So I’ve reached the 6 week post baby place. This is usually when you get an appointment with your GP and hopefully are given the green light to exercise. In my GP surgery the 6 week check is carried out at 8 weeks. Fortunately as a specialist in the antenatal and postnatal fitness arena I know what exercise is safe to do at this stage, so this weekend I made a start. I’d love to go for a run and do some high impact work, but I’m very aware that my core is not as strong as I’d like it to be yet and my pelvic floor is still regaining strength. Also Relaxin is still in my system making my joints prone to overstretching. So I’m being patient and holding back. Doing high impact activites such as running, jumping, aerobics can put extra strain on your pelvic floor and joints. So my thoughts and advice are to take it easy and go for low impact options after birth until you have regained some core strength first, this is like your foundation for all other exercise. My Exercise this week: I’m doing some Pilates pretty much everyday. Just 15 minutes is really making a difference and I am now so much stronger than I was. I’m loving 1/2 roll ups, swimming in hands and knees and shoulder bridges with knee folds. I’ve even done a bit of Pilates with baby asleep in the sling 😉 Hard work indeed!
At the weekend I did my first weights session. I focused on squats, lunges, chest presses, shoulder rows and modified press ups. My toddler joined me with her imaginery weights and baby kicked along to the music on his playmat. Exercising with children can be done! It was nice to feel my muscles the next day! Walking is key for me too, I’m making sure I get a walk in 3 time a week, usually this is with baby in the sling or pushing the baby and toddler in the buggy – both make for a good workout 🙂
Think about it, however often in your day do you pay attention to your posture? If you don’t do Pilates then I am guessing the answer is not often if at all. Yet our posture plays a large role in how we look, walk, sit and feel on a day to day basis. Bad posture can result in back, neck and shoulder pain along with too tight muscles in some areas and overstretched, weakened muscles elsewhere. Over time poor posture can result in disc issues and degneration of joints.
So in the next few posts I am going to talk through different types of posture, hopefully this will help you identify your own postural imbalances, make you more aware, so that you can focus on correcting the problems.
In this post we are going to recap on Neutral Spine in a lying position.
Neutral spine is the natural position of the spine when all 3 curves of the spine — cervical (neck), thoracic (middle) and lumbar (lower) — are present and in good alignment. This is the strongest position for the spine when we are standing or sitting, and the one that we are made to move from. Knowing how to find the neutral spine position is crucial for doing many Pilates exercises correctly.
Neutral spine lying down:
1. Feet hip socket distance apart, flat on the floor, straight and facing forward.
2. Knees bent, a small gap between them.
3. Pelvis rocked into neutral so it is neither tilted up (lower back pressed into the floor) or tilted under (large curve through the lower back). The hip bones should be lined up and you should feel you are flat from hip bone to hip bone and through to the pubic bone.
4. Slight natural curve through the lower back, think about being able to pass an envelope underneath.
5. Shoulder blades slid down in the back.
6. Neck long with the chin slightly tilted towards the chest as if you were clasping an orange between your chin and your chest.
Just lying in this neutral position can help with back ache, try lying there for 5 minutes, release the tension in your neck and shoulder, drawing your core and relax yout bum, thighs and feet. Take a few deep breaths. Feels good doesn’t it!
Currently we are getting a few more sporting types coming through the studio who are looking to use Pilates to improve their performance. Pilates is especially effective in building core stability, improving focus and injury prevention. All sports have their own key patterns of movement and repeated use of these movement patterns can result in muscular imbalance. Less relevant muscle groups can become weak and inefficient, with the more predominant muscles becoming bulky and tight. Pilates focuses on the body as a whole, aiming to rebalance muscles and improve postural alignment. Here are some of the ways Pilates can help in specific sports.
Both Mike Atherton and Graham Thorpe use Pilates as a way to overcome previous injuries and to prevent future ones. Pilates provides key benefits for both batsmen and bowlers, which is why many top cricketers use it in their training. Mike Atherton, the former England captain, swore by Pilates as a way both to recover from injuries and to prevent future ones. Graham Thorpe, another England batsman, abandoned his cricket equipment and used Pilates to overcome serious back problems he’d acquired from playing the sport.
Pilates improves flexibility and strength, enhances posture, balance and co-ordination and develops core strength. Incorporating Pilates into your training programme is the perfect way for cricket players to improve their posture which in turn will improve the way they handle their cricket equipment.
Snowboarding and Skiing plus Watersports:
Pilates challenges the deep abdominal ‘core’ muscles that help to maintain the dynamic, balanced posture that is essential for safe and efficient skiing or snowboarding. A strong core helps to counteract the twists and turns of the slope, and gives you the ability to negotiate the slopes or the water with great balance and poise.
Tiger Woods, Annika Sorrenstam and Rocco Mediate have all incorporated Pilates into their training regimen and the results are clear!
The golf swing is a little one-sided, which can create imbalance in the body. Pilates helps you to swing from your core, not from your limbs, and to balance out the body against the forces of the swing. If you strengthen the core, increase your flexibility, build stability in the pelvis and shoulder girdles and balance both sides of the body, it will allow you to hit it farther, straighter and more accurately.
Runners advocate Pilates because it builds long, strong muscles, improves flexibility and lessens the risk of injury. Runners often suffer from back, knee and hip problems from the constant impact involved in running. Pilates concentrates on posture and alignment – it opens up the hips, the vertebrae in the lower back and focuses on joint mobility.
Football and Rugby:
A growing number of top footballers and rugby players do Pilates as a way of improving co-ordination, mobility, flexibility and technique, as well as for prevention and recovery from injuries. The All Blacks and the Welsh Rugby Union is among the high-profile advocates of Pilates
Football and rugby both demand rapid directional changes, often at near-maximum pace, which demans flexibility in the body. The players also need to deliver controlled power from unbalanced body positions for tackles and scrums – all Pilates movements are initiated from a strong core to provide stability, and targeting these requirements can aid injury prevention and enhance performance by developing stamina, co-ordination and strength. Hamstring tears are common in both sports – focusing on the stabiliser muscles of the pelvis (the buttocks and groin muscles), will help prevent them.