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

 

 

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:

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!

The Power of Pilates – Gerald’s Story

Meet Gerald, Pilates devotee, who has been practicing since the 1990s! He’s been a Pilates Connection member for the past couple of years, and through hard work and great focus, Gerald has become quite the master of balance! Strong balance is such an asset as we age,
as poor balance can result in falls and tumbles, which tend to lead us down the slippery path of injured hips, knees and worse.

We are all super impressed with Gerald’s achievements, if not a just a little bit proud of him too! Here’s Gerald’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 – Gerald from Lower North Shore

What were your main reasons for starting Pilates?

To keep my body and muscles moving as I age, and to develop good core strength and balance.

How long have you been doing Pilates?

I have been attending classes at Pilates Connection since July 2015, when my daughter relinquished her Neutral Bay practice.Since 2009 – 8 years

What made you choose Pilates Connection?

I came to Pilates Connection on the recommendation of my daughter, Ingrid Shaw,
with whom I had taken Pilates classes intermittently from the 1990’s and regularly from the early 2000’s

How has Pilates helped you?

The biggest benefits from my Pilates classes are that it slows the ageing process and I remain fully mobile and not subject to continual stiffness and strains. When I have strained anything, e.g. my back, it is soon put to rights

What’s your favourite exercise or piece of equipment?

All of the equipment is well designed and it is difficult to single out any in particular,
but I am constant challenged by all the equipment which requires me to keep my balance and develop my core and other muscles.

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

Paul’s Story

Jane’s Story

Ran’s Story

Liz’s Story

 

 

What is Structural Integration and who can it benefit?

What is Structural Integration?

Anatomy Trains Structural Integration, (A.T.S.I.), is a style of myofascial bodywork that helps to ease, lift and align your body organising the anatomical building blocks towards their correct position by manipulating the fascia.

This encourages better posture and for the muscles to be used properly, reducing stress on ligaments and abnormal wear of joint surfaces.

Once in better alignment, your body moves with more ease and efficiency and is much less likely to feel pain.

Unlike massage, A.T.S.I focuses on the body’s fascia. A system of connective tissue that runs throughout the body like a continuous web surrounding the muscles, bones, organs, veins and nerves, helping to give the body its shape and structure. Healthy fascia allows the muscles to slide and glide over one-another, but unhealthy fascia does the very opposite, restricting movement and pulling the body out of alignment, causing aching muscles and joint pain.

  • Less muscle aches and joint pain
  • Increased mobility and flexibility
  • Improved posture
  • Better body alignment
  • Enables muscles to work correctly
  • A sense of lift and less sluggishness
  • Long lasting results

A.T.S.I. is best suited to addressing long-term aches, pains, injuries and restrictions, which other therapies may only have offered short -term relief. Post treatment regular movement and exercise, such as Pilates will help to maintain your newfound flexibility, alignment and strength.

Who can Structural Integration benefit?

Pretty much anyone with a skeleton held together with muscles and connective tissue. From five to ninety-five years old, athlete or couch potato, all can benefit from Anatomy Trains Structural Integration bodywork, (A.T.S.I.)

Many factors contribute to the fascial tissues becoming dried, tight and ‘stuck’ . Poor posture, the body’s response to injury and trauma, the constant pull of gravity, or just spending too much time sitting behind the wheel of your car, or hunched over a phone or computer.

Over time this may cause your body to take on subtle bends, shifts, tilts and rotations as it attempts to accommodate the changes in the facial network, restricting muscle functioning, postural alignment, compressing organs and compromising movement patterns.

A.T.S.I. helps to lengthen and unwind the fascia from its tensioned or tight holding patterns, allowing greater ease and efficiency of movement. The skeletal structures then tend towards their correct alignment and long-term joint pain and stiffness is greatly reduced. This is an advantage to any body, but it’s particularly poignant as we age. Staying fit, pain free and mobile has never been so important, as more and more of us are now living to a greater age.

At the other end of the spectrum, many athletes are now trained to master the energy recoil action that healthy fascia offers and use this energy transfer to accelerate and enhance performance. For more information on Anatomy Trains in training email info@northshore-structurlaintegration.com.au

Structural Integration work demands a degree of energy and focus from the participating client. So if you are currently very unwell, or pregnant it is advisable to wait until these conditions have passed before starting an A.T.S.I treatment program.

For more information on Structural Integration – please contact Liane in the studio, or visit          North Shore Structural Integration website.

 

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