Allison Oswald helps new mothers take their healing seriously.
The Pilates instructor and doctor of physical therapy first discovered her passion for women’s health while pursuing her doctorate. It was when she had children of her own, though, and observed that many of her peers didn’t know how to approach their own post-natal bodies that she knew she needed to get the word out. Now, at her Plumbline Pilates & Physical Therapy studio in Santa Monica, California, she helps women navigate their healing process and find balance from within.
Here, Oswald explains why it’s so important for us all to tune into our bodies and embrace each moment:
Live The Process: What early influences propelled you towards women’s health and physical therapy?
Allison Oswald: When I was a young child, my sister was sick, so we would go to the doctor’s office and the hospital often for visits. I remember not being afraid of those visits and thinking that the idea of making a difference and helping someone feel better was something that I could see myself doing.
I also grew up playing sports and loved being active and taking care of myself. Thankfully, I didn’t have any major injuries, but I always worked closely with coaches and trainers. I was aware of my health and wellness because I saw that, when I did take care of myself, I was then able to perform better in practice and in games.
And, although I wasn’t introduced to women’s health until I began my doctorate program, I would say that those two influences were pivotal in shaping my path towards physical therapy. I saw physical therapy as a way to connect and make a difference with people in a positive and healthy way.
LTP: How did you find your specific calling?
AO: During my doctorate program, I took a course in women’s health and instantly felt a connection. I knew that, from then on, I wanted to specialize in that field. I saw the need for educating and empowering women with knowledge about their bodies and how to best take care of themselves in all phases of life.
During both of my pregnancies, I noticed that many women didn’t know that women’s health physical therapy was available to them. So much of the work I do focuses on topics women are discussing for the first time and feel embarrassed and unsure of how to navigate, let alone who to seek out to help them.
Thankfully, with my pregnancies and recoveries, I felt like I knew how to care for myself. With my second child, I had diastasis recti, so I was fortunate to have the tools to recover from that successfully. But had I not known who to go see or what to do, I could possibly still be dealing with the symptoms.
LTP: What are some of the most common mistakes that mothers-to-be and new mothers make in terms of caring for their own bodies?
AO: The common mistake that I often see is that mothers don’t take enough time to care for themselves, especially in the first forty days postpartum (a.k.a. “the fourth trimester”). This is a time of healing, bonding, adjusting and finding a new normal.
I also commonly see women assume many things are “normal,” such as back pain or incontinence. And often times these symptoms are left ignored or overlooked. This leaves women not feeling their best, making it more difficult to navigate daily life, let alone be their best selves for their children. I encourage women to have a support system, ask for help and be open to receiving it.
LTP: You spend so much time guiding others. What wellness obsessions and rituals keep you feeling balanced and healthy?
AO: I am a huge fan of meditation and breathwork. I usually wake up a little earlier than everyone else in the house and take that time to set my intentions. I can honestly say that this practice really helps to keep me grounded for the rest of the day. I also love dry brushing in the morning and I am currently obsessed with using Nucifera on my body post-dry brush. I actually use Nucifera for everything—moisturizer, lip balm, hair mask—because it’s not only organic, but also feels amazing on the skin! I highly recommend the product to all clients and patients, and we sell it at my studio.
I also love to move my body: I own Plumb Line Pilates & Physical Therapy in Santa Monica. So, when I get the chance in between patients or at the end of the day, I will do some Pilates and foam roll. It always feels so good to get the body moving, even if just for a few minutes!
Last but not least, I am fan of eating and nourishing the body with good food for my family and myself. When I can, I will try to make my own bone broth and have at least a cup a day. If not, I go to my favorite spot on Wilshire, Belcampo. I also love trying out tasty recipes from my favorite food blogger, The Minimalist Baker, and also Goop!
LTP: What does happiness look like to you?
AO: Being with my family, spending time outdoors—whether out on a hike or at the beach—and eating healthy delicious food with good company, laughing and enjoying each other’s presence. Perhaps with a margarita or two in hand?
LTP: What does it mean to you to “Live The Process” and how can we all do that more every day?
AO: Often times, we are so focused on the end product that we forget that it’s the process that will shape us to get there. So, I would say: embrace each moment and be grateful for what has happened in your life and where it will take you.