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Every day activities that can lead to spinal compression

Are you guilty?

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 spinal compression.   Spinal Compression can start from you neck and go all the way down to your your lower spine.  If your 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 via private classes.   We really concentrate on working with you to improve your posture and core strength, and anyone who has attended our classes will attest to the fact that we talk about these two areas constantly !!

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

Related Articles:

Engaging Your Core, and Pelvic Floor

Salute to the almighty glute!

We’ve recently posted a story about our youngest Pilates Connection client – Tom, and how he, even as a national long jump champion, is still in training to correctly activate his glutes, part of his ongoing rehab for a hamstring tear. That got us thinking – athlete or not, we should ALL be activating our glute muscles correctly, in Pilates class and in everyday life – here’s why:

The real benefits of a strong butt!

Aside from working your booty to perfectly fit that pair of tight jeans, your derriere is one of the most important muscles in the body for a wide range of reasons. Your glutes — the minimus, medius and maximus — are the largest and strongest muscles in your body, and the three muscles work together to abduct, rotate and extend the hip. By strengthening these muscles  your posture, athletic performance and overall strength will improve drastically. Here are some advantages of having strong glutes:

1. Injury Prevention

Strengthening and activating your glutes in the correct way plays a pivotal vital role in reducing your chance of injury. Having strong glute muscles can prevent serious injuries to your knees, lower back, groin and hamstrings, all of which are essential to simple daily activities. Weak glutes can cause an imbalance in the hip, which may lead to excessive medial rotation of the femur and lateral tracking of the patella, potentially causing knee pain, and can also cause poor lower back alignment which can lead to some serious injuries including sprains and tears in your back muscles.

2. Enhanced Athletic Performance

Your rear-end is capable of generating an incredible amount of power! Stronger glutes will improve your speed, agility, jumping skills, and quick side-to-side movements will also become much easier. Every time you take a step, your glute max shores up your pelvis and SI joint for stability. Whether you participate in sport or running at a social or elite level, the stronger your glutes, the more efficient and explosive your movements will be.

3. Better Posture

Have you heard of “sitting disease”? If you spend much of your day sitting at a desk or in a car (or on the couch), too much sitting can actually lead to organ damage, muscle degradation, and damaged backs. By strengthening your glute muscles, your spine will have more support and your pelvis will automatically begin to stabilise. Both of which are essential to improved posture.

How To Strengthen Your Glutes

While it’s important to build up strength in your glute muscles, it’s also essential to train your mind to activate or fire up your glutes when performing specific exercises, or in every day situations (like lifting or carrying heavy things). The sequence in which muscles are activated or deactivated in Pilates movements can make all the difference in getting the most out of an exercise, and helping protect other areas of your body prone to injury.

Next time you’re in the studio, as us to “check out your butt” (promise there won’t be any wolf whistles), we’ll just run your through a few checks to see if your glutes are firing as they should. If you show signs of glute weakness, we can give you some specific exercises to practice at home. 

 

The Power of Pilates – Tom’s Story

As many of you already know, we have all sorts of people training with us here in the Pilates Connection Studio – young, old, athletes, those recovering from surgery, and everyone in between. The fact we have small class sizes means we can tailor a specific routine for each and every one of you.

Today we’d like you to meet our youngest member, Tom, who is in his late teens, still at school, and is a highly motivated athletics star! After suffering a hamstring tear earlier this year, Tom has started regular Pilates with us to help with rehabilitation, and to strengthen his body, trying to avoid future injury. Tom has a great attitude, and is busy preparing for next season’s track and field competitions, where he hopes to qualify for the Open Age Group in Long Jump (check out his current Long Jump rankings):

NSW Under 18’s # one.
NSW Under 20’s # two.
Nationals # 3

We are all super impressed with Tom’s achievements, and look forward to seeing him compete in the future! Here’s Tom’s story in our continuing “Power of Pilates” series, showcasing how Pilates is making a difference in the everyday lives of our members.

If you’d like to share your story with our Pilates community, please see Liane when you’re next in the studio!

Pilates Connection Member – Tom from Lane Cove (late teens)

Tom training on the Reformer

What were your main reasons for starting Pilates?

A hamstring tear. Suffering a grade 2 tear with a bit of tendon damage was devastating and it lightly disrupted the big off season training program I had planned in the lead up to the 18/19 season. Pilates come up as way to get back on the track quicker whilst hopefully preventing further injuries in the coming years.

How long have you been doing Pilates?

I started in April 2018, so about roughly 2 months.

How has Pilates helped you?

Definitely the activation of my glutes. A bit underdeveloped and not “firing” correctly before Pilates (a main reason for the hamstring tear), I could definitely see the benefits coming through after the first few weeks in the studio, the glutes becoming noticeably more responsive and powerful when on the track or in the gym.

What’s your favourite exercise or piece of equipment?

I absolutely love the reformer, mainly because of its versatility. You could be sweating it out doing an exercise for the pure purpose of strength or having a good stretch on it before or after your session. But saying that, most of the other pieces of equipment are similar and adaptable, but I just enjoy the reformer the most!

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

Gerald’s Story

Paul’s Story

Jane’s Story

Ran’s Story

Liz’s Story

 

 

Quick Pilates routine for the holidays – anywhere, anytime!

Over the Christmas and New Year period, it’s easy to drop the good exercise and eating habits you’ve worked on all year – especially if you’re away on holidays. If you have a spare 15-20 minutes a few times a week, here’s a great basic routine that can be done anywhere with no equipment required. If you don’t have an exercise mat with you, just use a towel from the hotel (or sneak into the gym)!

The following article and images  have been sourced from www.verywell.com and written by By Marguerite Ogle.

Use this quick Pilates workout anytime you want to go through a routine designed to give you a balanced and challenging set of Pilates exercises. This workout is appropriate for all levels and modifications are given for exercise.

What You Need for the Quick Pilates Workout

The exercises are done on an exercise mat without any additional equipment. You just need space for your mat and comfortable exercise clothing so you can go through a full range of motion with each move.

Getting Started with the Quick Pilates Workout

Follow the links in each exercise to get full exercise instructions and then return back to see the rest of the sequence. This workout will include these seven Pilates mat exercises:

  • Pelvic Curl
  • The Hundred
  • Single Leg Stretch
  • Spine Stretch
  • Swimming
  • Plank
  • Saw

Exercise 1: Pilates Pelvic Curl

Teaching supporting student lying on back in pilates class

Liam Norris/Cultura/Getty Images

Pelvic Curl is a warm-up for the spine and abdominal muscles. It also works the lower body and helps coordinate breath and movement. It’s a great way to start your quick Pilates workout.

Get instructions for Pelvic Curl, then return to this workout series.

The Hundreds
 The Hundreds. Amanda Edwards/Getty Images

The Hundred is a classic Pilates exercise. It builds strength, stamina and coordination. You must use your breath and really activate your powerhouse at the same time.

Woman doing pilates on beach, Malibu, California

 Single Leg Stretch. Reggie Casagrande/Getty Images

Single Leg Stretch is one of the best Pilates mat exercises for working the abdominals. It is an especially good exercise for the lower abdominals. If flat abs. is one of your goals, this exercise is for you.

The Spine Stretch

 The Spine Stretch. Ben A. Pruchnie/Getty Images

Spine Stretch is a Pilates mat exercise that feels really good. It can show up anywhere in your workout as a great stretch for the back and the hamstrings.

Exercise 5: Pilates Swimming Exercise

Launch Of Fitbit Local Free Community Workouts In San Diego : News Photo CompEmbedShareAdd to Board Launch Of Fitbit Local Free Community Workouts In San Diego

 Pilates Swimming Exercise. Robert Benson/Getty Images for Fitbit

Swimming is a fun exercise, yet quite a workout. Swimming, like the activity it is named after, works every part of the body. This one is perfect for toning your abs. butt, back and hamstrings in a quick workout.

Exercise 6: Plank – Pilates Front Support

Pilates Front Support
 Pilates Front Support. Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

While Plank really targets the abdominal muscles and shoulder stability, you will find that plank is an excellent way to get a full body challenge. It is often modified to help build core stability for beginners and those with physical challenges.

Exercise 7: Pilates Saw Exercise

The Pilates saw.

 The Pilates saw. Angela Coppola/Getty Images

Saw is a basic Pilates mat exercise that is appropriate for all workout levels. It is a good spine stretch, utilizing spinal rotation and the breath to increase the stretch.

We hope you enjoyed this great quick workout!

What is Structural Integration and who can it benefit?

What is Structural Integration?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who can Structural Integration benefit?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Thaw out your Frozen Shoulder!

What is Frozen Shoulder?

Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, is a condition characterised by stiffness and pain in your shoulder joint. Signs and symptoms typically begin gradually, worsen over time and then resolve, usually within one to three years.

The bones, ligaments and tendons that make up your shoulder joint are encased in a capsule of connective tissue. Frozen shoulder occurs when this capsule thickens and tightens around the shoulder joint, restricting its movement.

Doctors aren’t sure why this happens to some people, although it’s more likely to occur in people who have diabetes or those who recently had to immobilize their shoulder for a long period, such as after surgery or an arm fracture.

Symptoms

Frozen shoulder typically develops slowly, and in three stages. Each stage can last a number of months.

  • Freezing stage. Any movement of your shoulder causes pain, and your shoulder’s range of motion starts to become limited.
  • Frozen stage. Pain may begin to diminish during this stage. However, your shoulder becomes stiffer, and using it becomes more difficult.
  • Thawing stage. The range of motion in your shoulder begins to improve.

For some people, the pain worsens at night, sometimes disrupting sleep.

Risk Factors

Certain factors may increase your risk of developing frozen shoulder.

Age and sex

People 40 and older, particularly women, are more likely to have frozen shoulder.

Immobility or reduced mobility

People who’ve had prolonged immobility or reduced mobility of the shoulder are at higher risk of developing frozen shoulder. Immobility may be the result of many factors, including:

  • Rotator cuff injury
  • Broken arm
  • Stroke
  • Recovery from surgery

Systemic diseases

People who have certain diseases appear more likely to develop frozen shoulder. Diseases that might increase risk include:

  • Diabetes
  • Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism)
  • Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Tuberculosis
  • Parkinson’s disease

Treatment

Most frozen shoulder treatment involves controlling shoulder pain and preserving as much range of motion in the shoulder as possible. In severe cases, your doctor may also recommend surgical and other procedures.

Medications

Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as aspirin and ibuprofen, can help reduce pain and inflammation associated with frozen shoulder. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe stronger pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory drugs.

Therapy

A physical therapist can teach you range-of-motion exercises to help recover as much mobility in your shoulder as possible. Your commitment to doing these exercises is important to optimise recovery of your mobility.

Here at Pilates Connection, we are currently helping treat a number of clients with Frozen Shoulder, via specific routines designed to stretch both the posterior and anterior muscles of the shoulder, as well as doing range of motion and shoulder strengthening exercises. Regular Structural Integration (KMI) sessions can also help improve shoulder mobility and associated pain caused by Frozen Shoulder.

If you’ve had an injury that makes it difficult to move your shoulder, or think you may be in the early stages of Frozen Shoulder, talk to us about exercises you can do to maintain the range of motion in your shoulder joint.

Source: Mayo Clinic

 

 

 

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.

Don’t let knee pain slow you down

Most people experience knee pain at some point in their lives. Sports, exercise and other activities can cause muscle strains, tendinitis, and more serious injuries to ligaments and cartilage. For some, knee pain can be so severe that it limits daily activities. For others, mild knee pain may be a chronic hindrance to the active lifestyle they desire. In either case, chances are that you’re dealing with a knee problem that shouldn’t be ignored.

The knee joint is one of the most used and vulnerable joints in our body. It is connected to our thigh and shin bone by ligaments alone. The muscles in the thigh, including the quadriceps, adductors, hamstrings, and abductors all play a part in keeping a balanced tension on the ligaments connected to the knee joint. When one muscles group is weaker or tighter than the rest, it causes imbalance and leaves the knee joint vulnerable to injury and pain.

What Causes knee pain?

Knee pain can be divided into three major categories:

  1. Acute injury: such as a broken bone, torn ligament, or meniscal tear
  2. Medical conditions: arthritis, infections
  3. Chronic use/overuse conditions: osteoarthritis, patellar syndromes, tendinitis, and bursitis

What are knee pain symptoms and signs?

The location of the knee pain can vary depending on which structure is involved. With infection or an inflammatory process, the whole knee might be swollen and painful, while a torn meniscus or fracture of a bone gives symptoms only in one specific location.

The severity of the pain can vary, from a minor ache to a severe and disabling pain.

Some of the other findings that accompany knee pain are

  • difficulty walking due to instability of the knee,
  • limping due to discomfort,
  • difficulty walking up or down steps due to ligament damage,

What are risk factors for knee pain?

  • Biomechanics: The knee joint is complicated in its operation and is used frequently throughout the day. Any change in the movement of the joint (leg-length difference, change in walking style due to back problems) can cause subtle changes and cause pain and injuries.
  • Excess weight: The stress on the knee joint is increased with excess weight. Obesity also increases the risk of osteoarthritis as the cartilage breaks down more rapidly.
  • Overuse during repetitive motions as are found during certain exercises (jogging, skiing) or work conditions (long periods of kneeling) can cause breakdown of cartilage and lead to pain.

Injury Treatment and prevention

In most cases, as soon as a knee injury occurs, the RICE method — rest, ice, gentle compression and elevation – can help speed recovery. After you seek medical advice and a diagnosis, many health professionals will suggest gentle exercise and strengthening of the area once inflammation and initial pain has gone down.

Specific Pilates exercises performed on equipment and the mat are very useful in the course of rehabilitation for the knee, treatment of an injury, and strengthening for prevention. Pilates treatment will focus on tailored exercises to restore function to your knee and strengthen the leg muscles that support it (Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Hip abductors, adductors and external rotators and the lower leg muscles). Those with biomechanical abnormalities (pain caused through body misalignment), may also benefit from orthotics and Structural Body work to help bring the body back into optimal alignment.

For more information on knee injury treatment and prevention, contact Liane at Pilates Connection on 0400 012 693

 

 

 

What happens when your body is out of alignment?

A key phrase you’ll often hear us using in the Pilates Connection studio is body alignment – so what does is mean, and why is it important?

In perfect body alignment, the ankles, pelvis, thorax and head are aligned vertically so that from a side view they form a straight line. This means that your bones, muscles, joints and ligaments are all working together for optimal performance. The closer your body is to perfect alignment, the less likely you are to suffer exercise injuries or develop musculoskeletal problems.

Why is being in alignment important?

body-alignment

Ideal body alignment

When any part of your body is out of alignment, other joints and muscles need to re-adjust to “fix” this problem and compensate for the imbalance. If these imbalances aren’t corrected, you are more likely to injure yourself, or suffer both niggling and chronic pain over time as the body will remain in a compromised state, resulting in more uneven wear and tear. Common complaints like knee pain, neck pain and back pain will generally occur when the body is out of alignment.

 

 

Think of body alignment like getting a wheel alignment on your car. As soon as your wheels are not balanced and properly aligned, the tyres start to wear unevenly causing the car to pull to one side instead of driving in a straight line. Brakes and fuel efficiency are also compromised as the car is not operating the way it was designed. Our bodies perform and react in the same way, so it’s important to identify any alignment issues in the body, and work on getting the body back into balance as quickly as possible.

body_alignment

Functional versus dysfunctional body alignment

How can we identify and correct body alignment issues?

If you’re reading this article, chances are you may already be a member of our Pilates studio. During each and every Pilates session, we look for imbalances, and via tailored exercises, work on getting your body into a more aligned state by the end of the class. However, for some people who may have spent a long time in a compromised state as a result of previous injury, or bad habits, a more rigorous hands-on approach may be required.

After much research, and training, we have found that KMI (Kinesis Myofascial Integration) structural body work is a wonderful complement to Pilates, offering our new and existing clients a more comprehensive and lasting method of getting the body back into alignment.The essence of structural body work is identifying and manipulating the fascia (which is the tissue webbing that gives you your unique shape). The fascia can restrict the job of the bones and muscles, so we work to loosen and reposition this connective tissue during a session.

You can read more about KMI therapy via our previous article HERE, and if you have time, the 12 minute video below from a structural body worker in Canada will give you an excellent outline of the therapy, and what to expect during a session.

If you’d like more information on KMI structural body work, please contact our certified practitioner, Liane on 0400 012 693. For a limited time, we are offering an introductory rate of $110 (usually $130) for an 80-90 minute session, for members and their family and friends.

Client Testimonials:

“Following constant and annoying pain in my neck and shoulders, I had a KMI structural bodywork “massage” with Liane. Liane is a very knowledgeable, dedicated and caring practitioner, and after one session I found I had loosened up considerably and my aches and pains resolved. I would recommend giving it a go in preference to taking painkillers.”
TG Lane Cove North – Feb 2017

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!