positive attitude and strength. In her first class she walked in with a stick and every time we moved around between pieces of equipment she used her stick to get her to the next place. Two weeks later she walked in without a stick and last week she balanced on one leg while standing on a wobble board.

In our first class I confess I was nervous. Although my teacher training was fantastic in terms of rehabilitation, it didn’t go so far as to equip you with how to deal with prosthetic limbs and I wasn’t entirely sure how to work with one, but, together, M and I have found out what works and what doesn’t. We have challenged her in ways that just weeks ago she didn’t think were possible and it has been a truly life changing experience for both of us. Not only are we working to strengthen her legs and give her confidence in standing; she is learning to move her pelvis and articulate her spine (which had long since been forgotten) in order to improve her gait and allow her hips to move when walking.

In just a few weeks the difference in her movement, and also her confidence, has been just wonderful and I am very proud to be able to call her my client.

Exercises we have done include:

Breathing, engaging abdominals

Pelvic tilts and pelvic lifts – double and single legs

Wide hip rolls

Adductor squeezes with magic circle

Open book/lazy angel/thoracic stretch

Push throughs on Cadillac – straight and twisted

Reformer footwork

Side lying – clams, side leg lifts, adductor lifts

Leg springs – circles and scissors

Hamstring stretch

Glut stretch

This is a useful podcast from Balanced Body Pilates that was posted on youtube for anyone else who might be interested: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQD7_LZsUB4&feature=results_video&playnext=1&list=PL17FDE6AD9E35693E


2 Responses to Pilates for amputees

  1. Kristina T says:

    I have been a right below knee amputee since March of 2002. I have wanted to find an exercise program that will help me to get in better physical shape and strengthen my body without causing me to bulk up with to much muscle tone.
    I’ve heard that Pilates is wonderful for this, and I was hoping that you might be able to give me some helpful information now that I see you have worked with a below knee amputee with much success.
    If there is any information you can give me that would help, I would be ever so greatful to you.
    Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    • Grace says:

      Hi Kristina

      Thanks for getting in touch. Of course I would be very happy to help, it might be a good idea if we had a chat on the phone about this so I can get a better idea of your needs before I give you any advice. I might also be able to point you in the right direction of some classes in your area. Feel free to ring me on 07958 556455 or email me on hello@your-pilates.co.uk and we can talk in more detail.

      Best wishes

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