How Sharon Helped Me

I began working with Sharon in 2010 after a snowboarding accident left me with multiple fractures in my spine, sacrum and coccyx. I healed wonderfully but lost a lot of strength and flexibility throughout my body. It seemed to me that yoga might be perfect for reversing some of the effects caused by months of limited mobility, however I just didn’t trust average yoga teachers to have the necessary knowledge for dealing with someone recovering from such severe injuries.

I googled “yoga physical therapy” and there, right in the first result spot, was Sharon Gary’s website. I was immediately impressed with the way she described her unique approach to physical therapy. I hoped that If I could learn how to safely perform yoga exercises I would be able to take that knowledge to a regular class whenever I wanted – but I got so much more.

Sharon’s approach turned out to be much more all encompassing than just yoga. She took on my case as a completely unique one, and taught me what I can do to strengthen my back and improve flexibility throughout my body. Most importantly, through her gentleness and sensitivity, she showed me how to get over the fear of working with such traumatized areas.

The slow almost meditative pace we worked at allowed me to get in touch with so much more of what is going on in my body and properly respond to it. This wasn’t blindly repeating some prescribed exercise ad-nauseam as I have done with other therapists. I was taught about what is happening in the body, how the exercises can help, and most importantly Sharon carefully watched me perform the exercises. Through her observation she was able to ensure I was in proper alignment, engaging the correct muscles, and that the exercises were right for me individually.

This is a big deal to me because it’s become so clear that an exercise done incorrectly is either ineffective, or possibly even harmful. Whenever I’ve gone to any other medical specialist, there’s an attitude of “they know best.” There’s no room for finding out whether it’s right for me. With Sharon, we’re actually working together, which is a unique and reassuring feeling.

Which is exactly what brings me to Sharon’s office for another set of visits 5 years after my original accident. Lately my passion has become ballet and I have been taking 4 to 7 classes a week and loving every second. Until I began to have a dull pain in my hip that made certain movements impossible. By visiting Sharon the problem became clear.

Although many ballet exercises seem quite simple, such as bending down into a plié, or brushing your foot forward in a tendu, dégagé or grand battement, I was making minor mistakes in alignment and muscle use that compounded into serious hip pain. These were details that my teachers couldn’t take the time to correct in a class of 30 or 40 students.

Sharon used her knowledge and experience as a former dancer to watch me perform the exercises and pinpointed the exact moments that contributed to my injuries. In some cases the positions actually “looked” accurate, however because of my previous injuries were dangerous for me to execute.

This is a key factor I’ve noticed in Sharon’s approach – she is invested in finding what is right for each individual’s unique body. This in itself has made my time with Sharon invaluable. It’s like taking a private master class!

In addition to ballet we also ran through a number of new poses from my yoga classes for her to evaluate and correct. The difference however is that unlike an average yoga or dance instructor, Sharon’s immense understanding of the human body allows her to slice through the myths and fallacies that have developed in these techniques over time. I will also add that you don’t need an exercise class to injure yourself; sometimes it’s the basic things we do each day that can take their toll. For this reason Sharon observed me as I sit, stand and walk to ensure those daily activities aren’t contributing to any problems.

The progress I’ve made in my classes since beginning physical therapy with Sharon has garnered much positive feedback from my teachers. It’s been very exciting. I can also happily say that I no longer have a hint of pain in my hip or back.

The corrections, modifications, exercises, myofascial release and joint mobilizations to my back and hip Sharon provided have left me pain free and immensely knowledgeable. Now it can be hard to watch other students in my yoga and ballet classes place themselves in potentially damaging positions. I can see it so clearly and it blows my mind that the teachers rarely say anything! This is a major reason I feel compelled to write about my experience; I encounter so many people who would benefit from Sharon Gary’s knowledge and approach. Despite returning to complete health I am continuing my appointments in order to prevent future injury. I would easily recommend Sharon to anyone regardless of whether they have any ailments.

Filip Olszewski, October 2015