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Posts Tagged ‘Pilates’

It looks like it will be while before most live in-person classes are back, so let’s make the most of our livestream class experience!


Think of the class as treat you do for yourself. It’s ME time, to take care of myself and my health – which right now, is more important than ever.


Act as if you were in a studio, for instance, you wouldn’t take a call while in a studio class. Make the class a priority and stick to it. Think of all the time you are saving not having to travel to a studio class.


Here are 6 things you can do to make the most of your class:


1) Close all other windows on your device so there are no other programs taking up your bandwidth and no emails popping up, etc.


2) Put your device on DO NOT DISTURB so you are not disrupted by calls, texts or emails. If you’re not sure how to do it, just look up “how to turn on do not disturb on iPhone/Android, etc” on YouTube.


3) If possible, be in a separate room from others in your home and ask them to not disturb you.


4) If you have, connect your device to a bluetooth speaker for better sound. A big appeal with my classes is the music, which I spend a lot of time and care curating. Or, if you have, use wireless headphones – this will also help with keeping you present in the class.


5) Connect your device to your television screen by cable or Apple TV (it’s so easy with Apple TV!). Again check YouTube for how to.


6) Commit to staying present for the class.


Although we all miss interacting with each other in person, livestream classes have been very convenient and it’s been wonderful to see your faces and connect with you!


Let’s make the most it and stay positive. Some day we will look back at this time with nostalgia.

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Did you know that you have a natural girdle around your waist?!

It’s true! It’s called the Tranversus Abdominal muscle and it’s one of the four muscles that make up your “core”.

I’m sure you’ve heard of the “core” since core work has been very much in vogue for some time now.

The core is important because it is the foundation of the body.

Think of it like this, when they build a high-rise tower, first they build a foundation deep into the ground to keep the building stable. A strong core is your foundation.

The problem is that for most people the core muscles are weak and undeveloped. This can cause many problems from lower back pain to sciatica.

I do not recommend these belts. They will make your core weaker.

You’ve probably seen furniture movers wearing those belts to support their backs. That is the support a strong core would give you. The belt does the work that the core should be doing. I do not recommend these belts, as they will make your core weaker.

Why is it important to strengthen your core?

(1) CORE STABILITY

Having a strong core means you have a good foundation for everything you do. Your balance come from your core and centers you. Whatever activity you may be doing your core is there to support you. From walking to running to snowboarding you will feel stronger and more stable. Having this strong foundation helps prevent all sorts of injuries from falling to lower back pain.

(2) HEALTHY SPINE

Think of the discs in your spine as little gel filled pillows between each vertebra. With every step you take the discs absorb the pull of gravity. Over decades these discs start to wear out, they’re not as plump anymore and the spine starts to compress, that’s why we get shorter as we get older! In addition, if your spine is slightly off centre the edge of a disc can get pinched or tear.

Having a strong core keeps your spine aligned and supports the discs which slows their deterioration.

Recently I had an MRI of my spine, the doctor studied my spine and looked at me in awe and said, “What have you been doing? You have one of the healthiest spines I have ever seen, your discs are 20 years younger than you are!”, “I’m a Pilates Instructor”, I told him. “Wow”, he said, “I can see it in your spine!”. It was such a wonderful confirmation of what I have instinctively felt in my body.

(3) PREVENT LOWER BACK PAIN

One of the most frequent complaints I hear is lower back pain.

Over my 34 years of teaching I’ve come to the conclusion that the main cause of lower back pain is weak core muscles (like anything it’s not a one size fits all diagnosis, I also believe in stretching and weight-training).

When the core is weak, the stronger more superficial muscles step in to do the work of the core, namely the glutes (we tend to engage the butt muscles when we’re looking for stability) and the spinal erectors (the band on each side of the spine).

When the gluteal muscles (butt) tighten, they pull the hips forwards, engage the hip flexors and pull the tailbone down, putting us into a pelvic tilt and taking the lower back out of it’s natural curve, the “neutral spine”. This leaves all the pressure sitting in the lower back and comprises the discs in this area. Most people are stronger on one side than the other, so if they contract one glute tighter than the other it can cause the hips to go out of alignment which can then cause a further problem: sciatica.

The deep core muscles do not engage unless we consciously tell them to, that’s why we have to strengthen the core and train the subconscious to engage the core muscles instead of the stronger more superficial muscles when stability is needed. It takes time and patience to build new neural pathways in the brain so the body goes to the core muscles instead.

A strong core will keep the spine in proper alignment, “neutral spine”,  keep your hips aligned and your discs healthy.

(4) YOU WILL LOOK GOOD!

Having a strong core is like wearing a girdle, you will have tighter waist line and better posture.

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HOW TO BUILD A STRONG CORE:

Do focused exercises for the deep core muscles:

(1) Kegels

Imagine you are going to the bathroom and you stop mid-stream, that’s a kegel. So just do that over and over, squeeze, release, squeeze release. Do them as often as you can, whenever you think of it. You can do them anywhere, no one will know. (Do them right now!)

I like to say pick something that will remind you to do them, like every time you see a Starbucks logo. Focus the squeeze more in the front (#1) and less in the back (#2) and make sure you are not squeezing your butt (the gluteal muscles). I also recommend doing kegels for a focused 2 minute block at least once a day.

Not only will kegels build your core strength, they will also keep you from getting up at night to go to the bathroom!

(2) Pull in your belly

Simply pull your belly in towards your spine. It is important to integrate your breath so you exhale through your mouth as you pull your belly in. You can also do these anytime anywhere: when you’re in a line-up, going up the elevator or walking around. I also recommend doing them for a focused 2 minute block at least once a day.

These are the absolute basics.

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If you want to take it further then I recommend  Pilates or a “core” focused class, just make sure your instructor teaches in a way that actually focuses on the deep core muscles and constantly reminds you to engage them.

Be patient and persistent, with regular practice you will start to see and feel a difference. But remember, it’s like showering, it doesn’t last, you have to do it regularly.

If you are suffering from lower back pain or sciatica, know that it will take time and patience to redirect the body. Consistency is key.

You can find my Pilates class schedule HERE

 

 

 

 

 

 

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