Category Archives: Pilates

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

 

 

 

The Power of Pilates – Ran’s Story

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

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

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

What were your main reasons for starting Pilates?

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

How long have you been doing Pilates?

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

What made you choose Pilates Connection?

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

How has Pilates helped you?

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

What’s your favourite exercise or piece of equipment?

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

The Power of Pilates – Liz’s Story

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

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

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

What were your main reasons for starting Pilates?

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

How long have you been doing Pilates?

14 months

What made you choose Pilates Connection?

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

How has Pilates helped you?

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

What’s your favourite exercise or piece of equipment?

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

Beating Winter back pain

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

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

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

Combat cold-weather pain with your own heat

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

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

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

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

Power into the Football season with Pilates

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

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

Common Football Injuries

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

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

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

Prevention through strengthening

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

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

Further Reading / Viewing

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

 

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

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

How to keep fit and healthy during the holidays

We all know that the holidays, especially Christmas seems to be a period of excess and indulgence, when many good habits fly out the window. Vowing to make up for it in 2017, there are a few simple ways we can maintain our fitness, strength, and waistline during the Christmas and New Year period, whether you’re staying right here in Sydney, or traveling abroad.

exercise

Here’s my top 3 tips to get you through:

  1. Keep Moving – The body was designed to move, so make the most of the great weather and get outdoors. Try a jog along the beach, swimming in the pool or ocean, walking to the shops, a stroll through your neighbourhood in the evening, or some body weight exercises and Pilates (that can be done anywhere, anytime). We’ve listed a few suggested exercises at the end of this article.
  2. Eat in moderation – A blowout is inevitable on Christmas day, but that doesn’t mean you can’t eat a lighter diet in the lead up or post-Christmas. Enjoy a plate of Summer fruits, a light salad, or something grilled on the BBQ. When traveling, try and have a bigger breakfast or lunch so you can burn it off sightseeing, and opt for a lighter dinner. Here’s a healthy recipe collection if you need some inspiration – Recipes
  3. Stay Hydrated – Sounds obvious, but many people tend to mistake thirst for hunger, and will eat more when they are de-hydrated. Try and drink 2 litres of water a day, and drink a glass before each meal, which will also make you feel fuller so you don’t over eat. Hydration is particularly important if you’re drinking alcohol and caffeine, mixed with hot balmy weather!

Anywhere, anytime exercises:

Here are a few things you can do without the use of special equipment during the holidays:

  • Roll Up. Begin lying on your back with your legs flat on the floor, feet together, and arms extended overhead with your palms facing each other. Inhale to prepare as you slowly lift your head, neck, and shoulders off the floor (keep your neck in proper alignment by imagining an orange under your chin), and then exhale as you continue to roll up by drawing in your belly, reaching up and over toward your feet (avoid using momentum). Keep your core tight with your spine rounded in a ‘C’ curve, and then inhale to prepare and exhale as you roll down one vertebra at a time, keeping your heels pressed evenly into the floor the whole time. Do 6-8 reps.
  • Side kicks. To begin, lie on your side with ribs and hips aligned, and extend your legs slightly in front of your body (bend your bottom leg for extra support if needed). Rest your head on your bottom arm and place your top hand on the mat in front of your abs, making sure your shoulders are pulled back and down. Next, raise your top leg to hip level. Keeping your torso stable and muscles around your waist tight, inhale as you flex your foot and swing your leg forward, and exhale as you point your foot and swing your leg back. Repeat 8-10 times and then switch sides.
  • Tricep Dips. Sit on the floor with your knees bent, and feet and hands flat on the floor with your fingers facing forward. Next, lift your hips off the floor, and slowly and gently bend your elbows directly behind you (not out to the sides) and as far as comfortable to lower your body, keeping your chest lifted and abs engaged. Push yourself back up by fully straightening your arms and not just lifting your hips. Repeat 12-20 times. For an added challenge, extend one leg straight out, then switch sides for remaining reps.
  • “Swimming”.  No, you don’t need a pool… just a mat or towel. Lie on your stomach with your legs straight and together. Keeping your shoulders away from your ears, reach your arms straight overhead. Pull your abs in so that you lift your abs away from the floor and stretch your arms and legs as long as you can – getting so much length in your spine that your head lifts up. Keep your head in line with your spine; don’t crease your neck. Now, alternate lifting your right arm/left leg, then left arm/right leg, progressively pumping them up and down in small pulses. Protect your lower back by keeping your pelvis pressing in toward the mat. Coordinate your breath with the movement so that you are breathing in for 5 counts and out for 5 counts. “Swim” for 30 seconds.

Remember, rather than give up exercise and healthy eating at this time of year, you’re much better off just reducing your routine, and slipping in a few healthy meals when you can. That way, you’re body and metabolism stays active, and getting into a great routine in 2017 will be a much easier transition. Happy Holidays everyone!

 

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)?

image

Everyone 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

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.