Exercises for combatting rounded shoulders.

Shoulders are one of my picky points. Why? Well firstly because I have had to really work on mine. They have always been a sticking point for me, I remember a Pilates teacher walking down the road with me once saying “Shoulders down” every 2 steps! Carrying, feeding and rocking babies always affects my shoulders and upper back. So I guess you could say I’m a bit picky about shoulders as I know how much it poor posture in this area can affect you.

I would encourage you to look in the mirror at your posture, side on and front on.

1. Are your shoulders level?

2. Are your shoulders rounded?

3. Can you slide your shoulders further down in your spine, so are they too far up towards your ears?

4. Do you stick your ribcage forward? (Ladies, no boob thrusting is needed!)

Here are some exercises to help you strengthen your upper back and focus on your shoulders.

Really good if you sit at a desk for some time and know your shoulderes are suffering. Also brilliant for mums who are feeding, carrying, rocking babies and babywearing.

3 Moves to think about with Diastasis

 If you have abdominal separation, or are pregnant, here are 3 moves to stay clear of…
1. Sitting up from Lying
It’s such a simple everyday move but sitting up in bed is something to modify. Why? It puts pressure on your rectus abdominus or “six-pack” muscles. These muscles you want to look after. They have to stretch and make room for your growing bump and can separate. This can be a normal part of pregnancy but also something you can help lessen the risk of. Avoid any exercises like sit ups or curl ups or sitting up from lying on your back will help with this.
2. Lifting heavy weights which puts strain on your back, core and can affect your posture.
This can be hard to avoid if you have another young child. Try training them to walk or use a scooter more. Bring in the idea of sitting down for a cuddle rather than walking around holding them. I still have to carry my toddler but he now goes in a sling on my back which helps my posture and distributes the weight more evenly.
Lifting also puts extra pressure on your pelvic floor which is already working harder than normal.
3. Sitting in a bucket seat in the later stages of pregnancy.
Sitting on a sofa or almost any comfy chair can lead to your pelvis being tilted so you are not seated in the best position for either your lower back or to allow your baby to descend into your pelvis. Sitting on an exercise ball or a high backed chair will help you sit up tall so that baby can get into position easier.
Diastasis Recti

What your shoulders are telling you

Shoulders. Officially one of my picky points. Why? Well firstly because I know what it is like to feel you are carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders and secondly because it such an easy thing to spot.

Sitting in a meeting today I could see that 90% of the people in the room were sat with rounded shoulders and their necks jutting forward. Over time that becomes a habit and that habit leads to a muscular imbalance.

This week I have taught a few classes that are not my usual ones. It’s given me a fresh insight into how many people struggle with their shoulders and upper back posture. If you are in a class with me “Shoulders” is one of my common cues!

I used to have awful upper body posture. I can remember back to being 18 and having a massage. Even then the masseuse told me how tight my upper traps were. Sitting at a desk, working long hours at a computer and not exercising enough really did not help. Fast forward 10 years and Pilates found me. Walking down the road next to a Pilates teacher I remember being told “Shoulders” every 2 steps. Finally I got it 😉

I now spend time focusing on my shoulder function, strengthening my lats and traps in my back. It really works wonders. I also know my triggers – stress, feeding babies and carrying children. In any of these situations I really need to overfocus on my posture.

So how are your shoulders and what are they telling you?

Take a look in the mirror at a few points in the day and check out those shoulders. Are they level or do you have 1 higher than the other? Do you have any pain or tension in them? How do you sit, stand and move your arms?

Some great shoulder function exercises include: Chicken wings, Diamond Press, Sphinx and using weights for a chest fly and ribcage closure.

Here is one of my fav’s at present:

 

Pimp Your Pelvic Floor Was a Success!

This week we ran our first Pimp Your Pelvic Floor workshop. In fact it was our first every Pilates workshop!

We had 5 ladies, 4 of whom were already mums and 1 of who was 36 weeks pregnant with twins! Plus we had the company of a beautiful 11 week old baby 🙂

I so so so enjoyed this workshop. It was amazing to share knowledge, pass on tips, get feedback from the ladies and then run a practical side to the session.

We spent time on the anatomy of the pelvic floor and then looking how it functions as a part of the whole body. This part especially I find important. The pelvic floor doesn’t work in isolation does it, it works under loads and under pressure as we walk, lift, cough, jump and move everyday. Looking at the models of the pelvis showed us all how the pelvic floor really is affected by movements we do and is connected to the body.

The feedback has been really good with participants ranking the workshops as excellent. We hope to run these regularly – so don’t worry if you haven’t been able to book on yet.

Pilates with Priya: Keep Calm and Do Kegels

Looking forward to running the next one in October 🙂

Pilates can work wonders for Pelvic Girdle Pain (SPD) – a testimonial.

Here is an amazing testimonial from a lady who is now not just a client but also I now consider a friend. When Louise first came to me I really wasn’t too sure if I was going to be able to be of much help. I had to think creatively to come up with solutions for exercises she was able to do and over time I watched her get stronger, more confident and have less pain. This shows me how if you trust the science, assess the body in front of you and adapt accordingly it really can work wonders!
When I came to Priya, I was in already in a bad way and suffering with a lot of pelvis & hip pain and unable to do very much activities at all. I was also on crutches.
However, Priya was amazing, she assessed me and tailored a plan that was completely individual to me and my limitations with SPD. To my amazement, even after just a few sessions with Pirya, I noticed an improvement in my pain levels and had improved mobility. I continued to attend pilates sessions with Priya and used the moves learnt in my sessions everyday at home. I was unable to do very long but even just 10-15 minutes a day really helped. I was able to attend classes up until 7 months, & continued at home until almost the end of my pregnancy.  This was a vast improvement on my first pregnancy, & although I was still in pain, this time I could keep moving and was able to reduce the amount of pain relief I needed to take.
Pilates with Priya: The Pelvis
Post pregnancy i found that the pilates i had done pre birth had made a massive difference to how quickly I recovered from the spd post pregnancy. In my first pregnancy it took me almost two years to fully recover from the spd. However, this time I asked Priya to recommend some pilates exercises I could do from day 1 post pregnancy. She gave me three simple exercises which I did everyday for the first 12 weeks & they made an enormous difference to my recovery post pregnancy.
At 12 weeks I went back to pilates and was amazed by how much I had already improved from when i was pregnant.  I have continued to attend pilates twice a week with Pirya, and I contine to me amazed by what my body can do considering how much pain I was in a mere 7 months ago when my daughter was born.
For me attending pilates with Priya whilst I was pregnant and had spd was by far the best thing I did. It helped enormously with my pain and mobility and Priya was and continues to be amazing in understanding my body and individual needs. My SPD was extremely severe and I was previously told it was too bad to be able to attend a normal antenatal class, therefore,  I was really worried that doing any pilates would really hurt and make the SPD worse. However, Priya introduced me to very simple and gentle moves, which at first I thought were so basic they couldn’t help. However,  I couldn’t believe how much they did help and i would really recommend to anyone suffering with the SPD to try doing pilates.

I came to Priya for Pilates back in January 2014, 3 months pregnant and already really suffering with pain from SPD. In my first pregnancy the SPD became so bad that I ended up having to use a wheelchair as I couldn’t walk without pain. Therefore,  I was determined to try and prevent the same thing happening in my second pregnancy and a friend had told me how good Priya was, specifically in using pilates to help alleviate pain associated with spd.

Squat & Scapular Squeeze: a perfect combo for working the upper and lower body.

Squats Rock. Period. One of the best exercises if you are pregnant or postnatal. They strengthen your legs, bum, thighs, work your pelvic floor and your core. Just to add in a bit extra I’ve used a resisitance band to work the upper back too. A fabulous all-rounder of an exercise.

If you aren’t pregnant/postnatal this is ALSO a fabulous exercise. Try it out and let me know how you find it.

Life with 2 kids

The past 15 months has actually flown by in a mix of sleep deprivation, adrenaline and frenzied activity including Pilates. Having my second baby has meant that I’ve found a lot of things easier in terms of understanding my baby’s needs, realising why they are crying and knowing top tips like how to occupy a mobile baby when you need them to lie still for a nappy change (give them your phone) and to never throw them in the air after a feed, unless you like a milk explosion in your hair.

Pilates with Priya: my crazy family

What have I learnt?

That having 2 kids is twice the work, twice the sleep deprivation but four times the pleasure. I’ve so enjoyed watching my 2 get to know each other. From the moment her little brother was born Miss K has loved spending time with him and now he reciprocates that. Watching how their faces light up when they see each other is just beautiful.

Boys are cheekier, move faster, get into more mischief but give more kisses and cuddles! Today I’ve had a toothbrush in the toilet, porridge in my hair and found him standing up at the kitchen sink trying to wash up.

Changing a boys nappy is different to a girls 😉

Second baby means you are even more sleep deprived as you wake up with both children and cannot nap in the day. My best moment recently was getting a lift home with hubby and not realising for over 24 hours that I’d left my car the other side of the city. Thankfully not in a car park or that would have been a big fine!

I can juggle a lot of things at once, most of the time. Some days it gets too much and I just need to ask for help. You know what? That is ok. Find friends who you can be yourself with, hang out with warts and all and who will be there at those times.

Children break you – in the nicest posssible way. My patience has been tested to it’s limits, my teaching skills refined and my  body pushed, pulled and climbed upon. I lift, carry, throw and move heavy people daily. Pilates fixes me and my children break me. It’s an ongoing battle.

My studio is my haven. In there, it is usually peaceful 😉

Top Tips:

Relax into the carnage. Your house will be a mess but your children are making memories and you don’t want to miss those moments. The second you tidy up there will be a child filling the space.

Keep a camera ready at all times. Thank goodness for my phone. Capture those funny times.

Embrace the moment. They really do grow up so very fast. You don’t want to miss it. Even when you’ve been rocking the baby for an hour, feeding most of the night or have to cancel something as the toddler is ill – I try to see the positive. I get to spend more time with them whilst they are little.

Prepare ahead as much as you can. If I have a hectic morning I will even put the cereal in bowls the night before. If you want to eat healthily then cooking in bulk and meal planning really helps. However as much as you prepare ahead, there will be times a nappy explosion comes at the wrong time and you are just late!

Nutrition in Pregnancy: What to Eat.

Diet in pregnancy is key. What you eat in that time will influence the growth and development of baby not only whilst it is in your womb but for the rest of it’s life. It is therefore a pretty big responsibilty to eat well isn’t it. Research shows us the risk of chronic diseases can be influenced this early on by the mum’s diet – we are talking type 2 diabetes, obesity and some inflammatory diseases, so it’s pretty important stuff. Your baby’s tastes can also be influenced by what you are eating, which makes sense seeing as they are getting their nutrition from you. Here are some top tips on how to ensure your diet is well balanced and keeps both mum and baby in tip top condition.

Nutrition in Pregnancy -What to Eat.

Eating for 2?
A myth, sadly! You actually don’t need to eat as much extra as you may think when pregnanct. Many people I meet use pregnancy as a chance to over indulge. It’s almost a green light for chocolate and biscuits. However the body actually adapts in pregnancy by either absorbing more from food or by decreasing the amount of nutrients lost. It’s a very clever system, which means you don’t need to be eating much more at all when pregnant. For example non-haem iron (from plant sources) is absorbed better and less iron is lost as menstruation does not occur in pregnancy. For some nutrients such as calcium the increased amount needed for the baby is met extra calcium being released from the mum’s bones.

You will need the equivalent of an extra slice of toast and a banana in the last trimester of pregnancy, but that is about all. The best thing is to eat according to appetite, sticking to healthy, nutritious foods. It is also good to not deprive yourself, so the odd treat is still allowed! I used to have a soft spot for Crunchie’s when pregnant 😉

Key nutrients to focus on are:
Folate – extra 400µg per day for first 12 weeks of pregnancy and during conception.
Vitamin D – 10µg per day throughout pregnancy
Vitamin C – extra 10µg/day in last trimester
Vitamin A – caution, 100µg/day only, some vitamin supplements will be unsuitable in pregnancy as they contain too much Vitamin A.

Iron – eat plenty of iron rich foods. Good sources are red meat, green leafy veggies, dried fruit, beans and pulses, nuts, seeds and fortified breakfast cereals. Try a lentil bolognaise with plenty of green veggies or make some hummus with chickpeas and tahini.

Calcium – include good sources of this 3-4 times a day (yoghurt, milk, ovaltine, ready brek, dried fruit, rice pudding, custard, sesame seeds, gree leafy vegetables, fish with small bones). Why not make a smoothie with fresh fruit and yoghurt.
Omega 3’s – eat 1 x 140g portion of oily fish per week – salmon, fresh tuna, haddock, trout, mackerel, pilchards, kippers and sardines. You could make a fish pate or try sardines in tomato sauce on a baked potato.

Plan to Eat:
At least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables per day
Starchy carbohydrates at each meal – focus on wholegrains
Iron rich foods each day
3-4 calcium foods a day (yoghurt, milk, cheese, rice pudding, custard, sesame seeds, green leafy veggies, ready brek)
Oily fish once a week
Lean protein daily

Top 3 exercises for preparing for labour/birth

Giving birth is amazing, scary, hard work, unpredictable, a miracle and beautiful. I’ve only been through it twice and both times it has been a different, but unbelievable experience. I’m completely in awe of how the female body nurtures the baby and then goes through the birthing process. I learnt so much from giving birth the first time that it has shaped the way I teach my classes, with a focus on remembering to practice breathing, relaxing the pelvic floor and releasing tight muscles groups.

So here are my top 3 exercises to help you prepare for labour.

I used hip circles throughout my second labour as I found I naturally wanted to do this movement and it helped me work through my contractions.

The “drop the baby” exercise is the one I so needed to know before baby 1 as I was rubbish at relaxing my core! There are disadvantages to having a strong core 😉

CAT is one of the favourite exercises in my pregnancy classes. It is great for helping release and mobilise tight lower backs and just feels so good when you are pregnancy.

Go practise ladies!

 

 

If you want more exercises to help you through prepare for labour, help you through pregnancy and also postnatally then please check out my DVD’s.

Abdominal Separation #ppnchat from 9/9/14

Myself and the fabulous Claire Mockridge hosted the second twitter #ppnchat on 9/9/14, the topic was abdominal separation. Personally I’ve found these chats not only a chance to meet new people who work in the same field as me….but a chance to share knowledge, ask questions, be stimulated, be made to think about my practise and to learn. All of that in an hour, whilst sat at home. Pretty amazing networking and learning huh.

So if you work in the pre/postnatal field make sure you come along to our next #ppnchat on 7th October at 2.30pm.

If you missed the chat or want to catch up on some of the tweets and links (I know I do) then you can find a transcript of our chat here.