Author Archives: Pilates Connection

Pilates Fix-Ups: Are you making these mistakes in Tabletop position?

As those who come to our classes know, we generally commence our routine on the mats before progressing to the equipment based exercises. The foundation of many floor exercises starts with Tabletop legs, which is an exercise in its own right, but also leads on to several variations. The tabletop position challenges the transverse abdmoninus muscle (a deep core muscle that’s difficult to engage in many other ab exercises), and when done correctly, builds strength and stability in your abs and back.

It may look easy, however getting into this tabletop position correctly can be tricky. It’s important that the right muscles are engaged at the right time, to prevent “doming of the abdomen”, and curving the spine, which can lead to injury.

Take a look at the video below, where Larissa demonstrates what you should and shouldn’t be doing when getting into tabletop position. If you’re still in doubt, please check with us next time you’re in the studio!

 

 

 

 

 

Clinical Pilates Vs Regular Pilates – What’s the difference?

With the huge explosion in popularity for Pilates worldwide, there seems to be new studios regularly popping up on every corner. The same can be said for our local Lane Cove area, with locals spoilt for choice when it comes to the variety of Pilates classes on offer.

Whether classes are offered as part of a gym membership, in a local community space, or in a  purpose built studio, there is a class for everyone – but what is the difference between these classes, and which is best for you?

Essentially it depends on what you’re trying to get out of Pilates. If you’re fit and healthy, and are happy to work in larger groups with minimal individual instruction, then a gym solution may be fine. If however you are new to Pilates, or have any specific imbalances or past / current injuries, then a more tailored program with a small teacher to student ratio is recommended.

You may also hear people use the term “clinical Pilates”, which is often run by Physiotherapists, and other highly qualified trainers. This is the sort of Pilates that we offer here at Pilates Connection, where we also hold the highest level of Pilates training certification as a member of the professional body, The Pilates Alliance of Australasia. Whilst we don’t diagnose injuries or conditions, we do work alongside many healthcare professionals to develop injury management and rehabilitation programs for the individual.

Ongoing staff training and development is key to our success here at Pilates Connection.  One of our core instructors, Larissa is a trained Physiotherapist, whilst Owner and Instructor Liane is a fully qualified Pilates Instructor and a certified Structural Integration Practitioner. This may give you a better understanding as to why we’re continually analysing movement patterns and restrictions before prescribing exercises to address any recognised imbalances or specific conditions or pathologies.

Here’s a quick look at the core differences between Clinical Pilates and Regular Pilates (larger group classes on the mat or reformer):

The Power of Pilates – Philip’s Story

Today, we’d love to introduce you to the most senior member of Pilates Connection – 95 year old Philip from Greenwich. He’s still working from an office here in Lane Cove, and enjoys flying  seaplanes in his spare time. Philip’s family encouraged him to come to Pilates as a way to gain more core strength, stability, and greater mobility, which is ever so important as we get older.

We hope you enjoy, and are inspired by Philip’s story – he’s a man of very few words (but still has a sharp sense of humour!)

Pilates Connection Member – Philip, 95 yrs young from Greenwich

What were your main reasons for starting Pilates?

It was Philip’s adult children that encouraged him to give Pilates a try. They wanted him to be able to maintain and improve his fitness, mobility and stability.

Philip also confesses to having a “dodgy right knee” and a rather “wonky left shoulder” which we’re working on.

How long have you been doing Pilates?

Since May 2018.

What made you choose Pilates Connection? 

Ask Philip – and he says “It’s because it’s downhill from my office”, however his family wanted a personalised program where Philip could be supervised one on one, with professional and highly trained instructors that know and understand his short and long term goals.

How has Pilates helped you?

Yes, they have made me “fit as a fiddle”! From a studio perspective, we’ve worked hard on his core strength to improve stability, and also his muscle strength and join mobility. We’ve been thrilled with Philip’s progress so far – he’s a true inspiration!

What’s your favourite exercise or piece of equipment?

The Cadillac !

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

Jane’s Story 2

Rowena’s Story

Tom’s Story

Gerald’s Story

Paul’s Story

Jane’s Story

Ran’s Story

Liz’s Story

The Power of Pilates – Tom’s Story

Today, Pilates Connection member Tom is sharing his Pilates experience with us. After suffering a burst disc in his back, Tom suffered major back pain, and was told he would most likely never be able to play competitive sport again. Find out how Tom made a comeback to competitive basketball below ….

Pilates Connection Member – Tom F, 50 something from Chatswood West

What were your main reasons for starting Pilates?

It was recommended to me after I had had a major issue with my back. Having had back pain for several years, I burst a disc in my back about 4 years ago. The recovery was very slow and at one point it looked like I would not be able to do anything “active” going forward. Pilates was recommended to me and it has been a game changer. I am back playing competitive Basketball, something they said I would never be able to do.

How long have you been doing Pilates?

I’ve been doing classes at Pilates Connection for 3 years.

What made you choose Pilates Connection? 

Initially I choose the studio based on the location in Lane cove as it is very convenient for me. But I soon discovered there were several convenient studios in the area. I have stayed with Pilates Connection because of their professionalism, the great staff and the approach they take in working with their clients. They took the time to understand why I came, what my goals were and have the skills and talents to help me achieve those goals.

How has Pilates helped you?

As mentioned above I was coming to terms after my back injury with never being able to fully exercise or play sport again. Pilates has been a major factor in proving that wrong.

What’s your favourite exercise or piece of equipment?

The reformer –  because it’s always best to exercise whilst laying on your back!

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

Jane’s Story 2

Rowena’s Story

Tom’s Story

Gerald’s Story

Paul’s Story

Jane’s Story

Ran’s Story

Liz’s Story

Flexibility Training for the upcoming football season

Whether it’s rugby union, league, AFL or soccer you play at an elite or social level, now is the time to start pre-training for the upcoming Winter season. We’ve written before about flexibility training, and there is much debate in professional circles as to which type of training is best for which sport. At the end of the day, studies have shown that increased flexibility can increase performance in some sports, and also greatly reduce the risk of injury (because let’s face it, sometimes our aging bodies can’t keep up with our teen like enthusiasm!)

What is flexibility?

Flexibility is defined as the range of motion of your joints or the ability of your joints to move freely. It also refers to the mobility of your muscles, which allows for more movement around the joints. Range of motion is the distance and direction your joints can move, while mobility is the ability to move without restriction.

Here are some excerpts from an article on Sport Fitness Advisor to give you more insight into the benefits and different types of flexibility training:

The Benefits of Flexibility Training

By increasing this joint range of motion, performance may be enhanced and the risk of injury reduced (3,4). The rationale for this is that a limb can move further before an injury occurs.

Tight neck muscles for example, may restrict how far you can turn your head. If, during a tackle, your head is forced beyond this range of movement it places strain on the neck muscles and tendons.

Ironically, static stretching just prior an event may actually be detrimental to performance and offer no protection from injury (5,6). The emphasis is on “may” however, as a closer examination of the scientific literature shows that effects are often minimal and by no means conclusive.

Muscle tightness, which has been associated with an increased risk of muscle tears (7,8), can be reduced before training or competing with dynamic stretching. For this reason many coaches now favor dynamic stretches over static stretches as part of the warm up.

Competitive sport can have quite an unbalancing effect on the body (9,10). Take racket sports for example. The same arm is used to hit thousands of shots over and over again. One side of the body is placed under different types and levels of stress compared to the other. The same is true for sports like soccer and Australian rules football where one kicking foot usually predominates. A flexibility training program can help to correct these disparities preventing chronic, over-use injury.

Of course, a more flexible athlete is a more mobile athlete. It allows enhanced movement around the court or field with greater ease and dexterity. Some other benefits may include an increase in body awareness and a promotion of relaxation in the muscle groups stretched – both of which may have positive implications for skill acquisition and performance.

Types of Flexibility and Stretching

1. Dynamic flexibility — the ability to perform dynamic movements within the full range of motion in the joint. Common examples include twisting from side to side or kicking an imaginary ball. Dynamic flexibility is generally more sport-specific than other forms of mobility.

2. Static Active flexibility — this refers to the ability to stretch an antagonist muscle using only the tension in the agonist muscle. An example is holding one leg out in front of you as high as possible. The hamstring (antagonist) is being stretched while the quadriceps and hip flexors (agonists) are holding the leg up.

3. Static Passive flexibility — the ability to hold a stretch using body weight or some other external force. Using the example above, holding your leg out in font of you and resting it on a chair. The quadriceps are not required to hold the extended position.

A flexibility training program can be made up of different types of stretching:

Dynamic stretching
Ballistic stretching
Static Active stretching
Static Passive stretching
Isometric stretching
PNF stretching
Which type of flexibility training is best?

It depends on the sport and the athlete’s outcomes – something which will be examined more closely in the articles below. As a general rule, dynamic stretches are used as part of a warm up and static stretches or PNF flexibility training is used for increasing range of motion.

To read the full article and reference notes – click HERE . Don’t forget, Pilates is also a great form of flexibility training, and we’re always happy to customise a program specific to your sport and your current or desired body condition.

Related Articles:

Tingling numb toes, or burning pain on the ball of your foot?

Do you sometimes feel as though you’re standing on a pebble in your shoe, have tingling or numbness in your toes, or a strong pain in the ball of your foot? Chances are, you may have Morton’s Neuroma – which is a thickening of the tissue around one of the nerves leading to your toes (usually between the 3rd and 4th toes). This often causes a sharp, burning pain in the ball of your foot, leaving your toes often stinging or feeling numb.

Morton's Neuroma, Foot Pain

Swelling of the foot nerves

It’s a painful condition that can be caused by frequently wearing high heeled- shoes, or participating in high impact activities like running, and other sports that put excess pressure on the feet in tight shoes like rock climbing, ballet, and snow skiing.  Those who have bunions, flat feet, or high arches are also more susceptible to Morton’s Neuroma. 

What are the treatment options?

  • Put the Jimmy Choo shoes back in the wardrobe, and try wearing lower heeled or flat shoes for a while. Pick a shoe that has a wider toe base to ensure your feet aren’t cramped.
  • Do some regular stretches and exercise the feet by rolling them over a tennis ball, spiky ball or a frozen water bottle
  • A trip to the Podiatrist may be a good place to start to see if orthotics may help balance the pressure on your feet. You could also try over the counter gel foot pads from the chemist.
  • You may need to cut back on high impact training while the pain subsides.
  • For severe ongoing cases, see your GP, who may also recommend steroid injections into the area.

If you suffer from any of these symptoms, be sure to tell us when you’re next in the studio at Pilates, and we’ll give you some specific exercises to help relieve the pain and discomfort.

Further Reading:

The Foot Group Lane Cove

Sydney Orthopaedic Specialists 

 

The Power of Pilates – Jane’s Story

We hope you all enjoyed a well earned break over Christmas, and we’re delighted to share the first of our Power of Pilates member stories for 2019.

Today we’d like you meet Jane, who came to Pilates Connection back in 2017 after realising her body and muscle tone was starting to go downhill, with work commitments leaving her fatigued and time poor. Ongoing knee problems were making most forms of exercise difficult for Jane – here’s her story …..

Pilates Connection Member – Jane from Lane Cove

What were your main reasons for starting Pilates?

My ongoing knee problems made most forms of exercise almost impossible. I recognised that my body was not working well and  work commitments were leaving me very tired with little time to exercise.

I could see that I was losing muscle tone and body function and I felt like my skeleton and joints were taking too much pressure – it was all spiralling in a downwards fashion !

How long have you been doing Pilates?

I’ve been doing classes at Pilates Connection since September 2017.

What do you think about the instructors at Pilates Connection? 

I have found the unique ratio of instructor to client a most rewarding, efficient and relaxing form of exercise. The focus required during each Pilates session means that they speed by and I leave feeling relaxed, energised and stretched out.

The instructors will often give me homework and I find this sense of shared responsibility between the instructor and myself very encouraging. I love coming to Pilates.

I enjoy the fact that the instructors are treating me as more than my injury.  Whilst tailoring and modifying exercise where necessary to accommodate my knee issues, they also manage  to work  the rest of my body rather hard, so I leave each session feeling like I’ve  worked my whole body.

How has Pilates helped you?

I have travelled through two phases so far. Firstly, my Pilates instructors needed to assess my strengths and weaknesses and identify problem areas. I see phase one as me having gained a new insight into my knee weakness and the imbalance in the muscles around my knees.

And I see phase two as me understanding my body better and appreciating  that If I did not take action soon to address my muscular and neural pathway weaknesses , I would very soon have new problems beyond my sore knees.

I am currently in a phase where I continue to build strength to assist with my troubled knee joints, as well as building on my overall body strength.

What’s your favourite exercise or piece of equipment?

I find the range of exercise on offer for each specific muscle groups quite amazing. I particularly enjoy the Trapeze Table and the Reformer, although for me, the full combination of floor work and all the equipment make this studio special.

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

Rowena’s Story

Tom’s Story

Gerald’s Story

Paul’s Story

Jane’s Story

Ran’s Story

Liz’s Story

 

The Power of Pilates – Rowena’s Story

As we transition to our brand new studio, we’re seeing new clients from all walks of life joining Pilates Connection for very different reasons.

Today we’d like you to meet Rowena, a Lane Cove local, small business owner, and busy mum to two boys. Rowena is fit and active, and loves playing sport, recently rupturing her ACL and injuring her knee during a netball match. To get back to playing netball, she’ll need an ACL reconstruction, and was advised by her specialist and physio to adhere to a strict rehabilitation program for 3 months prior to surgery, which has also included regular Pilates sessions.

Here’s Rowena’s journey with Pilates Connection as she heads into surgery this week …

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

What were your main reasons for starting Pilates?

I stopped suddenly and twisted awkwardly during a recent netball match, where I also heard something in my leg  go “pop”. Scans revealed that I had a complete rupture of my ACL (the elastic like ligament that runs through the centre of your knee to provide stability), and I was off to see the physio the following day. On advice from my knee specialist, I started an intense 3 month exercise regime to help strengthen the muscles around the knee to regain stability, and get my range of motion back to normal before surgery would take place. Aside from my phsyio exercises at the gym, the surgeon suggested extra help via a tailored Pilates program would help keep me motivated and on-track.

How long have you been doing Pilates?

I’ve been attending Pilates and Barre classes at the local gym for a few years now, but after my  knee injury, I’ve been doing classes at Pilates Connection once a week for the past 10 weeks.

What made you choose Pilates Connection? 

On recommendations from my specialist and Physiotherapist. I was told it was important to find a studio that had highly qualified instructors, and small / individual classes so there would be someone to tailor my program each week and check for correct form during exercises.

How has Pilates helped you?

I’ve loved the fact that there isn’t a set routine each week, and exercises on the day are determined by how my knee and body was feeling at the time. I’ve spent a lot of time working on my range of motion through very specific isolation exercises and have been able to increase the intensity of these as I got stronger. I’ve really felt a big difference in my glutes, core and hamstrings, which have all been strengthened to help the stability of my knee. I’m now due to have knee surgery this week, and will return back to Pilates Connection soon to continue my post-surgery rehab, with a view to get back on the netball court as soon as possible!

What’s your favourite exercise or piece of equipment?

Probably the reformer, as there are so many variations on the exercises you can do. I also love the fact that you can load up the springs to make things more challenging, and it’s a killer on the core exercises!

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

Tom’s Story

Gerald’s Story

Paul’s Story

Jane’s Story

Ran’s Story

Liz’s Story

 

Every day activities that can lead to spinal compression

Are you guilty?

Everyday we do activities that can lead to spinal compression without realising it.

Put you hand up if you:

  1. Slouch over a desk or a computer all day;
  2. Carry a baby on your hip for hours;
  3. Carry a very heavy ( but incredibly good looking tote) all day;
  4. Read Text messages all day on your phone;
  5. You have more high heels than Carrie Bradshaw and you wear them every day.

If you do any of the the above you are a candidate for spinal compression.   Spinal Compression can start from you neck and go all the way down to your your lower spine.  If your spine is compressed you can experience numbness, weakness and pain.  Compression can also put some pressure on your internal organs.

To alleviate this compression you need to work on your core strength.   This is where Pilates can help.  Pilates works on strengthening your core and lengthening your muscles.  We can work with you in our studio group classes or via private classes.   We really concentrate on working with you to improve your posture and core strength, and anyone who has attended our classes will attest to the fact that we talk about these two areas constantly !!

However there are a few things you can do to improve your posture right now:

  • Be mindful of your posture, concentrate on sitting up straight and not slouching.
  • If you spend hours at a desk, get up once an hour and  walk around.
  • Take a break from the high heels and find some glam flats.
  • Clear out that tote bag and only carry around what is necessary (do you really need 20 pens in your bag??)

Related Articles:

Engaging Your Core, and Pelvic Floor

Salute to the almighty glute!

We’ve recently posted a story about our youngest Pilates Connection client – Tom, and how he, even as a national long jump champion, is still in training to correctly activate his glutes, part of his ongoing rehab for a hamstring tear. That got us thinking – athlete or not, we should ALL be activating our glute muscles correctly, in Pilates class and in everyday life – here’s why:

The real benefits of a strong butt!

Aside from working your booty to perfectly fit that pair of tight jeans, your derriere is one of the most important muscles in the body for a wide range of reasons. Your glutes — the minimus, medius and maximus — are the largest and strongest muscles in your body, and the three muscles work together to abduct, rotate and extend the hip. By strengthening these muscles  your posture, athletic performance and overall strength will improve drastically. Here are some advantages of having strong glutes:

1. Injury Prevention

Strengthening and activating your glutes in the correct way plays a pivotal vital role in reducing your chance of injury. Having strong glute muscles can prevent serious injuries to your knees, lower back, groin and hamstrings, all of which are essential to simple daily activities. Weak glutes can cause an imbalance in the hip, which may lead to excessive medial rotation of the femur and lateral tracking of the patella, potentially causing knee pain, and can also cause poor lower back alignment which can lead to some serious injuries including sprains and tears in your back muscles.

2. Enhanced Athletic Performance

Your rear-end is capable of generating an incredible amount of power! Stronger glutes will improve your speed, agility, jumping skills, and quick side-to-side movements will also become much easier. Every time you take a step, your glute max shores up your pelvis and SI joint for stability. Whether you participate in sport or running at a social or elite level, the stronger your glutes, the more efficient and explosive your movements will be.

3. Better Posture

Have you heard of “sitting disease”? If you spend much of your day sitting at a desk or in a car (or on the couch), too much sitting can actually lead to organ damage, muscle degradation, and damaged backs. By strengthening your glute muscles, your spine will have more support and your pelvis will automatically begin to stabilise. Both of which are essential to improved posture.

How To Strengthen Your Glutes

While it’s important to build up strength in your glute muscles, it’s also essential to train your mind to activate or fire up your glutes when performing specific exercises, or in every day situations (like lifting or carrying heavy things). The sequence in which muscles are activated or deactivated in Pilates movements can make all the difference in getting the most out of an exercise, and helping protect other areas of your body prone to injury.

Next time you’re in the studio, as us to “check out your butt” (promise there won’t be any wolf whistles), we’ll just run your through a few checks to see if your glutes are firing as they should. If you show signs of glute weakness, we can give you some specific exercises to practice at home.