Author Archives: Pilates Connection

Why is Pilates ACE for tennis ?

With Summer almost here, and the tennis season in full swing (sorry about the pun!), many of us will be dusting off our racquets and hitting the courts.

Tennis is a complex, physically enduring sport that requires a substantial amount of core strength as well as full body power, agility, balance, range of motion, and stamina. So, how can Pilates help reduce the risk of injury, or improve your tennis game (be it at a competitive or social level)?

imageEveryone who hears the word Pilates associates it with the Core. This describes not only the abdominal muscles but all the muscles that support the spine, helping you maintain your alignment which is key for precise body mechanics in ground movement and stroke execution. Because of the all-encompassing support provided by the core, strengthening it will help prevent injury.

Pilates exercises will also improve your ability to manage the balance between mobility and stability in your shoulder, elbow and wrist joints. The mind-body connection that Pilates employs is so complete that it contributes to mental discipline on the court. Being able to control the breath and mindfully move the body is key in situations requiring mental toughness.

Can Pilates help me treat or prevent Tennis Elbow?

The repetitive motion of a tennis stroke, particularly the backhand, can lead to stress, tearing and inflammation of the muscles and tendons of the wrist extensors. These are the muscles that bend your wrist back and attach to the outside of your elbow. The resulting pain on the outside of the arm near the elbow is indicative of something not only chronic but degenerative.

Pilates can help treat and prevent tennis elbow by methodically stretching and strengthening not only the localised muscles, but the entire body, resulting in much more efficient movement and many more years of play.

Here are some tips for prevention or treatment:

  • When performing daily repetitive activities (using a computer mouse, carrying groceries, etc.) make sure your wrist is in a neutral position. This position could be seen as a flat wrist, midway between flexion and extension, and utilizes all supporting muscles uniformly.
  • Use light resistance to exercise your wrist extensors, focusing on the portion of the movement that returns your wrist to the starting or neutral position.
  • Make sure your wrist flexor and extensor muscles are well stretched and adequately warmed-up before playing or doing any strenuous activity.
  • Ensure that your tennis racquet has the appropriate grip size and your string tension is current.
  • Tennis elbow also responds very well to Kenesic Myofascial Integration (KMI), which is also offered here at Pilates Connection (you can read more about KMI in our recent blog article HERE.)

If you’d like to find out more about tennis specific exercises in our studio or for KMI information and bookings  – please contact Liane on 0400 012 693

The Power of Pilates – Paul’s Story

Many new to Pilates have the perception that it’s just for women. This couldn’t be further from the truth, with Pilates growing in popularity among men of all ages and fitness levels from pro athletes to those recovering from surgery. Here at Pilates Connection, we have several male members who are up for the challenge, looking to improve their strength and flexibility.

Here’s Paul’s story in the next installment of our “Power of Pilates” series, showcasing how Pilates is making a difference in the everyday lives of our members.

We hope you’re inspired by these real life stories, and if you’d like to share yours with our Pilates community, please see Liane when you’re next in the studio!

Pilates Connection Member – Paul from Lane Cove

Pilates Connection Member - Paul

Pilates Connection Member – Paul

What were your main reasons for starting Pilates?

To build more flexibility. I had plenty of aerobic exercise i.e. swimming but wanted to develop good core strength and balance.

How long have you been doing Pilates?

Since 2009 – 8 years

What made you choose Pilates Connection?

Liane had begun her Pilates with my wife Cindy, and then went on to gain her certification to teach Pilates. Exercise is hard – so it is always good to do it with enjoyment. Liane and team provide a fun environment with a lot of jocularity/jokes etc, and it’s great to know you are doing yourself good – whilst having fun. Also it is very apparent that Liane and team “know” their stuff.

How has Pilates helped you?

Pilates has enabled me to recover from a knee and hip replacement – by enabling me to build out the requisite strength in those areas – prior to the operations and then afterwards as part of a rehab program.

Recently I had a traumatic period in hospital, and Pilates has helped me rapidly build up my strength as part of my rehab.Learning to stretch properly, and become more flexible.

What’s your favourite exercise or piece of equipment?

I enjoy all aspects of the Pilates equipment – as they say “variety is the spice of life” – and the multiple pieces of equipment make it enjoyable and interesting as you move around the floor. If I had to choose – the reformer just pips everything else.

Here’s the links to our other Member’s stories:

Jane’s Story

Ran’s Story

Liz’s Story

 

The Power of Pilates – Jane’s Story

Proving to be one of our most widely read blog articles, we’re continuing our “Power of Pilates” series, showcasing how Pilates is making a difference in the everyday lives of our members.

We hope you’re inspired by these real life stories, and if you’d like to share yours with our Pilates community, please see Liane when you’re next in the studio!

Pilates Connection Member – Jane from Lane Cove

 

What were your main reasons for starting Pilates?

I wanted to be able to be more flexible & have more strength. Also I had a “few” ongoing issues, and needed to get on top of them

How long have you been doing Pilates?

Since 2014 – 3 years

What made you choose Pilates Connection?

I’ve loved engaging with the Pilates teachers, and meeting a great group of people.

How has Pilates helped you?

Learning to stretch properly, and become more flexible.

What’s your favourite exercise or piece of equipment?

I love the Cadillac (trapeze), as it really stretches my hips out.

 

Here’s the links to our other Member’s stories:

Ran’s Story

Liz’s Story

 

 

 

Guide to a Good Night’s Sleep

At Pilates Connection, we’re constantly asked by our members about the magic recipe for a good night’s sleep. There are many factors that contribute to this – including your mattress, bedding, environment, diet, health, and the position you sleep in.

While we can’t cover all of these in one article, we thought we’d focus on sleeping positions, as there is some research behind this topic. Depending on your individual circumstances and health, you may find that some positions are better for your body, and will help you wake up in the morning with fewer aches and pains.

This article below was originally published by Hello, a company dedicated to inventing and building products to help enhance people’s lives. Enjoy the read (and we hope to see you all well rested and full of energy after a great night’s sleep!)  ….

We all have a preferred sleeping position, whether it’s on our sides, our backs, or on a specific side of the bed. It turns out that there’s actually some scientific research behind sleeping positions, and how they can affect our health.

Which sleep position is actually best?

According to National Sleep Foundation, there are four main sleep positions: back, stomach, side, and in a fetal position (which is essentially a variation of side sleeping). Sleep experts generally think sleeping on your side is the best, but there are many variations. When you do sleep on your side, it’s best to place a pillow between your knees and keep your knees slightly bent, which “keeps the pelvis in a straight line and prevents unnatural twisting, according to Business Insider.

Side sleeping is the most common, according to The Wall Street Journal. More than half of people, about 57%, start their nights sleeping on their sides, 17% fall asleep on their backs, and 11% sleep on their stomachs, while the remainder vary their sleep positions throughout the night.

 

How does your sleep position affect your health?

Sleeping on your back can potentially cause back pain, so placing a pillow under your knees to create a more natural spinal curve might be a good idea. Generally, the least recommended position is sleeping on your stomach, since it can cause lower back or neck pain.

According to The Wall Street Journal, there can be benefits to other sleeping positions as well: Sleeping on your back with your head and neck elevated can help you deal with acid reflux, while sleeping on your side can help with both sleep apnea and snoring.

How does your sleep position affect your brain?

Research from Stony Brook University looked at the potential effects of sleep positions on brain waste. Scientists recently discovered that a toxic protein called beta-amyloid is removed from the brain while we sleep, according to the NIH.

This is important because this specific toxin is known for building up in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s. The Stony Brook researchers found that sleeping in a lateral position (on your side, ideally with a pillow between the legs, and under the middle section of the back) was best for effectively removing brain waste, which naturally builds up as we sleep.

So, how should you sleep?

While there are benefits to different positions, It’s impossible to tell exactly what might work best for you without considering other conditions. So go with what feels right based on which areas of your body are more likely to cause you pain (if it’s your hip, for example, sleep on your side).

In addition, if you suffer from digestive issues like heartburn, studies found that sleeping on the left side reduced heartburn while sleeping on the right side increased it. If you’re struggling to decide which sleep position is best for you, or have a more serious medical condition that should be considered, talk to your doctor to see if you should switch it up for a good night’s sleep and better overall health.

The Power of Pilates – Ran’s Story

Here’s the second installment of our “Power of Pilates” initiative, showcasing how Pilates is making a difference in the everyday lives of our members.

Our members come in all shapes, sizes and ages, and for a variety of reasons, each with their own unique story to tell. We hope you enjoy reading about the Pilates journey that unites us all together, and if you’d like to share your experience, please see Liane when you’re next in the studio!

Pilates Connection Member – Ran from Lane Cove (40 something)

What were your main reasons for starting Pilates?

I was having significant problems with my lower back which was preventing me from doing my sport and causing me a lot of pain.

How long have you been doing Pilates?

I’ve been doing it at Pilates Connection for the last 4 years.

What made you choose Pilates Connection?

The teachers are extremely good and I always leave feeling better than I did when I arrived at the class.

How has Pilates helped you?

My back and core are now a lot stronger and I only get pain on rare occasions. Pilates has also improved my overall strength and flexibility which is helping my sport

What’s your favourite exercise or piece of equipment?

Its difficult to pick one exercise I like the most, what I enjoy is that there seems to be an infinite number of different exercises, so you never get bored.

The Power of Pilates – Liz’s Story

We’re pleased to present a new initiative on our website and Facebook page, allowing current Pilates Connection members to share how the “Power of Pilates” is helping their everyday life.

Our members come in all shapes, sizes and ages, and for a variety of reasons, each with their own unique story to tell. We hope you enjoy reading about the Pilates journey that unites us all together, and if you’d like to share your experience, please see Liane when you’re next in the studio!

Pilates Connection Member – Liz from Lane Cove (40 something)

What were your main reasons for starting Pilates?

Following intensive treatment for breast cancer last year, I wanted to get as strong and flexible as possible to prepare for surgery. I was also dealing with a lot of after effects that left my body not quite working in the same way as before. It felt very empowering to be in control and be able to steadily build core strength on my own terms and at my own pace.

How long have you been doing Pilates?

14 months

What made you choose Pilates Connection?

A friend recommended Liane’s studio because of its highly personalised nature. There are a maximum of 4 people in each class, often less, and the instructors all get to know everyone. We all come along with our own issues that need addressing but I can’t think of anyone that wouldn’t benefit from Pilates.

How has Pilates helped you?

After my surgery and an unlucky run with infections, I could barely move my arm or shoulder. Pilates Connection really helped me with an individualised program to help regain movement and flexibility. The earlier ‘pre-hab’ work also made a big difference. It really is a fantastic exercise course as you build at your own pace. Today, without doubt, my core is 100% stronger than it’s ever been before. In fact my surgeon actually filmed me doing a sit up to show her other patients – she couldn’t believe it!

What’s your favourite exercise or piece of equipment?

I love the foam roller. It can fix a thousand things, whether you’re rolling out tight shoulders or stretching out all your body parts. Plus once you get the hang of it you can easily use one at home.

Thaw out your Frozen Shoulder!

What is Frozen Shoulder?

Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, is a condition characterised by stiffness and pain in your shoulder joint. Signs and symptoms typically begin gradually, worsen over time and then resolve, usually within one to three years.

The bones, ligaments and tendons that make up your shoulder joint are encased in a capsule of connective tissue. Frozen shoulder occurs when this capsule thickens and tightens around the shoulder joint, restricting its movement.

Doctors aren’t sure why this happens to some people, although it’s more likely to occur in people who have diabetes or those who recently had to immobilize their shoulder for a long period, such as after surgery or an arm fracture.

Symptoms

Frozen shoulder typically develops slowly, and in three stages. Each stage can last a number of months.

  • Freezing stage. Any movement of your shoulder causes pain, and your shoulder’s range of motion starts to become limited.
  • Frozen stage. Pain may begin to diminish during this stage. However, your shoulder becomes stiffer, and using it becomes more difficult.
  • Thawing stage. The range of motion in your shoulder begins to improve.

For some people, the pain worsens at night, sometimes disrupting sleep.

Risk Factors

Certain factors may increase your risk of developing frozen shoulder.

Age and sex

People 40 and older, particularly women, are more likely to have frozen shoulder.

Immobility or reduced mobility

People who’ve had prolonged immobility or reduced mobility of the shoulder are at higher risk of developing frozen shoulder. Immobility may be the result of many factors, including:

  • Rotator cuff injury
  • Broken arm
  • Stroke
  • Recovery from surgery

Systemic diseases

People who have certain diseases appear more likely to develop frozen shoulder. Diseases that might increase risk include:

  • Diabetes
  • Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism)
  • Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Tuberculosis
  • Parkinson’s disease

Treatment

Most frozen shoulder treatment involves controlling shoulder pain and preserving as much range of motion in the shoulder as possible. In severe cases, your doctor may also recommend surgical and other procedures.

Medications

Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as aspirin and ibuprofen, can help reduce pain and inflammation associated with frozen shoulder. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe stronger pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory drugs.

Therapy

A physical therapist can teach you range-of-motion exercises to help recover as much mobility in your shoulder as possible. Your commitment to doing these exercises is important to optimise recovery of your mobility.

Here at Pilates Connection, we are currently helping treat a number of clients with Frozen Shoulder, via specific routines designed to stretch both the posterior and anterior muscles of the shoulder, as well as doing range of motion and shoulder strengthening exercises. Regular Structural Integration (KMI) sessions can also help improve shoulder mobility and associated pain caused by Frozen Shoulder.

If you’ve had an injury that makes it difficult to move your shoulder, or think you may be in the early stages of Frozen Shoulder, talk to us about exercises you can do to maintain the range of motion in your shoulder joint.

Source: Mayo Clinic

 

 

 

Beating Winter back pain

Temperatures are falling, and you’ve started to notice a familiar ache in your neck, lower back, or perhaps another part of your spine that was previously injured. You assume that the two things are connected – colder weather and discomfort in your back muscles and joints – and you hope that you won’t be racked with pain all Winter. Just be thankful that here in Sydney, we don’t have to shovel snow from our driveways through Winter!

To date, there is no scientific evidence linking cold weather to an increase in back pain. One thing we do know is that when you’re cold, the muscles, tendons and ligaments in your back tighten and become less flexible, thereby making them much more prone to injuries.

The takeaway from this is that Winter back problems may be avoidable when you wear the right clothing to keep you warm, stretch your muscles regularly, and stay active rather than hibernating during Winter.

Combat cold-weather pain with your own heat

If the cold makes your pain worse, try incorporating heat therapy into your daily routine. Heat therapy decreases stiffness and promotes healing through increased circulation.

Here are a few ideas for adding heat to your routine:

  1. Apply a hot pack, warm towel, or heating pad to the painful area. Simply doing this for 20 minutes at a time may be enough for temporary pain relief.
  2. Use over-the-counter heat wraps. Available in most grocery stores/pharmacies, heat wraps can provide warmth for joint-related back pain and other symptoms for up to 8 hours at a time.
  3. Try water therapy. You may experience pain relief by swimming in a heated indoor pool a few times per week, or by soaking a whirlpool or hot bath.
  4. Stay active. It can be tempting to hibernate during cold weather, but inactivity can increase some types of pain. Doing a few pelvic curls, and gentle abdominal exercises each morning and night  will help keep your muscles and joints moving, and increase your circulation.

Weather changes are unavoidable, but you can take steps to manage the worst effects of it. Please see one of our Pilates Connection instructors the next time you’re in the studio if you’d like some exercises to take home to help with Winter back pain.

Don’t let knee pain slow you down

Most people experience knee pain at some point in their lives. Sports, exercise and other activities can cause muscle strains, tendinitis, and more serious injuries to ligaments and cartilage. For some, knee pain can be so severe that it limits daily activities. For others, mild knee pain may be a chronic hindrance to the active lifestyle they desire. In either case, chances are that you’re dealing with a knee problem that shouldn’t be ignored.

The knee joint is one of the most used and vulnerable joints in our body. It is connected to our thigh and shin bone by ligaments alone. The muscles in the thigh, including the quadriceps, adductors, hamstrings, and abductors all play a part in keeping a balanced tension on the ligaments connected to the knee joint. When one muscles group is weaker or tighter than the rest, it causes imbalance and leaves the knee joint vulnerable to injury and pain.

What Causes knee pain?

Knee pain can be divided into three major categories:

  1. Acute injury: such as a broken bone, torn ligament, or meniscal tear
  2. Medical conditions: arthritis, infections
  3. Chronic use/overuse conditions: osteoarthritis, patellar syndromes, tendinitis, and bursitis

What are knee pain symptoms and signs?

The location of the knee pain can vary depending on which structure is involved. With infection or an inflammatory process, the whole knee might be swollen and painful, while a torn meniscus or fracture of a bone gives symptoms only in one specific location.

The severity of the pain can vary, from a minor ache to a severe and disabling pain.

Some of the other findings that accompany knee pain are

  • difficulty walking due to instability of the knee,
  • limping due to discomfort,
  • difficulty walking up or down steps due to ligament damage,

What are risk factors for knee pain?

  • Biomechanics: The knee joint is complicated in its operation and is used frequently throughout the day. Any change in the movement of the joint (leg-length difference, change in walking style due to back problems) can cause subtle changes and cause pain and injuries.
  • Excess weight: The stress on the knee joint is increased with excess weight. Obesity also increases the risk of osteoarthritis as the cartilage breaks down more rapidly.
  • Overuse during repetitive motions as are found during certain exercises (jogging, skiing) or work conditions (long periods of kneeling) can cause breakdown of cartilage and lead to pain.

Injury Treatment and prevention

In most cases, as soon as a knee injury occurs, the RICE method — rest, ice, gentle compression and elevation – can help speed recovery. After you seek medical advice and a diagnosis, many health professionals will suggest gentle exercise and strengthening of the area once inflammation and initial pain has gone down.

Specific Pilates exercises performed on equipment and the mat are very useful in the course of rehabilitation for the knee, treatment of an injury, and strengthening for prevention. Pilates treatment will focus on tailored exercises to restore function to your knee and strengthen the leg muscles that support it (Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Hip abductors, adductors and external rotators and the lower leg muscles). Those with biomechanical abnormalities (pain caused through body misalignment), may also benefit from orthotics and Structural Body work to help bring the body back into optimal alignment.

For more information on knee injury treatment and prevention, contact Liane at Pilates Connection on 0400 012 693

 

 

 

Power into the Football season with Pilates

Spurs do it and AC Milan do it. David Beckham, Brad Friedel and Ryan Giggs owe their long careers at the top to it. Whether you play football, rugby league, union, or AFL as a weekend warrior, or seasoned professional, Pilates can help you be stronger for longer!

Pilates is a great weapon to have in your arsenal, as it promotes flexibility by strengthening and lengthening muscles, engages the core for stability, and helps to focus breathing – which in turn assists in maintaining stamina. Added to regular exercise and training, Pilates can help meet the demands of a long season, and importantly, aims to reduce potential injury. This is especially the case in the over 40’s category, where players are trying to re-live their glory days, but their bodies are struggling to keep up!!

Common Football Injuries

Most football injuries affect areas like the pelvis and groin, hip, thigh, calf, knee, foot and ankle. There are some very common injuries and by understanding how they are caused you may be able to avoid getting injured by using a Pilates injury prevention program.

  • Knee injuries are a frequent complaint in all forms of football, because the twisting actions or blows to the knee tend to place stress on the ligament. Quick speed and direction changes, pivoting, and sideways and backwards movements all place additional demands on the body, andwearing shin pads, and the correct studs in football boots will also help protect the lower limbs.
  • Hamstring Injuries are also in the top 5 of football injuries, and mostly originate from an imbalance between the quadriceps muscle and the hamstring muscles (located at the front and back of the thigh respectively). The quadriceps are a very large, strong group of muscles which help to extend (straighten) the leg. These muscles may forcibly overstretch the hamstring, placing excessive tension on the hamstring muscles. Hamstring injuries are most likely to occur during a sudden quick change in direction, or by over-extending the muscles in a kicking action.

“Research shows that most football injuries are caused by trauma, either having collided with opponents or from landing awkwardly after jumping for the ball. Nearly one third of all football injuries develop over a period of time, due to overuse or playing with slight injuries that develop into something more serious. It’s also been shown that older players are more liable to get injured!”

Prevention through strengthening

Pilates for football players focuses on building strength and flexibility in the hip adductors, back extensors, and hamstrings, and we can tailor exercises for each of these areas suitable for your current level of fitness and any previous injury concerns.

Whether you are a soccer goalkeeper looking to work on all-round flexibility and target the trunk and spine, or a forward / striker position, who needs a more explosive sprint nature to your game with a focus on hamstrings, the overall effect of a Pilates sessions is to speed up post-match muscle and joint recovery, and help meet the demands of a hectic season.

Further Reading / Viewing

If you still need convincing, take a look at this amazing training video below of NFL player, Antonio Brown featuring his Pilates routine:

 

And …. another article on how Pilates has helped many of our elite AFL players as part of their ongoing training:

http://www.aflplayers.com.au/article/power-of-pilates-helps-players-push-on/