The Tensor Fasciae Latae: new Starbucks drink or important muscle of the hip?

Side Clam and Book PilatesFirst of all, we’re joking!  To hear the correct pronunciation of this important muscle of the hip, click here! The correct pronunciation is fash-ē-ē-lā-tē or fash-ē-ə-lā-tə, not “LATTE” as in the coffee drink!  (But don’t you think it would make a GREAT name for a new coffee concoction?)

WePosterior View of Hip Muscles promise to finish our discussion of the gluteus medius and its importance in ground reaction force, but first, we’ll discuss the cousin of the gluteals, the tensor fasciae latae or “TFL.”  The TFL is part of the “gluteal group” of muscles and literally, the name “tensor fasciae latae” means “tensor of the fascia lata.”  Well, that’s not very helpful now, is it?!  Generally speaking, the muscle originates on the iliac crest and the outer portion of the ASIS and inserts into the iliotibial band (click here to read more.)  The tensor fasciae latae abducts the femur and assists with medial rotation and flexion of the hip.  Also, it stabilizes the pelvis on the head of the femur and through its insertion on the iliotibial band, stabilizes the femur on the tibia.

NAnterior View of Hip Musclesow here’s the catch:  when the thigh abducts, the gluteus medius should fire first and the tensor fasciae latae second.  However, in many cases, the tensor fasciae latae fires before the gluteus medius, which simply means the gluteus medius is not doing its job (more on this later!)  Also, though the tensor fasciae latae assists in medially rotating the femur, it should not be the ONLY medial rotator of the femur!  The adductors, specifically adductors brevis and longus and the upper portion of adductor magnus, assist with medial rotation of the femur yet are grossly underused by most of the population.  (More on the adductors later this week!)

EPosterior View of Gluetus maximus and Gluteus mediusxercise bands, small balls and Pilates rings are excellent ways to target both the abductors and hte adductors in the same workout.  Try “Tighten and Tone“, “Sculpt and Shape“, “Stretch and Strengthen” and the “Small Ball Toning Workout” on  For individual exercises, try Episode 112 “Side Lying Clam and Book” or any of our exercises such as Half Roll Down or Half Roll Down with Obliques squeezing the Pilates Ring or a small ball between your knees.


July 13, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Pilates on Fifth Postings, Pilates Posts, The Pilates Center of New York Postings, Postings. 1 comment.

Shape Up for Summer: Get the most out of your Cardio!!

woman-runningSo we’ve talked so far about shaping your arms, your abs and waistline for summer, but the main ingredient to this Shape Up for Summer Recipe is CARDIO!!!!  Despite the hours you may put in toning your body and sculpting your muscles, if you do not burn the fat that might surround them, YOU WON’T BE ABLE TO SEE YOUR BEAUTIFUL MUSCLES!!!!  At our Pilates studio, we encourage our clients to cross train with cardio, to the extent that we have cardio equipment in the studio and offer CARDIOLATES® classes so that more cardiosvascular exercise may be integrated into a Pilates workout routine.  However, success with cardio exercise depends on many factors other than the type of cardio fitness plan that you choose.

cardio-dvdSuccess with a cardio routine depends on three factors:  frequency (how many times per week), duration (how many minutes) and intensity (degree of difficulty), and they are all interrelated.  For example, a cardio routine that is of super high intensity may be sustainable for as long a duration as something that is of moderate intensity.  And there is also the enjoyment factor!  For example, something like climbing stairs is VERY intense, burning up to 150 calories in ten minutes for someone my size (click here for more information); however, if you loathe climbing stairs and cringe at the sight of a stairmaster, you may not be likely to stay on the stairmaster for a sufficient duration to see great results.  On top of that, torturing yourself with cardio you hate will likely make you feel justified in skipping your workout the next day (frequency).  However, if you love walking, even though it burns less calories when compared with that of other, more high intensity choices, you will most likely increase both the frequency and duration of your workouts, burning more calories over the long term.  Some of our clients over the years who are the tiniest are the ones who walk all the time!!!

Plan your cardio routines over a week, not each day, so that you give yourself some leeway.  Don’t worry about having to burn 500 calories in a single workout session, especially if you know that you typically can only squeeze that killer workout in twice a week.  Wouldn’t it be better to do something that burns only 300 calories, but actually has you doing it 4-5 times per week?  That’s a net gain of 200-500 calories per week.  And everything adds up.  EVERYTHING!  So, find a form of cardio that you love to do, because then you’ll do it!!

Life is meant to be enjoyed, not endured, and that goes for cardio, too!!!

New CARDIOLATES® workouts will be up on next week!!!

May 4, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Pilates on Fifth Postings, Pilates Posts, The Pilates Center of New York Postings, Postings. Leave a comment.

The Q Angle and Pilates, part two

q-angleOn Friday, we discussed the Q Angle and how it affects womens fitness. The Q Angle can be the culprit of many knee injuries for active women. However, infusing a regime of conditioning exercises that target to strengthen the muscles around the knee can reduce the chance of injury. Pilates offers an array of such exercises that are not only low impact, but increase knee muscular strength and stability. We have incoporated a list of these preventative exercises below. Before we go into the list, there are a couple of things we would like to note!

1) You’re not going to change your bones, but you can strengthen the muscles around the knee and in the upper thigh to reinforce proper biomechanics.

2) Pilates is an excellent form of cross-training, but to really prepare your knee for the stresses placed on it with your favorite sport, exercises that do involve gravity, plyometrics and controlled instability will be absolutely necessary. There is a great article on ACL injury prevention exercises at

3) If you know your knees are vulnerable, then running may never be for you. But there is always the elliptical, the stair master, spinning, and our favorite, rebounding. Even though rebounding does involve more weight going through the joint, it is more gentle than running because the mat absorbs over 87% of the shock. Our clients and instructors who are not able to run because of knee pain can typically rebound without any pain at all.

4) With all exercises, standing or supine, make sure that your knee is tracking over the center of your foot… between the 2nd & 3rd toe. For more information, click here.

5) It is also wise to check if your femur (thigh bone) in rotating internally or externally as you bend or straighten your knees.

Some exercises that specifically target the musculature around the knee which may enhance overall knee stability. All of these exercises are either featured in one of our podcasts, our Pilates on the Go! DVD, or one of our specialty leg workouts at This list is certainly not all inclusive; it’s simply some of the exercises that popped into mind first.


Shoulder Bridge

One Leg Kick

Single Leg Stretch

Short Plank 3

Side Leg Lift Series

Standing Balance Exercises



Bend & Stretch

Standing Squats with ball against wall (reduce range if necessary)

Stretch Band

Footwork with Band

Side Lying Series

Side Lying Bend & Stretch

Kick Back



Bend & Stretch

Knee Stretches (not for knees in their vulnerable state)


Foot Press on Long Box

Standing Leg Press

Forward Step Up (harder)

Forward Step Down (even harder)


Bend & Stretch

Supine Bend & Stretch

Side Lying Side Kick Series


As we mentioned in our previous blog about the Q angle & Pilates, your Q angle will not decrease regardless of how diligent you are with your exercises. However, as an increased Q angle increases the chance of injury, these exercises, done with proper biomechanics and alignment will strengthen the muscle around the knee, creating a much more stable joint. For a visual of the Q Angle, click here. To better understand the Q Angle and how it can affect your fitness regime, click here to read on with Elizabeth Quinn’s article.

April 27, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Pilates on Fifth Postings, Pilates Posts, The Pilates Center of New York Postings, Postings. Leave a comment.

The Q-angle and Pilates

child_knee_jumpers_causes021Have you ever wondered why some people can run marathon after marathon without knee pain, while others attempt to begin an exercise fitness program of running which inevitably sidelines them for weeks, even months with a knee injury? Well, the culprit may very well be a large Q angle, or, very simply, the angle at which the femur (the thigh bone) meets the tibia (the shin bone). If you’re having a hard time visualizing these concepts, stand in front of a mirror and notice where your hip bone is in relation to your knee cap. Most marathon runners, even females, have VERY narrow hips. Their hip bones and knee caps are close to vertical alignment. This would be a Q angle of no more than 5-6 degrees.

Most of us women have hips that are wider than that. Dr. Elizabeth Quinn wrote about the Q-angle for “On average this [the Q] angle is degrees greater in women than in men. It is thought that this increased angle places more stress on the knee joint, as well as leading to increased foot pronation in women. While there may be other factors that lead to increase risk of injury in women athletes (strength, skill, hormones, etc..), an increased Q-angle has been linked to: patellofemoral pain syndrome, chondromalaycia, and ACL injuries.” While we HIGHLY recommend that you read the whole article (it’s fantastic), we would like to share how to incorporate the knowledge of the Q angle into your Pilates exercise and fitness routine.

Pilates, even mat Pilates is EXCELLENT for strengthening the muscles around the knee, which will help prevent injury. On top of that, Pilates exercises are impact-free: your knee is not overloaded with extra weight, surging through your joint at an oblique (non-vertical) angle. BUT, to get the most out of Pilates you must focus on the star muscle of the knee, the vastus medialis. We wrote alot about the vastus medialis in our “Straighten your Knees, Please!“, blog, but it really cannot be stressed enough. As we know the main question will be which exercises you should do, we’ve composed a list of exercises involving mat exercises with small equipment, as well as Pilates equipment exercises, to follow on Monday. Stay tuned!

April 24, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Pilates on Fifth Postings, Pilates Posts, The Pilates Center of New York Postings, Postings. Leave a comment.