I went to my first Pilates sessions with a personal trainer and studio classes in 1999 hoping to improve my posture and possibly relieve some upper back and shoulder tightness. Although I improved my core strength and saw some improvement in my back and shoulder tightness I discontinued regular training after 1 year. Over the next several years, I sampled other studios and trainers, but never felt the results fully justified the time and expense.
In 2009, I started experiencing joint pain in my ankles and feet, then my fingers. I saw a rheumatologist who diagnosed the pain in my fingers as osteoarthritis due to normal aging and pain in my ankles as overuse from running. She suggested walking instead of running and managing any pain with acetaminophen. I stopped running, but instead of feeling better I started to have mild to severe pain in nearly every joint in my body and tingling in my extremities. The rheumatologist told me if I couldn’t manage the pain with acetaminophen, the next step was steroids. Then all of a sudden, the lingering tightness in my right shoulder suddenly became worse and I could no longer lift my arm over my head. My left knee was also especially painful. I attributed the pain to arthritis related to an old ski injury (tears in my MCL and ACL). I was worried arthritis was taking over my body and I would eventually have no choice but to take stronger medications with potential side effects. It was at that point my sister suggested I give Pilates another chance, but this time with Junko.
From my first session with Junko I started to understand how my body is affected by different movements. For example, favoring my left knee caused my right hip to tighten up and it became a vicious cycle. Junko works with me to build strength when I’m in her studio and teaches me exercises I can do at home. I realized the pain in my joints was due to tightness and lack of circulation, not arthritis. Since starting Pilates with Junko, my core strength and posture have improved significantly and most importantly, I’m pain free without any medication!