Pilates: A Path to Being Pain-Free

by Leslie Braverman on July 9, 2017

Pacific NW Pilates is a specialty studio. We’re for the fit, healthy or injured—we approach each client as an individual. Personalized Pilates programs mean we pay attention. And, we don’t shy away from clients who are in pain, because we know that exercise and movement re-education are part of the path to recovery.

Here, three PNWP clients tell their stories of beginning Pilates in pain and finding their way back to a healthy body.


A working mom shifts her perspective about exercise to regain a healthy, pain-free body.

Deedra performing the Mermaid on the Pilates V2 Max

Deedra began Pilates at PNWP in the winter of 2015 with acute neck and shoulder pain and a plan to get back to work in a month. A mother of twins, Deedra speculated that she was not ready for the bootcamp-type program she’d started after having her babies. “I wish I had realized how much my body changed after pregnancy, nursing and caring for my children,” she remarked.

After an initial Pilates assessment, Deedra began a coordinated program of private Pilates and treatment with a physical therapist at Element Wellness and Sports Rehabilitation—one of several therapeutic teams that collaborate with PNWP. When she started Pilates she expected to come to the studio and sweat, but the PNWP approach was different. Deedra was guided to slow down, address specific muscle groups and be more precise. She reflects back on her first Pilates classes saying, “I hadn’t realized how disconnected I was. Breaking things down made all the difference.”

The stability chair is one of the specialty pieces of Pilates equipment at PNWP that assists Deedra with foot, knee and hip alignment for balance.

The Pilates process has shifted her views. “I was trying to exercise in ways that I wasn’t equipped or ready for. I’ve always connected to intense and high impact exercise—running, burpees and squat hops. With the more fluid, gentle approach of Pilates, I am much stronger. With Pilates I am working with my body instead of against it.”

Today, Deedra is back to her job of treating patients as an occupational therapist. Her pain is vastly diminished and she’s started taking a beginning group reformer class in addition to her private lesson each week.

“I see big changes. I am back at work and I haven’t had any significant set-backs.”


Pilates provides a slow and steady approach to lasting change.

PNWP client Roger practices the Front Splits on the Pilates Reformer

“I used to have so much pain. I couldn’t sit, stand up, or work at a computer without hurting,” Roger exclaims. He’s a firm believer that the combination of Pilates and Graston Technique (soft tissue work that uses specific tools) has made all the difference in how his body feels today. Roger has taken one or two group classes a week for years. As his body has gotten healthier, he has been able to integrate other activities back into his life.

“It’s the best exercise for overall strength, flexibility, balance and for using muscles in a healthy way. I get the best guidance and corrections at PNWP. I love the specific cues I receive in each class.”

Arms pulling straps on the Pilates Reformer long box helps Roger strengthen his upper back.

Roger loves the results. Pilates exercise has strengthened his upper back and improved his posture.

Roger applies Pilates principles to other exercise, and he’s most proud of his ability to feel his upper back muscles. “I don’t get corrected to lengthen my upper back like I use to, so I know it’s getting better,” he says with a big grin. “Now, it’s like I have a new body. It’s amazing.”
“I’ve learned that it’s really important to work the small muscles and to use less weight. I don’t have to power through everything.” And, his advice to others: “Be patient with yourself. Change will come.”


Pilates gives a broken athlete the missing pieces to feel whole again.

Linda had always been active and a natural athlete. She played squash and racquetball into her mid-sixties. “I took it for granted,” Linda says, shaking her head.

Then, surgery dealt a great surprise. Activities that had been simple before became difficult. Sometimes impossible. She struggled to regain her sense of ease and mastery.

“I needed more than physical therapy. PT wasn’t broad enough and rehab only focused on my hip.” she says. She was looking for all-around fitness; she was strong and coordinated but could feel a lack of balance and symmetry.

Three things guided her interest in Pilates: She knew her whole body had been affected from the years of pain, she didn’t like gyms, and discovered she was too inflexible for yoga.

“I was impressed by the initial assessment at PNWP. It was thorough, and it made sense to me. Pilates felt in-sync with my needs.” Linda began to unwind movement patterns and escape poor coping strategies that had led to the deterioration of her hips and eventually double hip replacements.

“It’s a myth that as you get older you can’t do as much. I’m back kayaking and I’m learning to climb trees!”—Linda

After years of pain followed by hip surgery her deep hip muscles and gluteals didn’t work. Linda now has strength back in her legs. Her flexibility and coordination have improved. She loves the feedback Pilates provides to break old patterns and relearn effective alignment. “Since starting Pilates, I have an increased sense of well-being. Things feel possible. I feel whole again.”

Stories like these provide evidence that Pilates is not just another fly-by-night fitness fad. For these three clients and many others, Pilates is a lifestyle choice. It’s the difference between living with pain or pleasure.

PNWP intends to be a resource for Deedra, Linda, Roger and others for a very long time, and we’re here for you too.

Leslie Braverman, PNWP co-owner

Pacific NW Pilates is studio, school and fitness family under one roof. Click to learn more about our education courses and workshops, private studio sessions and group classes. Or call for details: (503) 292-4409.

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