How to stay fit during pre-Christmas time?

We’re moving into a very busy time – Christmas. For some of us, pre-Christmas time means a lot of preparation including a lot of running around, shopping for presents, baking for our Christmas table, and also trying to do a lot of work prior to chilling out with our family and friends. It can also mean we start skipping our regular exercise routines, even though this is exactly the time when we need a lot of energy to help get it all done. Maintaining your regular exercise routine will also boost your metabolism, so you can afford that extra treat during Christmas.

To help with your Christmas preparation, I thought it might be handy to have a 20 minute workout ready when you do get that spare moment or two…

1. SPINE STRETCH

SET-UP: sitting on the floor with spine in neutral and straight legs; feet are flexed and shoulders width apart; arms parallel with palms facing each other

MOVEMENT: inhale deeply – to prepare; exhale roll down with spine articulation (one vertebrae at a time); inhale – to pause; exhale re-stack the spine vertebrae to sitting-up position

 2. SIDE TO SIDE

SET-UP: lying on the floor on your back with arms in T position and palms facing down; legs in tabletop position (hips/knees in alignment)

MOVEMENT: inhale deeply – lower legs to one side; exhale – gently draw abdominals in and return to legs to tabletop position; repeat on the other side.

 3. DEAD BUG

SET-UP: lying on your back with spine in neutral and with bent knees; arms on the floor and 45 degrees from the body

MOVEMENT: exhale lift one leg up (from hip joint) keeping the same knee level; inhale – lower leg down; repeat on the other side.

4. HUNDRED

SET-UP: lying on your back with legs in tabletop position (hips/knees in alignment); exhale lift arms (to the side of the body), head and chest

MOVEMENT – arms pump up and down in small motion

 5. SIDE KICK

SET-UP: lying on one side with one elbow bent underneath of the body (elbow/shoulder in alignment); legs together and slightly in front of the body

MOVEMENT: on the exhale – lift top leg slightly above hip height; inhale – flex with swing top leg forward; exhale – point toes and swing top leg back

6. SWIMMING

SET-UP: lying face down with arms overhead and on the floor; exhale – lift all extremities, head and chest off the floor

MOVEMENT: inhale – lift opposite arm/leg for four counts and the exhale – lift opposite arm/leg for four counts

7. PUSH UP (kneeling)

SET-UP: start from the plank position (hands on the floor in alignment with shoulders; hips lifted off the floor; straight legs with heels pulling down) – bent knees; elbow creases forward

MOVEMENT: inhale – bend elbows; exhale – extend elbows and lift pelvis upward; walk hands toward the feet and roll up; inhale – prepare; exhale – roll down and walk hands forward to the starting position – drop on your knees and repeat the movement from the beginning

8. SEAL

SET-UP: sitting with bend legs; lift both legs off the floor while you place arms under legs and on top of ankles; gently draw in the abdominals

MOVEMENT: inhale roll back and clap feet three times; exhale – roll up to starting position and clap feet three times

9. DOUBLE LEG KICK

SET-UP: lying face down with straight legs (together); interlock fingers behind back and hold elbows on the mat; turn your face to rest on one of your cheeks

MOVEMENT: exhale – bend both legs and kick three times; inhale – extend the back and straightening the arms/legs; lower the body and rest on the other cheek

10. STANDING ROLL DOWN

SET-UP: standing with feet hip distance apart; spine in neutral and hips/knees in alignment

MOVEMENT: inhale – prepare; exhale – roll down with spine articulation; gently draw abdominals in; inhale – prepare; exhale – roll back re-stacking the vertebrae on top of each other

Muscle focus – abdominals, back extensors, triceps

The key objectives of these exercises are: spinal articulation, trunk stabilisation, hamstring control and stretch, spinal rotation, pelvic lumbar stabilisation, abdominal control, obliques endurance, hip disassociation, hip flexor and extensor stretch, back extensors strength, scapulae stabilisation, mind and body coordination, elbow and pectoral strength

This workout is short and challenging enough for any fitness level, and you’ll feel great afterwards. I’d like to suggest that you repeat each exercise four to six times and perform this routine three to four times per week. That comes to 60 to 80 minutes per week. Wow, that’s not much and you’ll be surprised how energised you’ll feel afterwards.

Leave us a comment and ask any questions about the our suggested exercise routine. Sometimes it’s good to see the exercises demonstrated – we’d love to help you start your Christmas exercise routine, so just get in touch!

Why does resistance exercise hurt?

Well, as the old saying goes “no pain, no gain”. However, there is a bit more to it.

In the last few decades we’ve been living a very sedentary life-style and our muscles are paying a very high price for it – they’re getting weaker, and at the same time, our joints are getting stiffer. Some people would say it’s just a normal part of ageing. That’s true and I think the root cause is inactivity. Building strong muscles is important to prevent strains and injuries and also to avoid bone and joint injuries.

So, what causes pain during and after exercise? There are many reasons why doing resistance training can hurt. One of the most common reasons for injury is the tendency to push the body too hard and overdo it – perhaps making up for lost time. Some people think they’re Superman or Superwoman and they just go from one workout to the other…and they get hurt. However, our body needs a break between workouts. In addition, poor technique can quite often cause or worsen pain.

I’ll admit, Pilates is a complex exercise that can be challenging to learn. It requires a lot of concentration, co-ordination, the correct breathing technique and a ‘brain workout’, particularly in first few weeks. But I can guarantee that for most people, it’s all worth it. If you do Pilates regularly, you probably know now that in our classes, we put a lot of importance on engaging deep core muscles.

Why are these muscles so important?

They support your spine and also enable you to breathe more easily. They also support some of the internal organs such as the bladder that, if not trained properly, could lead to some unwanted issues such as incontinence. Proper breathing is so important, so if you find yourself becoming rigid or holding the breath during the exercises, you might need to review your technique or get help from a Pilates professional or physiotherapist.

Unfortunately, some people have quite weak core muscles because they haven’t used them at all or haven’t used them properly. It’s important to understand that core stability is not the same as core rigidity. If you aren’t using core muscles properly, it can cause overuse of the superficial muscles – the so-called six-pack (abdominus rectus). Furthermore, if you are experiencing back pain and/or movement limitations, it’s likely that you are re-enforcing the incorrect technique whilst you exercise. 

Once again, if you have any symptoms of pain or discomfort, it’s important that you have an individual assessment with a health professional such as a physiotherapist or a qualified Pilates teacher who can assess your strength and range of motion. Once you’ve been assessed, you might need to do some specific exercises to help train your body correctly.  

What is the key objective of resistance training? - to improve your strength, flexibility and muscle tone. However, it’s important to do it correctly. You need allow some time to learn the basics first and then you can add on more challenging exercises/programs. It is also recommended that you vary your exercises and don’t use the same muscles every day. Overall, everybody will benefit form regular exercise, and the end goal is to do it without pain and feel good so, you can build strong body and avoid strains injuries due to inactivity.

If you feel like you would like to have a better understanding of your fitness level, your strength and range of motion, I’d encourage you to book for an Initial Assessment. 

Call us on 0415 128 804 or send us an email with your preferred date and time. 

Active Pilates’ Tip 6 – movement integration

The last Polestar Principle is Movement Integration. Once you establish the correct feeling for a movement, you only need to recall the sensation and your body will automatically respond.

The movement of the mind is reflected in the movement of the body and vice versa. Therefore, we need to develop a strong relationship between the mind and body. As a result, our body would be able to move as directed by our mind. The movement depends on three factors:

  1. Individual (perception, cognition = mind and action (body movement))
  2. The task = the actual exercise
  3. The environment

Once you establish body and mind integration, you’ll be able to progress from “consciously incompetent” to “consciously competent”.  This requires 100% presence on the give task. The next step is to become “unconsciously competent” that will enable you to perform more advanced exercises with perfect movement.

“I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to dance better than myself.” – Mikhail Baryshnikov

Change is possible and needs to be done through re-coordinating the neuromuscular pathways, which are responsible for the habitual balance and movement patterns. You might need to imagine the movement prior to the actual body action. Having a thought or “seeing” a picture sends a message through to the nervous system as the nervous system and our thoughts are connected.

How do we teach our body new movement patterns?

There are two common learning approaches – declarative (depends on awareness, attention and reflection) and procedural (repetition) that requires practice, practice and more practice. Consequently, you’ll be able to perform challenging exercises by repeatedly performing them over and over.

Let’s have a look at our spine and its movements. It has to be stable and mobile. The spine supports our head, organs, and limbs and protects the spinal cord. The curves of the spine are influenced by the position of the pelvis.

How can you move the spine?

It can move into flexion, extension, rotation and lateral flexion. How does it actually move? It needs the pelvis (the hub of the body, a centre of stability and originator of motion) that is functioning as the main moving force for the spinal movements in all planes. Therefore, it’s crucial to maintain integration of the pelvis and our torso. In addition, integration of the torso with the extremities (arms and legs) allows for the required force in the extremities while we’re doing weight-bearing exercises. It’s important to move the spine in segments to allow for fluidity and in order to release the spinous processes (standing, sitting or supine).

And this principle is the last of six Polestar Principles of movement. We hope that breaking these down into the individual principles makes it easy to understand and if you need more information, you can send us email. Alternatively, you can join one of our classes in Panaceum Rehabilitation Centre, Geradlton.

Call today on 08 9921 3405 to book your spot. 

How can scoliosis affect your body?

Scoliosis – a lateral curvature of the spine. This curve may sometimes cause compression of organs or muscular tightness in your body.

If you have scoliosis, you’re not alone! Everyone has some kind of musculoskeletal asymmetry that is caused by either the asymmetry of the internal organs or right or left-handedness. This can lead to a misalignment of the pelvis or rib cage. In addition, scoliosis can influence your body while you are standing, sitting or lying down. 

What are the causes of scoliosis?

The most commonly known cause of scoliosis are idiopathic (80%) – that is, it is not associated with any disease or disorder. Other causes could be:

  • Congenital spine deformities
  • Genetic conditions
  • Limb length inequality
  • Neuromuscular problems

How do you know if you have scoliosis?

It depends on the severity of scoliosis and quite often one of the following features is apparent:

  1. One shoulder blade is more prominent than the other
  2. Slightly raised hip
  3. Uneven height of the right and left rib cages
  4. Head and the pelvis are not centered
  5. Body is leaning more to one side

Which part of the spine is scoliosis likely to progress?

According to the Scoliosis Research society, the thoracic (upper) spine is more likely to progress than thoracolumbar (middle) spine or lumbar (lower) spine.

How do you treat scoliosis?

One of the most effective treatments is exercise such as Yoga, Pilates or Occupational Therapy. The purpose of these exercises is to strengthen the core (pelvic floor muscles), stabilise the body, introduce asymmetrical movement with an emphasis on the weaker side, and greater body awareness.

How often do you need to exercise? 

Unfortunately, there is no quick fix for people with scoliosis. It actually requires a lot of patience, determination and commitment as any improvement happens gradually.

Think of this treatment as similar to learning a foreign language – first of all, you need to learn grammar and vocabulary. Later on, you start putting new words together to do basic things like order a meal, ask the time or for directions. 

However, your journey doesn’t stop there if you want to step up from Elementary level to Professional Proficiency – being able to discuss different matters with ease and understand what others are saying. 

The good news is that one of the key benefits of doing regular exercise is that you can prevent further curvature of the spine that could potentially lead to a decreased range of motion, deformity of the rib cage and pain. Therefore, it’s recommended to start your fitness regime as soon as possible and you’ll be able to make a difference to your overall health in the upcoming years.

If you still need advice on how to minimise the negative impact of scoliosis, strengthen your core and improve your flexibility, you can enquire about our mat-based Pilates classes in the Panaceum Rehabilitation Centre, Geraldton. Call Kat on 0415 128 804 for more information or send us an email.