Category Archives: Pilates

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.

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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)?

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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.

 

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

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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