I have always loved to teach movement and being able to use movement as a rehabilitative tool. What I did not know is that one day I would be my own rehab client.
Five days before moving to Canada, I suffered an accident that would change my life. I broke my right ankle and needed to do emergency surgery that postponed my travel by forty days.
The day after surgery, I woke up with one plate, nine pins and my leg in a cast. I do not have words enough to explain the pain I was feeling; not only the physical pain, but also the emotional pain. As a Physiotherapist, I’d treated many patients with the same condition, but I was feeling lost and didn’t know what to do next.
I did Physiotherapy sessions every single day after I got rid of the cast. My initial treatment started with manual therapy to release the fascia, soft tissues and contribute with a better range of motion.
My whole right leg was extremely weak and I could not feel my foot muscles. I had to relearn how to walk and how to step on the ground. My hip joints were extremely sore due to the weight I had to handle when walking with the crutches.
Pilates was part of my life, but for a moment I completely forgot what the method could do for me. It took me some time to understand that I had to be the protagonist in my own rehab; same thing I said to my patients. Suddenly one single word was shining in my head: Movement! That was the moment I figured out Pilates would be my best tool and I started to practice again every single day.
I used a Mat, a Sitfit, a theraband and my own disposition. I created my own exercise routine, which included all the ankle movements: plantar flexion, dorsiflexion, inversion and eversion. Overtime I added proprioception exercises with unstable surfaces and toes movements: Flexion, extension, adduction and abduction to my routine. The idea was to recruit not only superficial, but also very deep muscles. I did a very specific work with my big toe, stimulating it to move separately from the other toes and vice versa. Besides ankle and foot exercises, I started to practice Mat exercises, a lot of hip mobility exercises and many Squats with several variations to get legs and core stronger.
After just a few days, I noticed many differences in my body. Physically, I was improving day by day; emotionally, I was connecting my body and my mind with my own “Return to life” – like Joseph Pilates used to describe his method. Breaking my ankle helped me find a new meaning for Pilates that helped me face my rehab with more courage and put me back on the right track. Today, this method also challenges me to give my clients this same feeling: you can all get what you need and what you want if you just maintain the discipline to reach it.