A Healthy Spine

 

There are two popular quotes from Joseph Pilates that many are familiar with and if you have never seen them or heard anyone say them here they are:

” You are only as young as your spinal column.”

” If your spine is inflexibly stiff at 30, you are old. If it is completely flexible at 60, you are young.’

When you really think about it, it makes complete sense. Our bodies/spines are designed to move with freedom not with restrictions.  The exercises in Pilates works all the movements of  the spine to keep it healthy, flexible and strong.

The spine is worked in extension ( backward bending), flexion (forward bend), lateral flexion (side bending), rotation (twisting). By working the spine in all different directions we create a proper balance and maintain proper alignment and posture.

Before I show you some of the exercises that goes along with each spinal movement, I would like to explain axial extension or lengthening.  All the movements in Pilates focus on lengthening  the spine or creating space, we do not collapse or sink into the movements. We always want to think of lengthening.

Below are a few of the exercises that goes along with the above mentioned movements.

Flexion

Chest Lift, Hundred and The Roll Up.

Pilates Hundred

Pilates Hundred

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rotation

Side Bend Twist, Spine Twist, Criss Cross

Spine Twist

Spine Twist

 

 

 

 

*important to note the rotation comes from the spine not the shoulders or neck*

 

 

Lateral Flexion

Mermaid, Side Bend.

Side Bend

Side Bend

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Extension

Swan, Swimming, Leg Pull Up, Shoulder Bridge.

Leg Pull Up

Leg Pull Up

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hope you enjoyed this weeks post. Feel free to share.

 

Burning a 100 Calories with Chobani

We have all heard sitting is the new smoking so we are concerned with burning calories through out the day. Adding small spurts of movement in the day adds up to burning off 100 calories or more daily.   Chobani  has a new line of yogurts called Chobani Simply 100 Crunch.   Chobani is encouraging us to live life lighter whether by walking an extra mile daily or eating 100 calories less.

A few ways I like to incorporate exercise into to my daily routine is to play my fav music and dance I do this while cleaning my house as well, yes cleaning is great calorie burner too. I also take a 10-15 minute break and go for a brisk walk.

On days I need a quick snack that won’t derail my healthy plan I grab yogurt. Chobani Simply 100 is the perfect size to grab and go and best of all there is a “crunch” and who doesn’t love a good crunch.

Here are a few ways to burn 100 calories feel free to print and keep.

chobani_100cal_12version (1)

How do you plan to incorporate exercise to your daily routine?

 

 

 

 

Relieve, Release, Relax Your Muscles

Hope everyones day  is going well.     I will be sharing with you some new Massage Balls that I have been using for a few weeks now.  I would like to introduce to you, sFera Massage Balls.

Sfera Balls

There is a lot of information out  on the benefits of not only getting a massage but also  a lot on myofascial release using props such  as a the foam roller the stick and of course balls, go ahead google it.

This set of massage balls comes neatly packed in there own tote bag, which is convenient to travel with. There are 4 balls in the set, 1. large ball 4″ 2. 1 small ball 2.5″ and 3. 2 small spiky balls 2″.

Tote Bag

 

The balls are made from  eco friendly materials that grip and grab the skin ( conforming to which ever part you are rolling out).

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Sfera Balls and Tote Bag

I really like the the large ball for rolling out my quadriceps, my glutes and my hamstrings. I found this ball perfect for really massaging/releasing my hamstrings and much better in my opinion than the foam roller for releasing my “knots” and the ball did not slide out from under my leg.

The small ball is perfect for smaller areas like my calves and the soles of my feet. Great for boosting circulation and stimulating all the nerves in the feet and at the end of a long who does not like a good foot massage?  The spiky balls are designed to be used on your hands as well as feet and if you are brave they can be used on your scalp. Just be aware that spikes are a little hard so you will definitely be getting a deeper massage.

I really like this product and I use it daily.  I highly recommend them, you won’t be disappointed.

Have you ever used massage balls? Which one is your favorite? If you give these a try let me know.

I will be reviewing more products I like in the next few weeks.

 

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this review. 

 

A Little History

Happy September!!!

I hope you are all having a fantastic September so far.  I thought I would share an interesting interview/discussion on Memories of Mr Joe Pilates.  Enjoy!

A little extra Pilates history:

Origins of Pilates

Have a great week friends.

Around the Web

 

Thought I would share with you some  interesting articles I have come across from around the web. Grab a cup of “joe” and enjoy.

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This is one of the most basic human postures but many are unable to.  This article goes into the health benefits  of being able to do this:   5 Reasons to Full Squat 

What happens when you Stop Drinking Diet Soda

Signs You Are Not Getting Enough of this Mineral

Strength Training Moves that Double as Cardio

Cerebral palsy Does Not Stop Laura From Teaching Pilates

What are your favorite reads from around the web?

 

 

Gratitude Fridays

We will always have something to be grateful for, no matter how small it may be.

“The more you recognize and express gratitude for the things you have, the more things you will have to express gratitude for.” -Zig Zigler

My lemon juicer! You have no idea how this little gizmo makes it so much easier to squeeze the juice out of a lemon so I can have my lemon water daily.  Ahh the little things.

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My endless supply of fresh vegetables.

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Sunrise

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Fresh flowers.

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Balancing on my Balanced Body foam roller for fun.

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What are you grateful for this week? Please share in the comments.

Some exciting things coming up on the blog soon.

Post Workout Tips

So you finished with your workout session, what to do? Don’t just hop off the treadmill or whichever cardio machine you were using and neglect the cool down. The same goes for fitness classes , do not leave before the cool down/stretch  portion of the class.

Cooling down after exercising is just as important as the warm up. I think of the cool down like dessert. Yes, you heard me, this is the best part of your fitness routine.

 

This vital part of your exercise program promotes recovery as well as preventing injuries and helps to reduce delayed onset muscle soreness.

Always replace the fluids lost after a workout.

Stretch your hard working muscles, hold each stretch for 30 seconds, please, please do not bounce.

Make good use of the foam roller.

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Quad Roll

Source
Have a post workout snack, for example, some chocolate milk or a fruit smoothie.

Extra

8 Foam Roller Exercises

 

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

pink ribbon

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The most important thing you can do is do a monthly breast exam and do a mammogram as soon as your doctor recommends it.

As a Post Rehabilitative Breast Cancer Exercise Specialist through The Pink Ribbon Program I am able to develop a specific Pilates exercise program to fulfill the needs of survivors.  Here are a few benefits of this specific Pilates based program:

Note this is a specific exercise protocol form of Pilates training.

Pilates is beneficial to breast cancer survivors as well as those undergoing chemotherapy who would like to regain strength. These are just a few benefits to be gained from this specialized program.

  • improves lymphatic drainage with proper breathing techniques
  • restores overall range of motion, flexibility, strength and endurance
  • restores  postural alignment and balance
  • enhances core strength and endurance
  • improved circulation

As an instructor my goal is to help you get back to your everyday routines.

Here are a few important links:

Breast Cancer.org

Susan G Komen

 

Gratitude Fridays

I thought this would be a fun addition to the blog.   I know we have all heard of having a gratitude journal, where you write down 5 or more things you are grateful for whether you write it everyday or once a week . There really is no rule as to when or how much you want to write or how small or great it is. The simple things brings the greatest joy.

I will share here just a few things I have been grateful for this week,  it will be more pictures than words.

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Coffee ( i am a huge fan)

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Joseph Pilates ( self explanatory)

 

 

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Beautiful Scenery ( gotta love vacations)

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Saw this duck and her babies early one morning at work. How adorable!!

Desk Bound: Three Pilates Desk Exercises and Stretches.

 

There have been numerous articles written about the perils of too much sitting. Researchers say that prolonged sitting may lead to a slower than normal metabolism, diabetes and a larger waistline etc. Among these we can also add an inflexible spine due to lack of movement, poor posture, weak upper back muscles, short and tight chest muscles, forward head posture and rounded shoulders to name a few.

Sitting is not only inevitable and necessary at times but the problems arise when we do not make the time to add movement through out our day.

Here are a few ways to add movement to your day while at the office. 1. If possible. instead of sending an email to your co-worker, walk to their desk or office. 2.   Add some stretches/Pilates exercises to your day that can be performed at your desk. 3. Have a walking business meeting. 4. Have lunch at a park. 5. Walk the mall on your lunch break 6. Take the stairs 7. Take calls while on your feet or better yet pace and talk 8. Set a daily reminder to step away from your computer screen at regular intervals, this is for your mental and physical health and 9. Use the restroom on a different floor.

Below are a few Pilates exercises you can include in your day, these can be performed at your desk.

Note: Abdominals should be engaged at all times, keep length in the spine and breathe!

Spine Twist:  

Sit tall, with neutral spine and pelvis., abdominals pulled in and up, feet hip distance apart. Extend your arms long in front you, shoulder height, palms facing in and shoulders down.

On an inhale, lengthen your spine, exhale and rotate or twist your spine for a count of 3, bending your elbow as you twist in the same direction while keeping the opposite arm long in front.

Inhale and return to the center and switch sides.  Repeat 5 times on each side.

Spine Stretch Forward:

The same seated position as the above exercise. Inhale and lengthen your spine, exhale and nod your head forward ,abs engaged, slowly curve or round your spine forward, arms long and down by sides.

Inhale at the bottom of the movement, taking slow breaths and breathing into the sides of your ribcage.  Exhale and slowly roll back up to sitting position. Repeat 5 times.

Seated Mermaid:

The same seated position as above, hands are resting at your sides. Inhale, reaching one arm overhead, pressing the opposite hand into the side of the chair. Exhale, bending sideways while reaching the extended arm over head. Inhale and return to the start position.  Repeat 5 times on each side.

A few reminders while actively sitting through out the day: Maintain neutral spine, keep your abdominals engaged always, breathe well, meaning fill your lungs air and exhale completely, sit tall and lengthen your spine, relax your neck and shoulders.

The Pilates method/ principles, are not only for inside the studio but the principles should carry you through out your day whether you are sitting or driving or whatever activity you are doing.  Being mindful of your own body awareness will improve your alignment and comfort level.

 

Here are a few stretches that can be performed at the end of your workday.

 

Back and Hamstrings:

Lie on your back, feet on the floor, knees bent. Draw both knees into your chest and rock side to side. Then alternate extending one leg and hugging the other leg into your chest. Hold each stretch for 20 -30 seconds. Enjoy this you should be able to feel the entire body relaxing.

Cross Body Stretch:

Still on your back keep one leg extended and use the opposite hand to cross the bent leg across your body, and look in the opposite direction to the crossed leg.

Shoulders. Stand and reach your arms behind you, you can hold on to each wrist if this easier or interlace your fingers, while raising your arms behind you so you feel a wonderful stretch in the front of your shoulders.

Figure 4 Stretch:

Lie on floor or mat. Bend knees with feet on floor. Cross lower leg over thigh of other leg. Grasp back of thigh of lower leg with both hands.

Pull leg toward torso. Hold stretch. Repeat with opposite leg.

How do you incorporate movement through out your day? What are your favorite stretches?