Category Archives: Pilates

The Power of Pilates – Rowena’s Story

As we transition to our brand new studio, we’re seeing new clients from all walks of life joining Pilates Connection for very different reasons.

Today we’d like you to meet Rowena, a Lane Cove local, small business owner, and busy mum to two boys. Rowena is fit and active, and loves playing sport, recently rupturing her ACL and injuring her knee during a netball match. To get back to playing netball, she’ll need an ACL reconstruction, and was advised by her specialist and physio to adhere to a strict rehabilitation program for 3 months prior to surgery, which has also included regular Pilates sessions.

Here’s Rowena’s journey with Pilates Connection as she heads into surgery this week …

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

What were your main reasons for starting Pilates?

I stopped suddenly and twisted awkwardly during a recent netball match, where I also heard something in my leg  go “pop”. Scans revealed that I had a complete rupture of my ACL (the elastic like ligament that runs through the centre of your knee to provide stability), and I was off to see the physio the following day. On advice from my knee specialist, I started an intense 3 month exercise regime to help strengthen the muscles around the knee to regain stability, and get my range of motion back to normal before surgery would take place. Aside from my phsyio exercises at the gym, the surgeon suggested extra help via a tailored Pilates program would help keep me motivated and on-track.

How long have you been doing Pilates?

I’ve been attending Pilates and Barre classes at the local gym for a few years now, but after my  knee injury, I’ve been doing classes at Pilates Connection once a week for the past 10 weeks.

What made you choose Pilates Connection? 

On recommendations from my specialist and Physiotherapist. I was told it was important to find a studio that had highly qualified instructors, and small / individual classes so there would be someone to tailor my program each week and check for correct form during exercises.

How has Pilates helped you?

I’ve loved the fact that there isn’t a set routine each week, and exercises on the day are determined by how my knee and body was feeling at the time. I’ve spent a lot of time working on my range of motion through very specific isolation exercises and have been able to increase the intensity of these as I got stronger. I’ve really felt a big difference in my glutes, core and hamstrings, which have all been strengthened to help the stability of my knee. I’m now due to have knee surgery this week, and will return back to Pilates Connection soon to continue my post-surgery rehab, with a view to get back on the netball court as soon as possible!

What’s your favourite exercise or piece of equipment?

Probably the reformer, as there are so many variations on the exercises you can do. I also love the fact that you can load up the springs to make things more challenging, and it’s a killer on the core exercises!

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

Tom’s Story

Gerald’s Story

Paul’s Story

Jane’s Story

Ran’s Story

Liz’s Story

 

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! 

 

 

 

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

 

 

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.