Pilates for life!

Image from lifestylebylindsey.com

At the start of a new year, we thought we’d take a bit of time away from focusing on how Pilates can benefit different conditions, aches & pains and instead look at how Pilates can be a life-long habit, incorporated into your lifestyle. We are all meant to exercise for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week (yep, at least 5 days a week!), and children should exercise at least double that.

How many of you hear that and are put off because you don’t like gyms, don’t enjoy zumba/jazzercise/whatever exercise trend this year is going to throw at us? Does the thought of going out for a run makes you want to velcro yourself to the couch?!

If you already attend a Pilates class, why not increase the good feeling you get after a class by incorporating it into other days of the week and fitting it around your schedule? Listen to two clients who have come to Pilates for different reasons, and are sticking to it, not only to prevent recurrence of problems, but to boost overall health, give some ‘me time’ every day and incorporate enjoyable exercise into their lifestyle.

Chloe, 35, first came to Pilates when pregnant with her second child. ‘I didn’t have any problems during my first pregnancy but then had quite a short gap between pregnancies. I was very surprised when early on I started to get low back pain and started to struggle bending down to look after and play with my toddler. This got to the point where I was unable to walk for any distance without pain.

‘I went for a one to one Pilates session with a physiotherapist and was helped out with some exercises to do at home to help relieve my discomfort, I was also shown some safe strengthening exercises to help improve the power in my leg and bottom muscles which made walking slightly more comfortable. I was also reminded to get started with my pelvic floor exercises!

‘I was hooked! Although I was so busy at work and with my toddler, I was encouraged to take some time for myself every day, sometimes 5 minutes was all I could manage, but it was so important to me to get that time. I was able to get through the rest of my pregnancy keeping the pain under control.

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‘As soon as I had the baby I signed up for postnatal Pilates as I knew how much I needed to do to get back into shape and be fit for my little ones. I started soon after my six week check and again made sure I took the time to do a little bit at home each day as well as my weekly class. It was even tougher to fit that in! I really think that’s what helped me recover so quickly from the birth.

‘I am now back to work and managing to fit in some running and trips to the gym in my lunch breaks. I’m even busier at home, but still try to get that daily five to ten minutes to myself as it gives me such a mental boost and helps me know I’m looking after my body long-term.’

Alan, 40, is a former rower turned triathlete. ‘Years of rowing and repetitive training had taken its toll on my back. Yes, I was fit, but I was inflexible and would get frequent bouts of pain all through my spine and often into my shoulders and hips. I saw a Physiotherapist who explained that my core muscles were not as strong as they could be and the load was being taken by muscles which weren’t supposed to work so hard to hold my posture. The physio suggested Pilates and I eventually tried a class.

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‘I could have kicked myself for not going sooner! After my first session I felt better already – taller, stretched out and much more comfortable with moving than I had felt in a long time. I couldn’t wait to go back again the next week and eventually signed up to two classes a week.

‘As part of my training I had always done some daily stretching, first thing in the morning and last thing at night. I wondered if maybe my routine was right for me as I had been doing the same stretches for years – hamstrings, quads, calves, shoulders. I booked myself in for a one to one Pilates session where we went over what I did, how much time I had to work at home and what I was hoping to achieve, The Physio designed a programme which really goes for the areas where I tend to stiffen up regularly and also gave me some exercises to support these joints in my spine to prevent them from stiffening up quite so readily.

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‘Even though I’m 20 years older than when I started rowing, I feel in better shape than ever. The one change has been the Pilates and it’s been a great addition to my training!’

So Pilates is not only if you are recovering from an injury or working through pain, think about how good it makes you feel and how you could experience that more frequently. If you’re not sure what you should be doing at home, see us for a one to one where we will personalise a programme for you.

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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