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. 

 

The Power of Pilates – Tom’s Story

As many of you already know, we have all sorts of people training with us here in the Pilates Connection Studio – young, old, athletes, those recovering from surgery, and everyone in between. The fact we have small class sizes means we can tailor a specific routine for each and every one of you.

Today we’d like you to meet our youngest member, Tom, who is in his late teens, still at school, and is a highly motivated athletics star! After suffering a hamstring tear earlier this year, Tom has started regular Pilates with us to help with rehabilitation, and to strengthen his body, trying to avoid future injury. Tom has a great attitude, and is busy preparing for next season’s track and field competitions, where he hopes to qualify for the Open Age Group in Long Jump (check out his current Long Jump rankings):

NSW Under 18’s # one.
NSW Under 20’s # two.
Nationals # 3

We are all super impressed with Tom’s achievements, and look forward to seeing him compete in the future! Here’s Tom’s story in our continuing “Power of Pilates” series, showcasing how Pilates is making a difference in the everyday lives of our members.

If you’d like to share your story with our Pilates community, please see Liane when you’re next in the studio!

Pilates Connection Member – Tom from Lane Cove (late teens)

Tom training on the Reformer

What were your main reasons for starting Pilates?

A hamstring tear. Suffering a grade 2 tear with a bit of tendon damage was devastating and it lightly disrupted the big off season training program I had planned in the lead up to the 18/19 season. Pilates come up as way to get back on the track quicker whilst hopefully preventing further injuries in the coming years.

How long have you been doing Pilates?

I started in April 2018, so about roughly 2 months.

How has Pilates helped you?

Definitely the activation of my glutes. A bit underdeveloped and not “firing” correctly before Pilates (a main reason for the hamstring tear), I could definitely see the benefits coming through after the first few weeks in the studio, the glutes becoming noticeably more responsive and powerful when on the track or in the gym.

What’s your favourite exercise or piece of equipment?

I absolutely love the reformer, mainly because of its versatility. You could be sweating it out doing an exercise for the pure purpose of strength or having a good stretch on it before or after your session. But saying that, most of the other pieces of equipment are similar and adaptable, but I just enjoy the reformer the most!

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

Gerald’s Story

Paul’s Story

Jane’s Story

Ran’s Story

Liz’s Story

 

 

Pelvic floor and the core – are you activating correctly?

For anyone who has visited classes here at Pilates Connection, you’ll know that we only allow a maximum of 3-4 per class so we can focus on the correct technique for each and every member. Achieving great pelvic floor technique means activating the right muscles in the right order to get the most out of each exercise, something that’s difficult to monitor in larger class sizes, as the movements are very subtle and hard to notice.

One instruction you’ll hear us repeat over and over is “engage your pelvic floor” – why is this important, and how do you know if you’re doing it correctly? We’ve recently read a statistic that over 50% of people activate their pelvic floor incorrectly – in many cases this means they are using the wrong muscles, and weakening others, which can contribute to bladder leakage and even a prolapsed pelvis down the track.

Here’s some important information we thought you may find interesting,  sourced from Pelvic Floor First – an Australian Government initiative.

What is the Pelvic Floor?

The pelvic floor is the base of the group of muscles referred to as your ‘core’. These muscles are located in your pelvis, and stretch like a trampoline or hammock from the pubic bone (at the front) to the coccyx or tail-bone (at the back) and from side to side (diagram 1).

The pelvic floor muscles work with your deep abdominal (tummy) and deep back muscles and diaphragm to stabilise and support your spine. They also help control the pressure inside your abdomen to deal with the pushing down force when you lift or strain – such as during exercise.

Pelvic floor muscles support and help control the bladder and bowel in men, and the bladder, bowel and uterus in women

Why is it important to engage your pelvic floor correctly?

During exercise, the internal pressure in the abdomen changes. For example; when lifting a weight – the internal pressure increases, when the weight is put down – the internal pressure returns to normal.

In the ideal situation the regulation of pressure within the abdomen happens automatically. For example, when lifting a weight, the muscles of the ‘core’ work together well- the pelvic floor muscles lift, the abdominal and back muscles draw in to support the spine, and breathing is easy (Diagram 1). In this scenario, the pelvic floor muscles respond appropriately to the increase in abdominal pressure.

If any of the muscles of the ‘core’, including the pelvic floor, are weakened or damaged, this coordinated automatic action may be altered.  In this situation, during exercises that increase the internal abdominal pressure, there is potential to overload the pelvic floor causing depression (Diagram 2). When this happens many times during each exercise session, over time this may place strain down on the pelvic organs and this may result in loss of bladder or bowel control, or pelvic organ prolapse.  If a problem already exists, then pelvic floor symptoms can potentially be worsened.

Diagram 1. Correct action        Diagram 2. Incorrect action

Pelvic floor muscles need to be flexible to work as part of the ‘core’, which means that they need to be able to relax as well as lift and hold. It is common for people to brace their ‘core’ muscles constantly during exercise in the belief they are supporting the spine, but constant bracing can lead to the muscles becoming excessively tight and stiff.

Pelvic floor muscle stiffness commonly coexists with muscle weakness and can contribute to problems such as urinary urgency and leakage.  Other problems often associated with the pelvic floor muscles being too tight include pelvic pain, and difficulty emptying the bladder.

Are you engaging correctly?

It’s very difficult to learn correct pelvic floor technique from looking at a diagram or pamphlet – which is why we spend so much time in Pilates classes ensuring this is done correctly. Not only do we repeatedly verbally cue pelvic floor activation, we also employ nonintrusive strategies to encourage correct and effective engagement of the deep core stabilisers. As the movements are very precise, it takes a well- trained instructor, and plenty of practice and patience to perfect, however when done correctly, you’ll notice a big improvement in many of the exercises we give you, and how they affect your overall strength and flexibility.

Did you know that 1 in 3 Australian women display pelvic floor dysfunction (and it’s also very common in men)? So if you display any signs of a weak pelvic floor (like bladder leakage, no matter how light), please make us aware, and we can offer some strengthening exercises for you.

Next time you’re in the studio, ask one of our instructors for a pelvic floor check, and get MORE from your CORE! 

 

 

 

Quick Pilates routine for the holidays – anywhere, anytime!

Over the Christmas and New Year period, it’s easy to drop the good exercise and eating habits you’ve worked on all year – especially if you’re away on holidays. If you have a spare 15-20 minutes a few times a week, here’s a great basic routine that can be done anywhere with no equipment required. If you don’t have an exercise mat with you, just use a towel from the hotel (or sneak into the gym)!

The following article and images  have been sourced from www.verywell.com and written by By Marguerite Ogle.

Use this quick Pilates workout anytime you want to go through a routine designed to give you a balanced and challenging set of Pilates exercises. This workout is appropriate for all levels and modifications are given for exercise.

What You Need for the Quick Pilates Workout

The exercises are done on an exercise mat without any additional equipment. You just need space for your mat and comfortable exercise clothing so you can go through a full range of motion with each move.

Getting Started with the Quick Pilates Workout

Follow the links in each exercise to get full exercise instructions and then return back to see the rest of the sequence. This workout will include these seven Pilates mat exercises:

  • Pelvic Curl
  • The Hundred
  • Single Leg Stretch
  • Spine Stretch
  • Swimming
  • Plank
  • Saw

Exercise 1: Pilates Pelvic Curl

Teaching supporting student lying on back in pilates class

Liam Norris/Cultura/Getty Images

Pelvic Curl is a warm-up for the spine and abdominal muscles. It also works the lower body and helps coordinate breath and movement. It’s a great way to start your quick Pilates workout.

Get instructions for Pelvic Curl, then return to this workout series.

The Hundreds
 The Hundreds. Amanda Edwards/Getty Images

The Hundred is a classic Pilates exercise. It builds strength, stamina and coordination. You must use your breath and really activate your powerhouse at the same time.

Woman doing pilates on beach, Malibu, California

 Single Leg Stretch. Reggie Casagrande/Getty Images

Single Leg Stretch is one of the best Pilates mat exercises for working the abdominals. It is an especially good exercise for the lower abdominals. If flat abs. is one of your goals, this exercise is for you.

The Spine Stretch

 The Spine Stretch. Ben A. Pruchnie/Getty Images

Spine Stretch is a Pilates mat exercise that feels really good. It can show up anywhere in your workout as a great stretch for the back and the hamstrings.

Exercise 5: Pilates Swimming Exercise

Launch Of Fitbit Local Free Community Workouts In San Diego : News Photo CompEmbedShareAdd to Board Launch Of Fitbit Local Free Community Workouts In San Diego

 Pilates Swimming Exercise. Robert Benson/Getty Images for Fitbit

Swimming is a fun exercise, yet quite a workout. Swimming, like the activity it is named after, works every part of the body. This one is perfect for toning your abs. butt, back and hamstrings in a quick workout.

Exercise 6: Plank – Pilates Front Support

Pilates Front Support
 Pilates Front Support. Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

While Plank really targets the abdominal muscles and shoulder stability, you will find that plank is an excellent way to get a full body challenge. It is often modified to help build core stability for beginners and those with physical challenges.

Exercise 7: Pilates Saw Exercise

The Pilates saw.

 The Pilates saw. Angela Coppola/Getty Images

Saw is a basic Pilates mat exercise that is appropriate for all workout levels. It is a good spine stretch, utilizing spinal rotation and the breath to increase the stretch.

We hope you enjoyed this great quick workout!