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Toby Brookes

Palo Alto, CA

Six months ago I underwent an experimental reconstructive knee surgery - an artificial meniscus implant. The procedure was so new my doctors weren’t really sure what post-surgery physical therapy would be most effective to get my patella to properly track again, thus ensuring a full recovery. As such, I undertook a lot of traditional therapy that was mostly ineffective. In fact, much of it actually set me back in my recovery.

I had heard about Pilates from a good friend who worked at Balanced Body® as well as some other people who had taken classes. To me it sounded like a versatile conditioning tool that could address a variety of objectives - flexibility, strength, core conditioning, balance, etc. I decided it was time to try it.

What a difference it has made.

Although it is still early days in terms of my involvement I am beginning to understand its powerful contribution to increased flexibility and core strength. My knee tends to tighten up over the course of several days if I don't stretch my ham strings, quads and abductors/adductors. Several stretching routines on the Reformer take care of that quickly.

In addition, I need both strengthening and stretching of specific muscles in my leg, all of which affect the tracking of my patella. This can get tricky because a lot of traditional machine work will primarily shorten many of the muscles I need to keep long. This, in turn, displaces my patella leading to pain. On the Reformer I can do both simultaneously and if one or the other is getting out of synch, I know it quickly and can adjust the springs or the exercise itself. It's been a fantastic source of rehab.

As for the core, my golf game has markedly improved in terms of strength and flexibility, as I can turn more fully, and I seem more balanced over the ball.

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If you are looking to start a Pilates regimen I recommend finding a good trainer and giving it 6 sessions to see where you are. It’s pretty amazing how much progress one can make from that first session where your muscles seems to shake like a leaf, to the fourth where you can actually see them smoothing out as your musculature and surrounding tissue gets toned.

Toby Brookes does Pilates at Equinox Fitness in Palo Alto

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