Movement is part of life, some would argue it's the essence of life, after all if your not moving, your dying! So why do so many people put up with less than optimal movement? Is it because they don't want good movement, or is it simply that they don't understand what opportunities good movement can bring them?
Since the early days, or our ancestors have been moving, whether it be across the planes to spear a predator, or high up in the tree's to escape our enemies, movement has always been an essential part of our lives. So when did we start becoming less 'Tarzan' and more 'Mr Bean'? When did sitting become more about the chair and less about cross legged on the floor, when did running become all about treadmills and shoe stability and less about open planes and freedom?
As a Physiotherapist and Pilates instructor I am obviously biased when it comes to movement but for good reasons. I can vouch for the fact that of my clients, the percentage of those who practice good movement are the same percentage who are fulfilled and enjoy their lives and all the opportunities they hold. It never ceases to amaze me how the small percentage of client I see on a weekly basis who don't want to put the time and effort into creating good movement patterns are the same clients who come back injury after injury and for what? I can get them out of trouble in the short term, give them temporary relief, but it is only temporary, until the next poor movement patterns creates the next injury, stress or strain and the cycle begins all over.
Why are some people just not committed to developing beautiful movement, while for others it seems almost a birth right? Does it have to do with up bringing, the sports they played as a kid, the importance their family put on movement and body awareness, the skills they picked up along the way? Or is it like many other things in life, to do with the determination they put into it, after all when it comes to your body, you truely do get out what you put it!
Whatever the reasons, one thing is for sure, for those of us who live in a beautiful movement world, the future looks bright, and although we may never be perfect and always striving for more flexibility, more control, more strength ... we are living with the joy that is our body, and for that, we are always grateful!
There are three forms of muscle contractions, concentric, eccentric and isometric. Pilates works all of them, let's see how using an easy example, the frog on the reformer.
Concentric contraction involves shortening a muscle as it performs work. Think of a biceps curl. In the frog exercise, concentric contraction occurs in the second part of movement, when you bend your knees toward your chest while still resisting the spring so the reformer machine doesn't take over. Your hamstring muscles shorten as they perform the work of bending your leg but keeping them sliding back at a 45 degrees angle.
Eccentric contraction requires a muscle to lengthen as it manages a load. This happens in the first movement of the frog exercise, when your legs extend forward to their full length. In this movement, your quadriceps muscles use eccentric contraction to extend away from the body while managing the weight of your leg and the resistance of the springs.
Isometric contraction entails the static hold of a workload, instead of a movement. This can be used as an add-on towards the end of the frog exercise. When your legs are extended just add a 10-second hold resisting against the spring. Your abdominal muscles will work in isometric contraction here to manage holding the weight of your legs. Isometric holds are likely to fatigue your muscles and are usually better used at the end of an exercise so they don't deteriorate the quality of movement during the eccentric and concentric phases of your exercises.
What are the benefits of eccentric control?
The eccentric work is where Pilates gets its reputation for being a great way to both lengthen and strengthen muscles in fitness and in rehabilitation.
Studies show that eccentric exercise results in less oxygen consumption, greater force production, and less energy expenditure than concentric exercise. Consequently it is a great way to strengthen weaker or injured muscles and building up their endurance. It has also been proven to be a great method of strengthening for older adults.
When you resist the springs on Pilates apparatus, use the magic circle or exercise band, the lengthening contraction often happens during what you might think of as the return portion of the exercise. So whether you go for a mat class or use the equipment, you are guaranteed to exercise your muscles eccentrically in every session and build some strength in length.
Want to work your muscles in every way? Check out our great classes at BPS Tensegrity studios Alexandria, Ashbury or Caringbah.
Why golf requires a specific physical training program
As a golf instructor with 46 years’ experience, I have seen and studied many different types of swing, from the rank beginner to the experienced touring professional. Numerous golfers have come to me at different stages of their development and age for advice.
Golf is a very complex sport that requires to put your body in quite unnatural positions in order to perform. A golfer is more likely to develop an injury from a poor movement under load, as such a golfing body needs a particular attention.
The many different opinions on the golf swing have only increased the mystery on how to get the perfect technique. One thing remains certain, an appropriate training can only improve your performance. Over many years I have been fortunate to work with a couple of golfing physiotherapist, which certainly made me realise that the golfer’s body requires specific training to prevent serious injuries. Many golfers, especially the youngest ones, seem to just want to play and don't seek the need for body development. However this is exactly the missing link in all their physical growth as sports persons. On the other side of the spectrum, some tour professionals of today have gone too far into weights and fallen back.
The successful trainers and health professionals are golf specific.
This is why a tailored Pilates program will play an important role in your golf related training. Our friends at BPS Tensegrity have developed classes that will target the 3 major areas of your golfing body, which are:
- The Hips/Glutes
- The Core/Pelvis
- The Scapula (shoulder blades)/Upper back
These three parts of the body are the key to your golf swing, fundamental to provide stability/mobility to your hips, pelvis and shoulder girdle. When these three key areas work efficiently you have a better chance of making a repeatable and bio-mechanically correct swing. Each area needs stability and mobility; this is why all sessions will work on both strength, but also flexibility of your hips, pelvis, spine and shoulders.
Who can/should do a Pilates program for golfers?
Any golf lover, from a younger age to an older stage. The program will be organized in levels, starting from a more basic level 1 to then progress in difficulty. During the classes you will learn great exercises that you can practice also at home to develop a better swing and keep you free from injury!
Barry Bent, from Woolooware Golf Academy
What is Fascia?
Fascia is a thin, web-like layer of connective tissue that lies under the skin and wraps around the muscles and organs, a bit like a Spiderman suit. Fascia essentially holds us together.
In an ideal word your fascia should be smooth but due to stresses that can range from running, carrying a heavy work bag on our shoulder, sitting at a computer, or any other activity that we perform regularly, fascia can become thick and tight.
Adhesions can also develop because of little tears that sometimes don’t heal properly. If the connective tissue surrounding your muscle becomes restricted, you’ll notice your muscles will also become restricted in their movement.
How to release it?
The foam roller will be your best ally for this. Think of fascia as a sponge that has dried up and gone brittle and stiff. Add water to the sponge and it becomes fluid and supple.
When you move on a roller, you’re effectively rehydrating the fascia and boosting lymphatic drainage to flush toxins. By applying pressure to the affected areas, to eliminate adhesions and release tension, you ultimately improve movement and restore the body back to its natural state.
What are the benefits exactly?
Here are a few listed for you:
- Prevent injury by releasing muscle tension, breaking up scar tissues and releasing trigger points
- Remove lactic acid to aid recovery, it only takes 60 to 90 seconds of rolling on an area to feel the difference the next day
- Improve mobility and flexibility keeping your muscles sliding and gliding with ease to achieve a greater range of motion
Don’t know where to start? Don’t own a foam roller? Come along to one of our Stretch and Release classes. Our teachers will guide you through using rollers, spiky balls, Franklin balls and more to make your fascia happy!
Been working hard all year to get your body back on track? Love the results you’re seeing and don’t want to loose everything before starting again in the New Year? No problem the BPS Team is here to help and put together a quick home exercises program for you.
Home exercises: benefits of a regular and quick workout
It can be hard, especially during the silly season full of catch-ups, parties and travels, to get time to exercise. You actually don’t need to go to the gym and take a big chunk of time out of your day to maintain the benefits of all your hard work. You just need to keep a reasonable level of spine articulation and core activation to keep your muscles and brain active.
We all dread this feeling... first session back at the studio, everything hurts and you feel like your body has scraped everything it has learned. Follow this home exercises routine to keep your body moving and your muscle memory going. It won’t be so hard when you come back, we promise!
Home exercises videos
Below is a quick 15 minute session you can do at home. We have also included videos to guide you through it. If you manage to do this everyday that 's great. But don’t beat yourself up, every couple of days is fine too. Remember some exercise is always better than none:
Want more: you can go for some assisted or full roll up instead of the chest lift, add a plank at the end of your quadruped, stay in your chest lift during your femur arcs :)
And don’t forget if you’re going away pack your spikey ball and maybe your theraband if you have one, they will be your best friends on the go to help you stretch and release any areas of tension.
Have a wonderful holiday! The BPS Team can't wait to welcome you back in 2017.
At BPS we understand the challenge of being a new mum. That’s why we have many Mums and Bubs classes on offer. It makes it much easier to get back to exercise and enjoy all the benefits of Pilates.
You surely heard many times that Pilates can help rebuilding your pelvic floor strength after childbirth. But it can do much more and make a real difference in the everyday life of a new mum.
Being a mum requires some muscles
Think about the constant workout the life of a mum is, the repetitive, and sometimes strenuous, movements you are putting your body under. Bending over the pram, picking bub from the floor, pushing the stroller around, carrying baby in one arm all over the house and this is only to name a few!
Pilates provides a whole body workout that will strengthen all essential muscles, increase your flexibility but also improve your body awareness.
How can our Mums and Bubs classes specifically help?
Core: to make sure you relieve the pressure from your lower back, you need to ensure that your core kicks in to support your spine and stabilise your pelvis. The great thing about Pilates is that you can start early after giving birth. There is a whole range of exercises that will activate your core gently and build your strength back up safely.
Upper body: baby in one arm, shopping bags in the other, talking about weight lifting! Shoulders are a very sensitive area of our body. It is important to keep them strong without tensing the muscles so much that it will do more harm than good. Pilates works all areas of the shoulder girdle, notably through some weight bearing exercises, to optimise upper body organisation and movement.
Glutes and legs: have you ever counted the number of times you are grabbing something from the floor each day? Without the appropriate technique and the right muscle engagement this is a highway to lower back pain. By working on your hips flexibility, glutes and quads strength you will rock these squats in no time.
Posture: let’s face it the perfect posture while taking care of a little one is nearly impossible. But there are little changes you can make to improve the way you stand or the positioning of your arm and shoulders while pushing your stroller or carrying your baby. This will make a huge difference to the way your body feel. Pilates will improve your body awareness, which is always the first step to getting great results.
Release: whatever precautions you take, muscles will tighten up! It is essential to learn how to stretch and mobilise stiff areas to avoid long lasting pain or even injuries. Foam roller, spiky ball, Franklin ball, therabands and more. There is a whole hip of Pilates’ props to help you achieve the best stretch and release.
Want to give it a go and experience the benefits of Pilates for yourself? Check BPS Tensegrity Mums and Bubs classes here.
Hold your core, maintain your frame, roll your shoulders back, stay on the ball of your foot, as dancers you probably heard this a thousand times. Sometimes no matter how hard you try your body simply can’t do it or your brain doesn’t know how to communicate with your body.
Whether you’re amateur or pro, ballet or a Latin dancers, Pilates has an infinity of benefits that you absolutely need to start and experience now.
Strengthen in grace
Ordinary strength training might tighten up and shorten muscles, which is not ideal for your dancing posture. Pilates helps build strength in length and promote flexible movements. Here are a few examples.
Let’s talk abs: They are often worked in flexion with a focus on the 6-pack, which only constitutes the superficial layer of your abdominals. Pilates will strengthen your core muscles; the most important for posture and spine support, both in flexion and extension. Strengthening your core in extension is essential for dancers notably to protect your lower back during a dip for example.
Frame, frame, frame: it’s all about applying the right amount of pressure and recruiting the right muscles. If you overuse your pecs and the top of your shoulders, it will be hard to maintain your frame without your arms feeling tired and achy. Moreover it can bring your shoulders forward, making you look like the hunchback of Notre Dame rather than your dance idol. A sloppy frame is not ideal either. If you learn how to engage more supportive muscles in your shoulder girdle, such as your serratus or rhomboids, you will be able to keep a firm but not overpowering frame for hours.
Loosen those hips and rock those body rolls: your spine articulation and hips disassociation will without a doubt improve by practising Pilates regularly. Moving your spine evenly and controlling your pelvis is essential to great body isolation. You will also raise your body awareness and learn to apply the right amount of strength without creating stiffness.
Correct imbalances and prevent injuries
Don’t we all have a dominant leg and arm? Dancing can tend to increase that. One of my dance teachers recently made the following point: “Now think about how many spins you do on your right foot and on your left. Right dominant? Which arm you use most when spinning? Was it the right arm? Probably.” Repetitive movements, especially when training for choreography, can take their toll dancers' bodies. It is really important to acknowledge it and reset your body to proper alignment through exercises.
By improving your body awareness and providing an all round body workout building both strength and flexibility, Pilates is the best complement to your dance practice. Don’t get me wrong; I am not saying it will replace endless hours of dance training sigh… but trust me it will help connect your body and mind and fast track your progress.
At BPS Tensegrity we have plenty of options to suit your needs: barre classes, Pilates mat classes for all levels, semi-privates to work on more individual needs and even circuit classes if you want to get a program as a team! Check out our timetables, including our new Alexandria location, here.
Anytime men hear the word Pilates they just tend to run away, have you noticed? Men always tend to assume that Pilates is only for women, it’s too easy they say, I don’t want to be more flexible I want to be stronger, I don’t intend to be pregnant at any stage so I am fine.
Well, read on and you will be surprised at what Pilates can actually do for you gentlemen. Mister Stallone, as per video below, would I am sure agree.
Guess what, men have a pelvic floor too!
The ‘pelvic floor’ refers to a group of muscles that attach to the front, back, and sides of the pelvic bone and sacrum (the large fused bone at the bottom of your spine, just above the tailbone). Like a sling or hammock, these muscles support the organs in the pelvis, including bladder, uterus or prostate, and rectum. It basically keeps your organs from falling onto the floor.
The pelvic floor muscles form the base of the group of muscles commonly called the ‘core’. These muscles work with the deep abdominal muscles, back muscles and the diaphragm to support the spine and control the pressure inside the abdomen. This plays a crucial part notably protecting your lower back, essential in complex and loaded movement such as dead lift or burpees.
You can learn more about your pelvic floor and how to recruit here.
Pilates will enhance your sport performances
What if you could improve the way you move, increase your efficiency and feel better when you exercise? How would this impact your training load and your progress?
We recently took golf as an example in one of our latest posts (see here) but our points are valid for any sport practice. It is all about technique, recruiting the right muscles and fixing imbalances to improve your results and reach your goals.
Pilates is very effective in training muscles often forgotten, in an unusual and challenging environment. By taking the movement pattern you need to improve on, such as your golf swing, and get you work on it in a “non-familiar” environment, like practicing rotation lying on your back, Pilates can help your mind and body to develop more efficient movement strategies. Once you master these new strategies, you will gradually transfer them to a more “familiar” environment so your brain can strengthen these new movement patterns. Therefore, with practice and repetition you will improve your performance.
You will simply move better for longer
This is not being sexist; men are just slightly more prone to injury than women. Part of it is probably not listening as much to their body and not believing in stretching. Does that ring a bell?
If we take running as an example, insufficiently stretched muscles can cause many problems for a runner, slowing them down and also leading to serious injury. Strength and endurance training alone won't provide the progressive stretching that a regular Pilates workout will. Pilates stretching is integrated into the exercises helping prevent injuries, muscle strains and improve mobility.
We are not saying that you should give up your favourite gym workout, but see Pilates as a good complement to your exercise routine. Pilates integrate the use of all muscles rather than focusing on particular ones. It improves posture, range of movement, coordination and provides a sense of balance. Your body awareness will be heightened and this is the key to enhance your sport practice and workouts.
So ... REAL ... Men do Pilates too!
By combining strength and flexibility Pilates will not just be beneficial to you it will turn you into Superman! Check out our mat classes from beginner to advanced levels. Want a more personalised training? Book a private or semi-private studio class now!
What are your Pilates Goals for 2017. Get rid of pain, tone up, master the teaser, or just have a routine that ensures you wake up every morning feeling outstanding! What ever your goals, as 2016 comes to a close it's time to start thinking about how to make them happen.
What are your Pilates goals?
The first question should be what are you trying to achieve with Pilates Alexandria? If your a beginner to the world of Pilates our advice would always be to start with a 'studio session<' (i.e. using the equipment). This will allow you to get a good feel of the Pilates moves as the equipment can be perfectly adjusted to suit the resistance, range and control your body currently posses. If you are more experienced in the Pilates perhaps a mat class if more up your alley. The level of difficulty increases significantly when it's just you, your body and the mat!
What is your Pilates budget?
The next question is your budget, how much can you afford to spend. Obviously private , semi-private and studio (3:1) sessions decrease in cost in relation to the amount of 1:1 attention your receive from your instructor. Classes are cheaper again as more participant share the teachers attention. When deciding on session types its always good to consider a couple of things;
- How much attention do you need? Sometimes its worth spending a little more in the beginning to get your bearings, so that as you transition into classes down the track you have a strong base of knowledge and understanding to work from
- Will your health fund cover it? If you work with an instructor who is accredited and/or is a movement practitioner such as a Physiotherapist your private health insurance may cover the majority of the session type, making it win-win! You get the benefit of expert guidance and the cost to you is very minimal!
- Do you have an injury? Injuries are important things to consider, as while Pilates is 'hailed' as a great rehabilitation tool, it again come back to the level of experience of your instructor and the amount of 1:1 time they can spend with you to ensure you are doing movements that are beneficial to your rehabilitation process and not harmful!
How do I know if my Pilates is working for me?
You should be able to feel, see and 'know' that Pilates is working for you. It's like Joseph Pilates always said “In 10 sessions you will feel the difference. In 20 sessions you will see the difference. And in 30 sessions you will have a whole new body.” If you are not experiencing these changes then the chances are the type of session you are doing, the way your instructor is working with you or the number of sessions you are doing are not be right for you! Don't dismay, there are probably one or to things you are doing that are just not quiet right, our article '7 fatal Pilates mistakes' might help you to realise this yourself! By finding a class or instructors that suits your personal needs is actually easier than you might think, you just need to know what your aiming for! We can help ...
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Unplanned pregnancy entails a lot of consequences and psychological effects. Parenthood is a natural thing, but when it happens suddenly and not in the plan, there would be some problems along the way. For both the mother and child, they will be exposed to different types of risk — health, psychological, emotional, and social problems.
Unplanned Pregnancy and Health Risks
The first and usual problems faced with an unplanned pregnancy are the health risks associated with it. This is especially true for teenage moms who are more exposed to greater risks of maternal death, compared to mothers who are in the right age of childbearing. Unplanned pregnancy could also cause poor weight gain and anaemia, as well as pregnancy-induced hypertension, cephalopelvic disproportion, and even sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). All these risks might put the mother and the baby’s lives at stake; it can also cause caesarian deliveries and labour abnormalities.
Psychological and Emotional Side Effects
An unplanned pregnancy also leads to psychological and emotional side effects, most of which leads to committing abortion. Some women might have a hard time in weighing down their options on what to do with the unintended pregnancy — they’ll have to worry about the difficult and painful experience of abortion if they would choose that, and some people would be giving the woman their judging stares because of such decision. It is a tough decision not only for the mother but even for her partner and other people who are close to her.
On the other side, women undergoing unplanned pregnancies may also experience emotional distress. They are more prone to experiencing anger, suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety, and uncertainty especially in regards to their decision for that matter.
Who is most vulnerable to these effects?
Women have different reactions to unplanned pregnancies. Some would feel glad and relieved but some wouldn’t, and that all depends on each one’s situation. The ones who are more prone to experiencing these effects are the following:
- Women who went through previous psychological and emotional problems
- Women who are forced or coerced to do an abortion
- Women with different religious beliefs, moral and ethical views
- Women who don't have support from their partners
- Women from disadvantageous backgrounds
One great factor about the vulnerability of a woman to these effects would be her personal beliefs about the baby inside. If she is someone who believes that it is not a baby until it is born, she is going to have less of a hard time in experiencing the emotional consequences. But if a woman believes the other way around, then she is more likely to experience emotional and psychological distress.
Things to Consider:
- When you are faced with an unplanned pregnancy, the first and the best thing you should do is to communicate with professionals whom you can talk to; they’ll answer all your questions and discuss the matter and your circumstances with you for better understanding. You can also seek the advice of other people and hear their perspective on your situation so you can have another person’s POV.
- Try your best to avoid isolating yourself from others (in hopes of keeping the matter as a secret and to face it alone). It will be hard, but you should be open to your family and friends and accept their support, as isolation might lead to depression.
- As much as possible, avoid pressure. Don’t listen to what other people would say. Your choice is all that matters — you are the one who would be living with that choice, anyway.
- Talk to others, especially those who are or have been in the same situation as you. You would have a chance to find out what it was like in their situation and you might be enlightened.
Common Exercises to avoid depression
You can do a lot to ease and avoid depression. It might be a trip to the gym, aerobic exercises, doing anything you enjoy, or just chilling out and relaxing. When you can lessen your stress and anxiety, you will also be able to function well, mentally and emotionally.
Side effects associated with unwanted pregnancy may lead to an increase in maternal and infant deaths, even illnesses and marriage problems. It may also lead to difficult decisions like abortion. It will be a hard time for the mother, so it is important that she is being supported by her loved ones to help her get through it and come up with her choice of what to do with the situation.
Alison is the chief blogger at BabyJoggerStroller.co, a one stop shop for Best Jogger Strollers. Alison is on a mission to give parents the best advice on jogging strollers, fitness tips, and actionable health tips to stay fit & get back in shape.