Pilates Movements Explained Part 2

Part 2

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A continuation from last weeks movements explained.

Bridge

In Pilates we have two types of bridges, articulated and neutral. An articulated is emphasizes spinal flexibility. Where as in the neutral bridge the spine moves as one piece.

Table Top

In this position your knees are bent and your feet off the floor and your inner thighs are lightly engaged. This position teaches you how to effectively “train” the  abdominals  really challenging the transverse abdominus.

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Hip Modifications in Pilates

 

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Here are a few modifications that I have used on myself as well as my clients when the hips pop, for example when doing single leg circles in Pilates.

Important point, if your hip hurts then before doing any modifications see your doctor before hand , these modifications are only if the hips are pain free. 

  1. Definitely make your circles smaller.
  2. Sometimes changing the position of your pelvis will eliminate the popping the sound.
  3. Adjust  or change your leg alignment.

Hope this helps.

Pilates for Cyclists

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The weather is nice and an increasing number of cyclists are out, whether they are riding for fun or riding for a cause or riding in a studio/ gym class.  Cycling is a great low impact form of exercise, however the downfall of cycling it often times leads to imbalances in the body. When cycling, the main focus is on the lower body, as a result  this leads to overly developed quads and calves, tight hamstrings and low back, overworked and tight hip flexors and the bent over or rounded shape of the spine and shoulders leads to poor posture, resulting in  rounded shoulders and thoracic kyphosis,  and  low back pain.

It is recommended  to add cross training to your routine  in order to work different muscles. By doing this you will  strengthen  the areas that are  weak, stretch where you are  tight and  as result balance your  body.  Yep, I am saying it, adding Pilates to your weekly routine will help with your  overall performance.

The focus on the “power house” or “core” in Pilates will allow cyclists to have more “oomph” or power from their lower body to pedal  along with improving flexibility and strength and proper alignment.   Your upper body strength will increase, low back pain will be prevented, improved balance, with the different types of breathing used in Pilates sessions the ability to ride for longer periods of time will improve and as mentioned before any imbalances in the body you may have will be corrected.

I will be sharing a few Pilates exercises  both equipment based and ones performed on the mat for those of you that are not able to make it a studio.

Part One:  Mat Work

Pelvic Curl:

Great for spinal articulation and strengthens the low back.

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Spine Twist: 

Increases spinal rotation and strengthens the core. Great stretch for back .

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Leg Pull Down:

Stretches the Achilles Tendon, strengthens the core, the scapular and lumbopelvic stabilizers, hip flexors, hamstrings and gluteus maximus.

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Shoulder Bridge:

Works the powerhouse and hamstrings, back extensors and glutes.

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Thigh Stretch:

Stretches and strengthens the quadriceps, increases torso stabilization, and strengthens the back.

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Kneeling Side Kicks:

Strengthens the abductors hip flexors, shoulders, lats. Great for hamstring flexibility and stabilizes pelvis.

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Swimming:

Strengthens the back and hip extensors and works the glutes at the same time. Great for pelvic stability.

Side Leg Bananas:

Strengthens the hips and obliques and great for torso stability.

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Single Leg Kick:

Strengthens the hamstrings,back extensors and glutes. Stretches the quads and improves the stability of the shoulders.

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Pilates Pushups:

Strengthens the entire body and improves upper body strength.

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Side Leg Bicycle:

Strengthens  the hips and glutes and improves the stability  of the pelvis and torso.

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Seal:

Great for balance and coordination. Fantastic massage for the spine and just plain fun.

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These are just a few of the Pilates mat exercises that can be included in your daily routine.   Stay tuned for part two , equipment based Pilates exercises in the next few weeks.

 

 

 

 

Weekend Highlight: Athleta and Barre3

Liz and Allison and Jodie

Hi guys,

This is a slightly different post from the norm. This past weekend I was able to combine two of my favorite things ( other than Pilates:)) and that is going to one of may favorite fitness apparel stores, Athleta and taking a Barre3 class.  Athleta is an awesome fitness apparel store that has three locations here in Houston and they offer different free fitness classes in their stores.

As many of you know I like to change my exercise routine often, cross training is definitely something I promote, go ahead mix up your training routine.

A little background /insight on the workout, from the Barre3 website:

We draw from multiple influences to create innovative classes that focus on length, grace, and a healthy body.

Sadie Lincoln, barre3 founder, works closely with a team of experts including yogis, professional dancers, doctors, and athletes to craft highly efficient workouts. Focusing on a unique combination of dynamic movement and isometric holds, the sequences work strategically to transform the body and develop long term postural benefits. A continuously evolving variety of movements keep the classes challenging, fun, and fresh. Whether you work out in the studio or at home, barre3 fits your life while enhancing it with greater functional strength, higher energy, and a sense of ease.

Barre3

Barre3

 

Athleta and Barre3 partnered up to allow fellow Houstonians to experience a live Barre3 class.    Liz Fitzgerald, the Franchise Development Manager and Master Trainer Allison Beam came down and hosted/taught the classes this weekend, these two ladies were just so very nice and you could see their passion and love for the workout.  Their excitement for upcoming session was contagious!!

 

Franchise Development Manager and Master Trainer

Franchise Development Manager and Master Trainer

Full disclosure, I have taken quite a few in studio Barre3 classes and the workout is phenomenal.   This weekends class did not disappoint, yes I felt the burn and the shaking muscles. The workout is based on isometric holds, which work your muscles to their deepest point, the one inch moves increases your body temperature ( hello sweat!!) and the dynamic moves raises the heart rate.  

Forward fold stretch

Forward fold stretch

 

Twist

Twist

 

If you are not able to experience a live class, (they have a few studios here in Texas), you can order the DVDs from their site or sign up for the online subscription classes.  If you would still like to learn more, connect with them on Facebook .

What was your highlight from the weekend?

Pilates Spine Corrector

For todays post I thought I would share a video  of Joseph Pilates working out using the Spine Corrector.  This piece of Pilates equipment stretches, strengthens and aligns the spine and it is great for opening up the chest which allows for deeper breathing and preventing that computer posture ( think rounded shoulders etc).  While improving our posture by strengthening the back extensors, you will also be stretching your trunk flexors.  You are able to work your entire body in every range of motion.

Movement is medicine.

 

 

Pilates and Running

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Whether you run for fun or you are serious about running marathons, trying to improve your speed or endurance or you are just starting out, including Pilates in your weekly routine will help you to remain injury free and strong.

Here are a few benefits of Pilates for runners:

Pilates stretches and strengthens you at the same time and will use muscles that are not specifically used in running.

Pilates will improve a runner’s overall strength, flexibility, balance and mobility.

Pilates exercises will help keep the pelvis in a  stabilized  level plane therefore allowing the extremities more range of motion and flexibility.

Pilates will improve a runners posture by elongating the spine and strengthening the muscles of the back as well as maintaining proper alignment in the knee ankle and foot.

Your core will be a lot stronger thus helping to relieve the pressure on your joints.

Here are a few Mat exercises to add to your training routine.

 

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Pilates Mat Exercises Part 1

Roll Up

(Rolling up slowly and incrementally helps to lengthen the muscles of the low back, increases the flexibility and articulation of the spine and increases core strength).

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Lie on your back, reach your arms up over your head, keeping the back of your lowest rib on the mat. Inhale, reaching your arms up towards the ceiling,  exhale and lift your head up between your arms, continue the rolling up

and reach towards your feet.  Return to the start position by gently squeezing the buttocks and tuck the tailbone to begin the roll back.

Single Leg Circles

(Great for stretching hamstrings, increasing flexibility and mobility of hips, core control, pelvic stability)

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Lie on your back, straighten your leg towards the ceiling, pointing the foot, maintain the stability of the pelvis. Circle your leg across your body and down and out and away from your body. Repeat circles in each direction, lower leg and repeat on the opposite leg.

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(Increases spinal rotation, stretches mid and upper back, lengthens low back muscles, lengthens the hamstrings, lengthens the quadratus lumborum which lifts the hip,creates balance in pelvis).

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Sit up tall with your legs straight and open, shoulder width apart. Reaching your arms out to the side. Rotate torso to one side, reaching the arm in front towards the little toe of the opposite foot.

Return to the starting position with our evening distributed on the sit bones and repeat the rotation on the opposite side.

Swimming

(Strengthens the back and hip extensors,improves pelvic stability, opens the chest).

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Lie on your stomach with your arms reaching overhead and your legs straight. Lift the right arm and the left leg, switching to the left arm and right leg quickly without rocking your hips from side to side.

A few reminders:

Keep your abdominals engaged, keep your shoulders away from your ears and breathe!

Hope you enjoyed this  post, part 2 posting soon. Let me know if you add these exercises to your routine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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? 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Challenges

Disconnect to take a Breath.

Breathe

This weeks Challenge is for you  to take a few minutes out of your day to disconnect. What I mean by that is, take a breath, step away from social media, go outside and enjoy the sunshine. Play some mellow tunes or just close your eyes and “rest” for a few minutes.  We get so caught up with work, checking Facebook etc  that we have forgotten to just enjoy the little things. I am guilty of this as well.  We need to make it a habit of taking thoughtful action on giving our own well-being our full attention.

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I will be doing this with you as well. I don’t know about you but the pictures above already puts me in a mellow mood.

What will you do this week for your personal well-being?  Share your ideas in the comment section below.

Make it a great week!!