Keeping up your Pilates practice over the holidays

It’s that time of year again – across the country cries can be heard: ‘It can’t be December already!’ Yes, that’s right,’tis the season to stay indoors, eat a lot and move very little. Which is wonderful, until a few days in where you start feeling a bit ropey. All the hard work you’ve done through the year seems to evaporate as the old aches and pains start to make their presence known. That is, until you had ‘the handy Pilates Plus Guide to surviving Christmas and maintain your mobility and fitness’. Bit of a mouthful, but we’re working on it!

So, we started off by thinking of ways you could incorporate Pilates into your Christmas routine. Firstly, you could roll down as you wind the tinsel round the tree!

xmas rolldown

Then how about getting your toes in on the act and putting up the decorations with your feet, introducing: the Christmas shoulder bridge!

xmas bridge

And to get the decorations a bit higher up the tree, the Christmas side bend!

xmas side bend

Doing a ‘Pilates demonstration’ in your front room not your thing? Then we maybe have some slightly sensible options to help prevent stiffening up as you watch ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ for the 37th time. Your Pilates instructor can issue you with our handout of home exercises. We also recommend the APPI DVDs available from their website: http://www.ausphysio.com

Are you somebody who has beautiful posture in your Pilates class and then slouches out the door? If so, make this Christmas the time that you remember all the postural points your instructor tells you about during your classes. Your little black dress or kilt outfit will thank you for it at the Christmas parties – you don’t see A-listers slouching down the red carpet! Good posture can make a nice outfit look amazing, and yes, you have to work extra hard at it in heels!

   Image from www.bennettclinic.net

Even five minutes a day can help maintain mobility, the next few exercises have been chosen as they give you a good mobility workout and can be done in a small space. If you are not comfortable on your wrists you can do these exercises on a clenched fist, keeping the wrist straight or come down onto your elbows. Stop if any of the exercises are uncomfortable and see your Physio/Pilates instructor for an alternative.

Cat – Camel. In 4-point kneeling, start by inhaling and engaging your centre, exhale and arch your back into a deep C-curve, dropping your head between your arms. Inhale and hold then slowly unravel the other way as you exhale, just lifting your head far enough to look at the floor in front of your hands. Repeat 8-10 times.

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Thead the Needle. In 4-point kneeling, exhale as you thread one hand through to twist your spine. Inhale and hold. Exhale and draw the arm back through, lifting it up to the ceiling to rotate the spine the other way. Inhale and hold, then repeat 6-8 times each side.

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Spine Twist. With or without an elastic band. Sit cross legged, or in a position you find comfortable. Inhale and grow tall, exhale rotate to the side, inhale and hold, rotate a little deeper if you can. Exhale back to the centre. Repeat to the other side. Repeat 8-10 times to each side.

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Spine flexion stretch. Start sitting with your legs to the sides. Sit tall as you inhale, exhale reach forward and curve your spine forwards. Inhale and hold, stretch a little further if you can. Exhale and return to the start. Repeat 8-10 times.

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Think about all the cues you hear in your Pilates class each week. Checking the turkey in the oven? Engage your centre as you bend down! Reaching out to fix a decoration on the tree? Keep your shoulders melted down your back! Christmas carolling? Find neutral pelvis! Pouring mulled wine? Lengthen through the back of your neck! Before you know it, the entire festive season will be filled with Pilates…

If you do any festive Pilates moves, please post on the Pilates Plus Facebook page or tweet us @PilatesPlusPhys, we’d love to see how you keep yourself fit over the holidays!

xmas Laura and Tess

Wishing you all a wonderful festive season and best wishes for the new year from Laura and Tess and all the Pilates Plus team. We look forward to seeing you rested and ready for some new challenges in 2014!

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Pilates for Triathletes

Triathlon training is time consuming as it is, so why spend time doing Pilates?

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Triathlon is considered one of the most challenging endurance sports. Triathletes require mental and physical stamina, postural control and kinaesthetic integrity.  It is not only about the mileage…

Pilates works on your powerhouse, the CORE of the body by enhancing strength, flexibility and control, key aspects for aspiring triathletes. Specifically Pilates works on your transverse abdominus, rectus abdominus, erector spinae, obliques and gluteals.

Pilates allows you to simultaneously improve your core without gaining undesirable bulk and weight yet tones pure muscle.  Increasing core strength results in better posture, increased power efficiency and output and potentially reduces your risk of injury.  Pilates isolates and integrates muscles groups which assist functional movement patterns improving alignment of the pelvis giving you a stable base of support.  Consequently postural awareness and balance control reduce the risk of low back pain and other potential injuries.

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Swimming: Similar to swimming, Pilates is performed at a deliberate pace and utilises specific breathing patterns therefore translates well into the pool environment.  Neck flexibility and spinal positioning are also key to a good swimming technique, in addition streamlining is paramount to speed and reduced drag.  Specific Pilates exercises can improve streamlining leading to an effortless and efficient stroke pattern.

Cycling: Often leads to dominant leg development and less core and upper body muscular development.  Core strength is key to reducing the levels of fatigue and getting through those long rides.  Pilates improves muscular imbalances, alignment, core and upper limb strength enhancing pedal stroke and power output.

The kyphotic (hunched) posture that is required for cycling is less than desirable, prolonged periods in this position can potentially lead to injury if preventative corrective measures are not utilised.  The posture allows for excessive forward flexion of the lumbar spine, forward rotation of the hips and pelvis and often there is a shortening of the neck muscles too due to looking forward during riding.  This posture is one of the leading causes of low back pain in cyclists.  Shortened hamstrings and neural issues along with Itb/gluteal/piriformis injuries are often seen in both cyclists and runners. However, there is evidence to suggest that Pilates can improve and prevent low back and other common injuries by improving core, restoring postural alignment and muscle imbalances.

Running: It’s all about economy and efficiency – it should be smooth and effortless.  The repetitive movement of specific muscle groups during running can result in muscular imbalances.  Pilates can improve muscle flexibility which can not only prevent injury but lead to improved stride length potentially giving you the ability to run faster and longer!  Pilates also works on your breathing which is integral to a good running technique.

Tri Specific Exercises

Clam

clam

Focus: hips, thighs, buttocks (side-lying feet either on the ground or slightly lifted). Open hips to 45 degrees, slowly return together.

Repeat: 3×10 each side

(to increase difficulty add a resistance band around the knees)

Swim with Resistance Band

 swimmingFocus: spinal position and alignment/balance, buttocks, hamstrings, upper limbs. Start in four point kneeling slowly take opposite arm/leg away from body in a straight line (watch spinal position do not allow your back to arch).

Repeat 3×8 each side (to increase difficulty add a resistance band)

 

Leg Pull in Prone

leg pull

Focus: spinal aligment, transverse abdominus, upper limb strength, scapula control. Assume a plank position slowly lengthen one leg back and lift a few inches off the floor without losing spinal alignment (do not allow you back to arch).

Repeat: 2×10 (alternating sides)

One Leg Stretch

 one leg stretchFocus: spinal position (including deep neck flexors), transverse abdominus, pelvic floor, thighs, hips. Spine should not be too arched or too flat on the floor, legs start up at a 90degree angle, extend single leg away from the body making sure the back does not arch

Repeat: 2×10 (alternating sides)

Triathlon photos © http://www.darrochphotography.com

Pilates photos © http://www.pilatesplusphysio.co.uk