Do you carry the world on your shoulders?

I’m certain that you are all familiar with this saying. Where did this saying come from? Well, this expression goes back to Ancient Greece. Slaves were forced to carry very heavy weights as punishment for their “bad behaviour”.

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These days, it refers more to “carrying” problems on your shoulders rather than actual weight. It can also mean that you’re overusing your mobilising muscles (trapezius). Unfortunately, this can result in an underdevelopment of the stabilising muscles such as the pectoralis and teresis.

Picture this… you’re sitting for long hours at your desk because you just have to finish that assignment or proposal so, you just keep typing away. What’s happening with your shoulders? Well, I bet they just naturally hunch up as nobody tells them to relax. And the problem is if you do let go of the tension in your shoulders, you are likely to pull them down away from your ears. However, this is not the best solution as you are only activating the trapezius, which may result in an imbalance.

Right now, I’m sitting behind my Mac typing this blog post, and what are my shoulders doing? Of course, they were hunched up almost touching the tips of my ears. Grrr … Luckily, I know I can do better than this. 

Being trained in Pilates teaching, I know how to relax my shoulders in a much more effective way:

- Lean your back into the chair (equipped with the right back support)

- Bring your naval to the spine

- Open your chest

- Activate the muscles surrounding the scapulae

- Breath – breathing is good and healthy

- Smile.

This way, I’m using the stabilising muscles first rather than over-activating the mobilising muscles. Now check in … how are your shoulders while you’re reading this blog post? If they are hunching up, you know what to do – follow the steps above to have a little workout and repeat this routine every 45 minutes.

Not so long ago, we wrote about core Pilates principles. One of the principles is Head, neck and shoulders organisation. You might want to read it again as it might contain some helpful information that your can relate to.

Leave us a comment or share the pain with us as it might help some other people to deal with theirs .. or share this post with your friends if they have tendency to carry the world on their shoulders.

5 tips to stop the back pain

Quite often I hear about back pain – sometimes people mention it during a class or some people may experience back pain while they are doing their usual daily routines (work, travel, housework etc.).

Why do you experience back pain?

The most common reasons are tension or spasm, inflammation or injury. It can also relate to arthritis, osteoporosis, sciatica and stress. Did you know that the most likely back pain actually comes from the muscles, ligaments and joints? The good news is you can certainly prevent this issue from re-occurring. How?

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From my own experience, the best back pain relief is a combination of a few different treatments:

  • A good massage
  • A hot bath or heat pack (place on the affected area)
  • Exercise (regularly and not only when the back pain is present).

This approach more often than not will address the problem, however, if your back pain relates to arthritis or osteoporosis, you might need to take medication (pain relief or anti-inflammatories). The best way to find out what is causing your back pain is to visit your local Physiotherapist or Exercise Physiologist. If required, they will recommend some exercises to relieve the pain.  

My top 5 tips on how you can prevent back pain are:

  1. Regular exercise that is appropriate for your body and fitness level
  2. Maintain your body weight
  3. Avoid sitting for extended periods
  4. Correct posture
  5. A Stress-free life (sometimes easier said than done!)

What about if you experience back pain during exercise? In this instance, you need to discuss this matter with your Personal Trainers or Fitness Instructor who should be able to assess your strength and range of movement. Then, they should prepare for you an individual program including stretching and muscle strengthening to help stabilise and support your back.

REMEMBER – your back pain can affect your overall wellbeing and it’s crucial to act promptly and prevent it from getting any worse. 

  • Active Pilates has a SPECIAL OFFER* for people suffering from muscle-related back pain:
  • FREE 30 minute Fitness Assessment (value $40)  
  • Unlimited access to our group Pilates classes for ten working days. Check our current timetable.
  • The cost $36.

Call Active Pilates on 0415 128 804 or send us an email to claim this offer.

* Terms and conditions: All bookings must be made prior to each class (maximum ten people per a class). This offer is valid during April 2014. Only new clients can claim this offer.  

Ultimate fitness for our kids

When I was growing up, I had a very active life. When I came home from school, I was very lucky to be able to go out on the street and play safely with my friends. There were mishaps of course. I can still “feel” the pain – falling out of a tree, having scratches all over my legs and arms. However, we had fun and we could play just across the road in our local park while our parents were still at work.

I was very fortunate to have all four grandparents in my life when I grew up. Time with them was the best time ever as we used to go to a beautiful and healthy looking forest to pick mushrooms and berries or we took a train or bus and went to visit our relatives in the next village. And of course, they had kids so it meant more play and fun outdoors whilst the adults stayed indoors chatting. I absolutely loved those visits.

I’m trying to remember how much time I used to spend in front of a TV. For me “being outdoors” was really the most enjoyable thing I could do back then. Especially when I came home from school – no more “sitting” was required!

Unfortunately, I’m not convinced that kids are living the same way as we used to.  On the contrary, children are leading more and more sedentary lives – eating fast food, playing video games, texting friends or watching TV. Consequently, children are becoming overweight and in some cases obese due to a lack of physical activity.

What are parents doing? In most cases, they’re doing their best – encouraging them to engage in rigorous exercises to try and balance this increasingly sedentary lifestyle. However, this might not be an ideal way to keep your children (6 to 11 years old) fit as their bodies are not quite developed enough to handle some demanding exercises.

So which exercise is more appropriate and why? You might want to consider a low-impact exercise routine such as Pilates. It can actually achieve two objectives – develop a stronger body and a relaxed mind. It can also help increase a child’s self-esteem - so widely promoted in our media these days.  

Some other benefits of Pilates for kids:

  • Spinal alignment and better posture
  • Moving more efficiently
  • Increased strength and flexibility
  • Body development in a more symmetrical way (building muscles equally)
  • Improved performance in their favourite sport
  • Understanding their body and its limitations.

Where do you go from here? Active Pilates will be rolling out new classes ‘Pilates for Kids’ (6 to 8 years and 9 to11 years) during the upcoming school holidays in April. These classes will be 45 minutes long and limited to a maximum of six children in each class.

CALL Active Pilates on 0415 128 804 or send us an email to receive more information about these classes.