What postnatal pilates can do for you.

When you are pregnant there is a lot of focus on keeping your body healthy, looking after yourself and putting you first. There is a lot more time to focus on exercising well, cooking good meals and thinking in general. The midwife and friends/family are asking how your body feels, how is the bump, what aches and pains do you have and giving plenty of advice. Then the delicious baby arrives and is totally the centre of attention. Your life is suddenly a whirlwind of feeds, sleepless nights, surviving as best you can. There is little time and energy left for exercise. Cake and chocolate can be relied to get you through the day or are part of a treat at playgroups. No-one really asks how your body is feeling or what they can do to help YOU, it is more about the baby.

The problem is that when you are postnatal your body is pretty vulnerable. It has been stretched, carried a heavy weight around and then birthed a baby. Now if you had a major operation you would lie in bed, rest, recover, have meals brought to you and be looked after for a few weeks. This is really what you need after having given birth. Instead you have a little person dependant on you, you cannot rest as much as you need and you cannot listen to your body.

Postnatal Pilates: why all mums need it

As a pre/postnatal specialist Pilates teacher this is an area I focus on and love to teach.

Postnatal Issues Pilates can help with:

POSTURE:
It is hard to maintain good posture when you are sitting up feeding, especially at night. However without good posture, those aches and pains slip in. Muscles get tight in the wrong places which can cause restrictions in your movement and cause you to compensate.

Over time poor posture can cause long term pain throughout the body, so it’s not something you want to ignore. Postnatal pilates when run by a specialised teacher will put in exercises to strengthen your upper back, talk through shoulder placement with you and use functional exercises to help with those motherhood moves that you do daily.

Sitting more will also lead to tighter hamstrings, so these need to be stretched out regularly.

The key really is to find out which part of your posture you need to focus on and which muscles need releasing. A good class and teacher will highlight this to you.

FLEXIBILITY:
There can be a lot of hormones flying around. Relaxin is a hormone that can affect the laxity of your ligaments, so this can leave you vulnerable to overstretching and potentially pulling a ligament. Learning to work within the normal range of movement for your body is the key here and not pushing yourself too hard, too soon.

PELVIC FLOOR:
Having carried a baby around your pelvic floor has taken a lot of strain. If you have then pushed baby out then that is even more damage that will have occured to the pelvic floor. Pilates will help you strengthen the whole of your core, including your pelvic floor. If you need more help in this area then check out  “Pimp Your Pelvic Floor”

ABDOMINAL SEPARATION:
Many ladies suffer from Diastasis Recti, this is a condition that is common in pregnancy and nothing to be concerned about as long as it is fixed postnatally! For some, the abdominals will naturally heal up by themselves, for others it will take more work. Exercises such as curls ups, planks and sitting up from lying on your back are not suitable and can make matters worse. A specialist pilates teacher with postnatal training will be able to help you.

PELVIC GIRDLE PAIN:
If you suffered from this in pregnancy then the likelikood is that it will disappear once baby comes along. However it is always a good idea to do some strenghtening work postnatally. If your hips and pelvis were struggling in pregnancy then some TLC for them can make all the difference in the long term.

LOWER BACK PAIN:
One of the common complaints I see in mums. Those babies get heavy when you are carrying them around a lot. Having a strong core and good posture when you lift and carry is so important. Pilates will help train your body so you are stronger and more able to manage this. The release exercises will also help mobilise and decrease any pain.

If you aren’t local to me, then check out my Postnatal Pilates DVD.

The plague of tight hamstrings

Following on from our last post (where I discovered how tight my husbands hamstrings are) and a few enquiries this week…. I bring you the plague of most of the men who come to our classes and also quite a few women!

So what is going on and why does it matter?

Why do I have tight hamstrings?

  1. Genetic. Some people are born with tight hamstrings. Generally men have tighter hamstrings than women. Sorry guys. However you can do something about it!
  2. Too more sport and not enough stretch. It is really, really, really important you stretch properly after sport or any physical activity such as walking and cycling.
  3. Lower back problems and sciatica can cause those muscles to tighten up. Also tight hamstrings can lead to back pain. A bit of a circle there.
  4. Sitting. When your legs are bent, your hamstrings are shortened and flexed. If you have a job where you sit, then you commute to work, seated and then you sit again at home it will add up to a lot of sitting hours!

Problems it can cause:

  1. Tight hamstrings can pull the pelvis back, causing lower back pain.
  2. You are more prone to an injury as the muscles are tight and not working at optimal capacity.

How to help?

  1. STRETCH. Either standing, lying or using a band.
Hamstring Stretch

Hamstring Stretch

  1. Foam rollering can help release stuck fascia.

photo

  1. Try a sports massage on your legs to help loosen up those muscles.
  2. Stand up more and move around when you can. Find ways to reduce your sitting hours. Can you have a standing work station or build a walk into your working day? Can you change the way you commute to work or what you do in the evenings? If you do sit a lot then may sure you build some stretching time into your day.
  3. Try these moves out:
    1. Legs straight up wall with back on the floor – Lie on the floor and maintain this position for 15 minutes. You may notice your pelvis, hips and sacrum realigning and adjusting, too. When the hamstrings lengthen, it reduces the strain on your lower back. Nice.
    2. Straddle while sitting with back up wall – Sitting up tall with legs wide (The Saw starting position). Try to relax your legs and maintain this position for 5-10 minutes to stretch your adductor (inner thighs) and hamstrings.

Office Exercises for backs & shoulders.

Do you sit a lot for work/travel? It’s well known now that sitting for long periods really isn’t good for our bodies, however it isn’t always avoidable!

Sitting can often lead to tight hamstrings, rounded shoulders and lower back pain. Here are some ideas to help you release tension, alleviate pain and correct your posture.

Ask for someone to look at your chair and work station with you sat in it. Looking at whether your feet can go flat on the floor, how upright you are sat, the position of your laptop/computer in relation to your eyeline, arms and shoulders.

Think about what work you can do stood up. Can you make a standing workstation? For example, I often use our breakfast bar as a place to work as it’s the right height for me to work on my laptop.

Take regular posture breaks. Make sure you get up and walk around, change position and check your posture every 30-40 minutes. Build it into your schedule. This could even be a walk to make a drink or go to the toilet!

 

Whilst sat at your desk use shoulder shrugs, shoulder rolls and gentle release exercises to release tension.

 

Stretch at the end of every day and during the day if you can. A decent hamstring stretch will really make your body feel much better. Combine it with a CAT and your lower back will love you.

 

Sitting is shaving years off you.

How long do you sit for on an average day? Think it through to include driving, eating, work, relaxing…. I bet it is longer than you would expect. Most people don’t realise how long they sit. We’ve turned into a society that wants to sit rather than stand. Standing is seen as harder work, however sitting is actually causing your body a lot of problems.

Britain has been found to be one of the most sedentary countries in the world. We spend an average of 8.9 hrs a day sitting. That’s over a third of our day sitting .

Pilates with Priya: Sitting is shaving years off your life

The Issues:
Sitting for 8-10 hrs leads to a 90% gtr risk of Diabetes and 18% greater chance dying from heart disease and certain cancers. Now those are huge statistics. No wonder diabetes is on the increase.
Sitting for 60 mins  or more impairs the  blood flow through the arteries. When the blood doesn’t flow as easily you are at higher risk of a  stroke and heart disease. A simple 5 minute walk every hour can help negate this.
Sitting leads to a tight, less mobile back, lower back pain, tight gluteal muscles, short and tight hamstrings. This can all lead to back and shoulder pain. 

 

Remedies:
Stand up every 30 mins and have a walk around.
Find more ways to stand up as you do things – e.g. take phone calls on your feet, walk instead of driving, stand up on the train.
Build in regular walks to your day  – park your car further away so you walk further, have a lunchtime walk, get a dog!
Borrow small, active children that need exercising and chasing 😉 (mine are available on loan).
Look at getting a standing work station.
Use some simple leg and back stretches and mobility exercises daily.
Build Pilates in more than once a week – find the right exercises for your body and do them daily.
 

My back hurts…. what shall I do?

Many people come to us for help with their back pains and find that Pilates really helps. The act of strengthening their core, working on their posture, learning about neutral pelvis and stretching does wonders. 

So here is the question. “My back hurts should I come to class this week?”

Pilates with Priya: My back hurts...

It’s a tough one.  Sometimes the answer will be to rest it, sometime you will be better mobilising it in a safe environment. Here are my thoughts:

Why does it hurt? What led to it hurting in the first place? Knowing that can be very helpful to firstly preventing it happening again, helping us work out how to help you strengthen it and it will give us an idea what has happened. If you were bending down to pick up something and it twinged, then we need to work on your technique of picking things up, include some squats and core work in your repertoire.

Is this a new issue or a recurrent one. Your previous history is a great indicator of whether you should rest or keep mobile. For example if you have had disc issues in the past and the pain feels similar then you don’t want to be coming to class.

How much does it hurt? If it is a more of a dull back ache then you should probably come and let the teacher know so they can give you exercises to help. If it is a throbbing pain that you are needing painkillers for then you should be going to the GP and resting.

When you are in a class our advice is always – If it hurts then tell the teacher and stop. Pilates should not cause proper, full on pain. Yes your core will ache, your back may feel stretched, your shoulder blades may pinch…. but it is not a “No pain, no gain” type of exercise.

We are always here to give extra tips or to chat through things. For more specific exercises you can use at home  remember you can always use our DVD or book a one to one.