To stretch or not to stretch?

Here at Pilates Connection, our clients are often surprised at how sore they are after embarking on a long walk. If you were going to the gym or on a long run, you may not even question doing a little warm up or cool down, however when it comes to walking, many see this as a “passive” exercise that doesn’t require any stretching.  So, the question remains – should we stretch before, after or before and after walking?

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Let me first state that when doing research for this article, there are many conflicting studies and reports, with no real general consensus on which combination of stretching will be the best for your body. When it comes to elite athletes who require big bursts of energy for explosive sports like sprinting, athletics, etc, some believe that stretching prior to exercise loosens up the muscles too much and can actually decrease power and performance. However, if you’re a gymnast or dancer that requires flexibility, stretching before hand can have a distinct advantage.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Stretching can help improve flexibility, and, consequently, range of motion in your joints. Better flexibility may improve your performance in physical activities or decrease your risk of injuries by helping your joints move through their full range of motion and enabling your muscles to work most effectively.”

There are two main types of stretching:

  • Static stretching: stretching a muscle to the point of mild discomfort and holding in that position for at least 30 seconds
  • Dynamic Stretching: performing a gentle repetitive movement but staying inside the normal range of motion (this might be a gentle walk as a warm up for running, or arm swings).

Most research has focused on static stretching, and as mentioned, the jury is still out as to whether stretching before exercise can help prevent injury, and whether it can reduce soreness when done after exercise. So, the moral of the story is – do what ever is right for your body – chances are it’s likely to make you feel better, and is unlikely to do you any harm.

In my personal opinion, most people will benefit from a few good stretches after going on a long walk, which may also help in reducing soreness the following days. Importantly, stretching also allows you to relax, slow down your heart rate and get your body back into balance. Here’s a few stretches I’d recommend at the end of your walk, which should take a total of 5 minutes (click on the link below to see pictures and instructions for each of these stretches:)

  • Buttock stretch
  • Hamstring stretch
  • Inner thigh stretch
  • Calf stretch
  • Thigh / quad stretch

View the 5 minute stretch routine

If you’d like to do some further reading about the various studies on stretching, here are a few articles we’ve come across during our research:

NHS – UK’s largest Health Site

IFL Science

Mayo Clinic

Improve your golf game with Pilates!

Hit the golf ball longer, straighter and more accurately with less chance of injury!

Did you know there are 14 muscles used in a golf swing? Given the complexity of the movement, it’s no wonder there are so many injuries playing golf, especially in the shoulders, knees, and lower back. Whether you’re twisting the body on a drive, squatting down to measure a putt or leaning over to pick up a ball, golfers are constantly twisting their bodies. Golf also requires repeating the same essential movements. As a result some muscles become overused and others weaken, causing an imbalance.

Golf-Swing

Practicing a regular Pilates routine can really help improve your game, and lessen your chance of injury caused by poor posture and incorrect swing mechanics.
Let’s firstly break down what’s happening through the body in a typical golf swing. A great degree of rotation requires the golfer to have strength and control in the shoulder, upper back, arm, core, and lower back through the various phases of the swing:

  • Set Up: the set up is the most important phase of the golf swing, as the quality of the outcome will be influences by the setup position. Alignment, balance, and flexion are all key in this phase of the swing. A good setup position is important in order to avoid stress on the spine and to establish a proper position for the rest of the swing.
  • Back swing: during the back swing, rotation of the torso works in concert with the lifting and lowering of the arms.
  • Down swing: proper rotation and shoulder stability is imperative during the down swing.
  • Follow through: muscle activity diminishes as the swing is completed and held, which requires the golfer to maintain balance and posture.

So, how can Pilates help?

Pilates is based on movement from the centre of the body, as are most shots in golf. It strengthens the centre of the body, also known as the core. Core strength can improve hip rotation, range of motion in the shoulders and back stability leading to more powerful and accurate golf shots. It is also a full body exercise that works all muscles and is easy on the joints. The end result is a flexible, symmetrically muscled body that is strengthened from the inside out.

A stronger and more stable core helps golfers:
• Attain an optimal back swing and follow-through with increased range of motion in shoulders
• Get more distance and power because of added hip and torso flexibility
• Have a stronger and bigger hip turn for greater power through rotation
• Create a smoother and more powerful swing due to evenly conditioned back muscles
• Maximize balance and alignment while rotating
• Decrease fatigue because of less strain on the body
• Hold a body position long enough to play through a shot
• Play without pain!

So, whether you’re a weekend warrior, or a golfing pro like Tiger Woods and Annika Sorenstam (who are regular devotees), Pilates can help condition the right parts of your body for a great game, and aid in rehabilitation if you have a recurring injury caused by golf.

Extended Reading:
http://www.ideafit.com/fitness-library/pilates-exercises-for-golfers
http://www.pgatour.com/news/2007/05/23/pilates.html

How does Pilates fit into your health plan?

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Pilates – working alongside modern medicine and complementary therapies for optimal results.

Here at Pilates Connection, we are fortunate to have a high referral rate from doctors, surgeons, and other specialists, who send clients to us for strengthening and rehabilitation work. This may come in the form of clients who have a specific injury they need to recover from, and strengthen parts of the body to help prevent future occurrences, right through to those who have had spinal surgery, or are embarking on hip / knee replacements and are looking to strengthen the body pre and post-surgery for more effective recovery.

Offering private and small class sizes allows us to focus on the individual needs of each and every client here, and provide a tailored program in a safe environment. We also work very closely with many local practitioners such as physiotherapists, osteopaths, chiropractors, acupuncturists, and others, to help treat our clients as a “whole person”, not just a specific injury or disease. As with many complementary therapies, Pilates focuses on having a better balanced body, and is founded on six core principles that make up the foundation on which Pilates is built:

  1. Centering:This concept is defined as physically bringing the focus to the center of the body, the powerhouse area between the lower ribs and pubic bone. Energetically, Pilates exercises are sourced from center.
  2. Concentration:If you bring full attention to the exercise and do it with full commitment, you will obtain maximum value from each movement.
  3. Control:Every Pilates exercise is done with complete muscular control. No body part is left to its own devices. It is all a conscious, deliberate movement that the mind is controlling.
  4. Precision:In Pilates, awareness is sustained throughout each movement. There is an appropriate placement, alignment relative to other body parts, and trajectory for each part of the body.
  5. Breath:Joseph Pilates emphasized using a very full breath in his exercises. Most Pilates exercises coordinate with the breath, and using the breath properly is an integral part of Pilates exercise.
  6. Flow: Pilates exercise is done in a flowing manner. Fluidity, grace, and ease are goals applied to all exercises. The energy of an exercise connects all body parts and flows through the body in an even way.

All of these principles relate to one another, and using these through Pilates, we teach you about body awareness, and how to control your mind, which in turn controls your body, allowing it to function and move better.

If you are new to Pilates, or a local health practitioner who would like a personal tour of our studio, we’re happy to show you around and share some success stories of wonderful results our clients have achieved with Pilates working alongside modern medicine and other complementary therapies. Please contact Liane on 0400 012 693 for more information.

 

Do you suffer from lower back pain?

At Pilates Connection, we have many current clients on the road to recovery after lumber injuries, back pain, and even after spinal surgery. Often times, clients are referred to us from a specialist, physio or osteo for rehab and maintenance to help avoid future injury.

The most common back pain we help with is a herniated or slipped disk (usually the L4 / L5 disc). Let’s take a look at how this occurs, and how Pilates can help.

“The spine is a column of 33 bones called vertebrae. Small, round, flat and spongy discs are positioned between most of the vertebrae. These discs act as shock absorbers and keep the spine healthy and flexible. If one of these discs becomes damaged, it may bulge out or break open. When this happens, it is called a spinal disc herniation and commonly referred to as a slipped disc, herniated disc or ruptured disc. Often times, a herniated disc or slipped disc will press upon a nerve running through or extending from the spine and cause severe pain, numbness and/or weakness in the area of the body that nerve controls.”

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In Pilates, the main principles involve an exercise program promoting back health, in particular, awareness and control of neutral alignment of the spine, and strengthening the deep postural muscles that support this alignment. By working with clients on alignment, Pilates can help decrease the wear and tear resulting from uneven stresses on the spinal joints and discs. Strengthening the girdle (core) muscles, and building stability and flexibility can get the body moving more freely again when back pain is present, and also help to avoid future injury.

Exercises are typically modified for clients presenting with lumber pain, to ensure no further aggravation and stress to the area occur.  Offering private sessions, and small group classes (4 maximum), enables our instructors to provide detailed support for clients who need a little individual attention for a safe and productive work out.  When you’ve suffered a lumber injury once, you’re far more likely to have reoccurring episodes, so it’s important to continue strengthening the supporting muscles with an ongoing maintenance program.

We’ve had wonderful feedback from clients going through this back pain journey, with health professionals amazed at the difference regular Pilates classes have made when it comes to alignment, pain management, and injury re-occurrence.

If you’re suffering from lumber pain, or other back injuries, please feel free to contact Liane on 0400 012 693 to discuss how we can help you manage your pain, and get you moving freely again.

 

Further reading – Here’s an interesting article about building core strength through Pilates to help with back pain, by The Sydney Morning Herald – http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/diet-and-fitness/core-promises-20091007-gnbv.html

About the Author –

Liane Geeves

lianegeeves-197x300Pilates Connection is owned and operated by Liane Geeves, a fully qualified and experienced Pilates instructor, (Certificate 4 and Diploma in Pilates Instruction P.I.T.C.). As a member of the industry’s peak independent governing body, the Pilates Alliance Australasia, she is committed to their rigorous continuing education program, high skill levels and industry code of practice. To qualify as a registered member, Liane completed a minimum one year government accredited Pilates course, achieved over 300 hours of studio experience, and passed two written exams before certification.

Is your body ready for skiing this season?

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The first dusting of snow has fallen in NSW and VIC, meaning the ski season is getting closer. Given most of us only visit the slopes once a year, skiing can be very taxing on the body. On one run, you may be flying down the mountain, and the next minute you’re face down in a pile of snow. Whilst there are some things you can’t control on the mountain, like the weather, terrain, or other skiers, you can train and strengthen your body, reduce the likelihood of injury, and lessen fatigue.

Skiing requires strength (especially leg strength to protect the knees), endurance (to avoid fatigue), and agility (to react to sudden changes in the terrain).  To get maximum benefits on the snow, you should focus training on the following three major muscle groups, in the lead up to your next ski holiday:

  1. Quadriceps – located at the front of your thighs and joining onto the knees, these muscles are very important as you gain speed down the mountain, allowing you to control your turns and soak up the impact of the terrain (especially when it comes to moguls!). The stronger these muscles are, the more they will protect the knees from possible injury.
  2. Gluteals (the buttocks) – play a big role in skiing by stabilising your legs and helping you to balance. Conditioning your gluteal muscles will also help increase your power and endurance.
  3. Abdominals – essential for core stability on the slopes, helping you to stay upright, turn more easily, and prevent lower back injury.

We spend so much time and effort making arrangements for a ski holiday when it comes to accommodation, transport, and equipment, but don’t forget, if your body isn’t in the right condition, it can lead to soreness and injury. It’s all very well having a great first day on the slopes, but if you’re so stiff that you can’t get out of bed on day two, it can put a real dampener on the trip!

Pilates is a great way to strengthen all of the muscles groups essential for skiing, and can help pave the way for a more enjoyable and injury free holiday. If you’d like to find out more about how Pilates Connection can get you ready for the ski season, please phone Liane on 0400 012 693.

5 Reasons You Will Love Pilates Connection Jumpboard Reformer Classes

Reformer jump board

Since introducing Pilates Reformer Classes, it has become quite apparent that our Jumpboard Pilates Reformer Classes are one of the most popular classes. If you have never taken a Jumpboard Reformer Class you and your legs are missing out. The jumpboard is a padded plate that replaces the foot bar on the reformer and provides an excellent and non-weight bearing method to increase heart rate. The Jumpboard workout is safe and much easier on the joints than running. There is no jarring of the knee joints.

 

  1. Low Impact

    You are “jumping” while lying down. The low impact exercise gives you the aerobic benefit of a rebounder while protecting your knees and back from the jarring impact of landing.
  2. Abs

    Yes, using the jumpboard is a great abdominal workout. Your abdominals need to work overtime on a light spring setting.

  3. Calorie Burn

    This is the class where you will feel the burn. You can control the intensity.

  4. Exercise While Lying Down

    We would like to say this will be the most fun you have lying down, but you may not agree with this. However the non-weight bearing method is excellent for those who have knee and ankle issues.

  5. Get Your Heart Rate Up

    It’s a cardio work out so your heart rate will increase!! Now how many workouts lying down do you get your heart rate up?

 

If you would like to try the Jumpboard Reformer Class, the first class is free. We think you will love it. Book online here.

 

Are you afraid of bingo wings, tuckshop arms or chook arms – pilates is the answer

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Bingo Wings,  Chook Arms, Tuckshop Arms there are many terms for arms that are a little bit flabby.  Look at your mum and grandmother if they have some flab, you could be in store for this as well.  But never fear, Pilates can help you tone your arms as well.  We can’t guarantee that your arms will rock like Michelle Obama’s arms –  but we will help you give it a damn good try.

Of course Pilates is seen primarily as a method of strengthening your core, but Pilates is also good for a whole body workout.   Joseph Pilates was a big believer in the whole body and working on areas such as arms.

As with any form of Pilates workout it is important to control your breath, be focussed, be fluid in your movements and initiate from the core.

Many of the Pilates arm toning exercises will use light weights.  Don’t be fooled, light weights can give you an amazing workout.  If you are really worried about your arms, you should pop in and see Pilates Connection Lane Cove.  We can work with you to design a series of exercises that you can do in the studio and at home.

It is also a good idea to keep well hydrated (with water), eat lean meat and have a balanced diet. After all, who wants to be sentenced to wearing long sleeves for the rest of their lives?  It is just not practical in hot and humid summer conditions.

Pilates Connection would love to see you in our state of the art full service  Pilates Studio.  If you would also like to try out our reformers, the first  Reformer Class is free.

If you would like to book you can either use this link http://bit.ly/pilatesonlinebooking or call us on 0400 012 693

5 Everyday Activities that Compress Your Spine – Pilates Connection Lane Cove

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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 spine compression.   Spinal Compression can start from you neck and go all the way down to your your lower spine.  If you 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 you may like to take our Reformer Group Classes.   We really concentrate on working with you to improve your posture and core strength.  Anyone who has attended our classes will attest to the fact that we talk about posture and core strenght every day!!

However there are a few things you can do to improve your posture 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??)

Pilates Connection would love to see you in our state of the art full service  Pilates Studio.  Your first  Reformer Class is free.

If you would like to book you can either use this link http://bit.ly/pilatesonlinebooking or call us on 0400 012 693

Get Ready for the Ski Season with Pilates

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Many of us who ski, only take to the slopes once or twice a year.  It can be daunting to suddently hit the slopes for a few days for a full on workout, which impacts nearly every muscle in your body.  It is a great idea to prepare for a ski holiday with Pilates.

Top Skier Caroline Lalive says “most skiers overtax their big muscles because they haven’t learned how to use their core muscles.”  Anyone who has attended a Pilates Connection Lane Cove studio session or Reformer Class will know that we are are all about core strength.   If you are strong and stable in your core you will have confidence on the slopes.

Here are Top 5 Reasons Pilates helps you with skiing:

  • It improves balance and prevent falls by improving core stability, leaving you better equipped to deal with rapid changes in the terrain as you ski.
  • Increases endurance and reduces risk of injury by strengthening and aligning muscles of the leg.
  • Improves turns by stretching and strengthening the torso in rotation.
  • Reduces shoulder tension in the flexed ski position by stabilising shoulder girdle.
  • Strengthens gluteals to withstand prolonged swapping of weight from left to right in the traversing action.

So get ready for the Ski Season by popping into Pilates Connection in Lane Cove.

Top Five Reasons For Exercising with a Friend

Research has consistently shown that exercise is greatly enhanced when you are with a friend or in a group setting.  Our new Reformer Classes at Pilates Connection is a great way to exercise with a friend.  Here are just five reasons why bringing a friend along to Pilates will give you a boost..

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Time Flies

Working along side a friend, is a great way to make the time go faster.  It is always fun to chat and laugh while you sweat.

You are less likely to cancel a workout

Exercising with a friend comes with a side benefit: you’ll be more likely to do it. If not, you will be disappointing someone else by cancelling the workout. It is all about accountability, and a good way to remember and carry through on your commitment to enhance your fitness and your health.  Just ask yourself, how many times have you made plans and then cancelled them, when you are doing an activity on you own.  Yes group pressure really does work.

It Boosts Your Competitive Spirit

A study of 1,000 women found that 64 per cent of those who run, go to the gym or attend group exercise classes with friends will push themselves harder than if they went alone. This in turn has the added benefit of getting more out of your workout and burning more calories.

Shared Goals

When exercising, it is a good idea to set goals, if you set a goals with a friend, you are more likely to achieve them.

You Get to Hang Out After the Workout

When you exercise with a friend, it is not only a workout but a social occasion.  Many of our clients at Pilates Connection, after a class or a studio appointment, will head down to one of the many great coffee shops in Lane Cove and have a chat and a coffee after class.

Pilates Connection has a number of different Group Reformer Classes for you to try.  Situated in Lane Cove, we have a brand new studio space and new Reformers for you to try.  Your first reformer class is free – so you have nothing to lose.

Our expert team of professional Pilates instructors will guide you through a 50 minutes session of body sculpting fun, ensuring you are connecting correctly and getting the maximum out of every exercise.

We offer a variety of Pilates Reformer group classes, Reformer for Golfers, Reformer Booty Buster, Reformer Team Challenge, Reformer Jump Board, Man Up on the Reformer and Reformer Tower to mention a few, but we suggest newbies start with a few Reformer Basics Classes.

 

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So grab a friend and come along and try out our Reformer Classes –  you will not be disappointed.

If you would like to book you can either use this link http://bit.ly/pilatesonlinebooking or call us on 0400 012 693