POSTURE ANALYSIS AND PILATES

This past weekend the Pilates Academy International held its very popular Anatomy, Biomechanics and Posture Analysis course at the Instructor Training headquarters at Pilates on Fifth in New York City.  The course was taught by Katherine Corp and Anna Hillengas, and was well received by the participants, a great group comprised of Pilates instructors and people who wish to become a Pilates instructor from New York, Philadelphia, Japan, Sydney and Spain.

My favorite part of the course is the Posture Analysis, as this is the point in the course where the somewhat “rote” memorization of anatomy and biomechanics comes to life in three dimension.   Suddenly the students discover their own postural abnormalities and can link their own posture to a muscle/group of muscles that are tight or loose, too-strong or too weak, or over/under-developed.  …And then there’s the “EUREKA!” moment, in which students realize WHY they’ve been having problems with a certain exercise or group of exercises.

Natural Curves of a Healthy Spine

Take, for instance, the case of excessive kyphosis of the thoracic spine.  While the thoracic spine is supposed to have a slight curve posteriorly (see picture right), the curve can become excessive, as in the picture below (see picture below).  In this type of posture, the muscles in the FRONT of the shoulder, the pectoralis major, minor, and anterior deltoids are usually tight, while the muscle in the back of the shoulder girdle, the middle & lower traps and the rhomboids, are usually long and weak as well.   The muscles in the back of the neck, the cervical extensors, however, will usually be tight.  While every case is unique, just by looking at the posture, you can assume that exercises like Breast Stroke and Swimming will be very difficult, if not impossible to perform with a great deal of success IN THEIR ORIGINAL PILATES FORM!  It is the job of the Pilates Instructor to find a way to work around the initial postural stumbling blocks so that clients can perform Pilates safely  (click here for our safety videos on Ultimate Pilates Workouts.com).  We suggest modifying exercises to start upright, or lying at the edge of a bed (or a Cadillac) to work the extensors just to bring the spine into a more neutral alignment.

Kyphosis

Curvature of the Lumbar Spine

Another example is the case of excessive lordosis of the lumbar spine.  Similar to kyphosis, the lumbar spine has a natural curve, but its curve is anterior (see picture right).  However, the curve can be excessive, as seen in the picture.  For these individuals, oftentimes the external obliques are usually weak, while the hip flexors are very tight.  In the back of the body, the hamstrings are relatively long while the erector spinae are short and tight.  People with lordosis who do Pilates have to be very careful with exercises like The Hundreds, Double Leg Stretch and Teaser, as it will be difficult for them to maintain a strong connection in their abdominal muscles against the weight of the legs.  We suggest starting with seated exercises like Half Roll Down or Obliques Roll Down, and doing supine exercises with the legs in the air with the legs in Table Top, or knees bent.  For more suggestions about Pilates exercises for Lordosis, we suggest you check out one of our Pilates Instruction Manuals or our training videos on Ultimate Pilates Workouts.com.

Vertical, Posterior Tilt and Anterior Tilt of the Pelvis

And finally, just not to leave any postural deviation out, there are those with the flat back posture.  These individuals distinctly do not have curvature in the lumbar spine, and the pelvis is in a posterior tilt as well (see picture left).   In terms of muscles, tight hamstrings are usually rampant, so don’t expect your client (or yourself, for that matter), to be able to sit right up on the sits bones with the legs outstretched in front…. It might not be possible!!  Be prepared to modify the start positions of all Pilates exercises that start seated with the legs straight, such as Spine Twist, Spine Stretch Forward, Saw, etc.  Additionally, the abs may be a little short and tight, so exercises such as Swan Dive, which involve full extension of the spine and lengthening of the abdominal muscles, may be challenging.

It’s actually easy to do a postural assessment on most people, but keep in mind that our abnormalities or affectations are not so big that it’s the first thing noticed.  Don’t try to make yourself (or your friends, for that matter), “fit” into one of the scenarios that we’ve included here.  We’ve mainly included them because it’s oftentimes much easier to understand something when you think of it in terms of extremes, and that’s what these cases are.  For example, Kimberly and I both have scoliosis (but our spines curve in opposite directions…), but it’s not so severe that it’s ever kept us from doing anything.  It merely explains why Katherine tends to roll to the right while doing Rolling Like a Ball, while Kimberly rolls to the left!

You, too can do a quick postural assessment that will help with your Pilates prowess.  In our search for pictures of different postural abnormalities/affectations, we came across a site that gave a how-to for postural assessments, and it’s quite thorough!  As we are not big fans of re-inventing the wheel, we just thought that we’d link to it!  Here is the link for “How do to a Standing Postural Assessment”: http://mindbodyfitness.suite101.com/article.cfm/how_to_do_a_standing_static_postural_assessment.

In a final note, learning Posture Analysis gives people watching a whole new meaning!!  Try sitting at a Starbucks and doing a quick posture analysis on by passersby, or even a postural analysis on the person standing in front of you at the bank or at the supermarket……  Happy watching!

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January 27, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Pilates on Fifth Postings, Pilates Posts, The Pilates Center of New York Postings, UltimatePilatesWorkouts.com Postings. Leave a comment.

Pilates and posture, part two

watchdogIn addition to maintaining the three natural curves of the spine, head placement is important for ideal posture. Because we as a population spend most of our time leaning over a desk, driving or propped up on pillows in bed watching TV, a common postural flaw in this country is forward head posture.

Ideally, the head is centered over the body with the ear lobe aligned with the midpoint of the shoulder (and the shoulders should not be rounded forward, but more on that tomorrow!) But most of us look down when we walk, read a book, write, use the computer, cook, etc., so our heavy heads pull us out of ideal alignment. Soon, the forward head posture feels normal and if we align our heads over our shoulders, we feel like we will fall backwards!

Here’s a good exercise to try: assume the “all 4″s” position and feel how gravity wants to pull your head closer to the ground. Don’t let that happen! Think of pulling the backs of your ears up towards the ceiling to bring your head in line with your spine. Do NOT think of jamming the chin into the chest as this usually creates tension and poor alignment.

Remember, your head weighs about 12 to 15 pounds, and every inch it sits forward of ideal alignment on top of the shoulder means another ten pounds of weight is added to your head from your body’s perspective. This can lead to muscle strains in the upper back, a rounding of the upper spine and cause neck and shoulder tension as well.

April 21, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Pilates on Fifth Postings, Pilates Posts, The Pilates Center of New York Postings, UltimatePilatesWorkouts.com Postings. Leave a comment.

Pilates and posture, part one

posture“Stand up straight!”  “Pull your shoulders back!”  “Don’t slouch!”  How many of us heard this as kids?

Good posture conveys self confidence, poise, leadership and many other positive attributes.  But posture is important not only for aesthetics, but also — and most importantly — for proper biomechanics, alignment and weight distribution throughout the body.

This week we will dissect the various aspects of good posture and the most common obstacles to achieving it.  As the spine is the center of the body, we will begin with a description of the spine and a definition of “neutral spine,” which is important for achieving proper posture.

First of all, the spine is comprised of 24 vertebrae that articulate with one another and another nine vertebrae in the sacrum — the bony triangle at the base of the spine with five fused vertebrae — and the tailbone consisting of four fused vertebrae.  The 24 vertebrae which articulate with one another are flexible enough to give us the movement we require to complete our daily functions.

The neck — or cervical spine — contains seven vertebrae and has the most flexibility of any part of the spine.  The rib cage area — or thoracic spine — contains twelve vertebrae and has the least amount of flexibility because of the limitation (and thus the protection) imposed by the ribs.  Finally, the lower back — or lumbar spine — contains five vertebrae with a fairly large degree of flexibility naturally, though many find limitation as they age due to muscle tightness.

Contrary to the common command, “stand up straight!” the spine is not naturally straight!  The spine has three curves which should be maintained for proper biomechanics.  The cervical spine (neck) curves slightly forward, the thoracic spine (rib cage) curves slightly backwards and the lumbar spine (lower back) curves slightly forward again.  These curves give the spine resiliency and aid in the absorption of impact and stress to the body.

Pilates seeks to preserve the natural curves of the spine, which is why you may have heard the terms “neutral spine” and “neutral pelvis” in your Pilates class.  The spine in its neutral alignment facilitates proper breathing, proper functioning of the bodily organs (as nothing is compressed) and as mentioned, proper transfer of weight through the joints.

Want to learn more about good posture?  Check back the rest of the week for more on head placement, pelvic placement and more!

April 17, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Pilates on Fifth Postings, Pilates Posts, The Pilates Center of New York Postings, UltimatePilatesWorkouts.com Postings. Leave a comment.

Golfers find better posture through Pilates, part 3

golf-pilates-posture-311Adding on to our week long investigation of the set-up of the golf swing and common problems to avoid, we’ll highlight another common problem and show you how Pilates can help.

PGA certified golf instructor and certified Pilates instructor Rick Nielsen cites “sitting in the set-up” as another habit that essentially kills all hope for a good swing!

As stated in Part 1 of our Golf and Pilates series, in the set-up position, “the knees should be slightly bent…”  So don’t squat!  Sitting in the set-up position displaces the body’s weight backwards, thus the relationship of your body to the ball is altered, as the picture below shows.

golf-pilates-posture-321The exercises we described last time – the Spine Twist, the Spine Stretch Forward and the Saw – are excellent choices here as well, as all three exercises bring awareness to spinal movement and proper posture.  To conquer the sitting habit, try this:

1.    Stand with your back against a stability ball against a wall, so the ball is between you and the wall.  The ball should be placed roughly at your lower back.  Take a step forward with each foot so that your feet are not directly under you.

2.    Inhale, pull in your abdominal muscles and bend your knees to no more than 90 degrees of flexion, keeping the spine perfectly straight.

3.    Exhale, extend your knees to return to the starting position.

You may be thinking, “how will this teach me NOT to sit?”  This exercise helps build awareness of squatting, as most golfers who have the habit of squatting don’t even realize they are doing it!

Did you feel your core muscles engage doing this ball exercise?  Most likely, the answer is yes!  Well, that is because the ball helps you remain vertical when you bend your knees so that your core muscles engage naturally.  When you perform a typical squat, you have no choice but to stick your backside out and lean forward so that you don’t lose your balance.

Interested in longer workouts?  Try the “Get on the Ball” Workout for more great ball exercises or “Meet Your Core” for great core strengthening workouts using the BOSU from UltimatePilatesWorkouts.com!  And if you’re interested in a golf lesson, don’t call us!  Contact Rick Nielsen at PowerGolfPilates.net.

April 15, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Pilates on Fifth Postings, Pilates Posts, The Pilates Center of New York Postings. Leave a comment.

Simplifying the Saw

saw“The Saw” is one of those Pilates exercises that a lot of people “just don’t get.”  At first glance, it might just look like a hamstring stretch, but it’s actually more complex.  The Saw is a classical Pilates exercise that increases flexibility of the spine and strengthens the core.  The goal of the exercise is to use the abdominal muscles to rotate the spine, then flex the spine over the leg, scooping in the abdominals.  You can also think of it as combining the classical Pilates exercises of Spine Twist and Spine Stretch Forward.  Now, because some flexibility in the hamstrings as well as freedom of movement through the hip flexors is required, you might find it necessary to sit on a small cushion or even in a chair so that it is easier to keep the focus on the spine and the core.  It’s very important to start the exercise with your pelvis in neutral (think vertical) alignment.  First, rotate your ribcage to one direction, feeling like you are growing taller as you rotate.  Then, imagine that you’re trying to round your spine over a beach ball….  You have to lengthen first, then round to try to go over the ball.  The opposite hand reaches to the outside of your foot, as if you were planning to saw off your baby toe.  The other arm naturally rotates so that the thumb faces the floor…. It’s simply more comfortable!!  For a detailed video of how to get the most out of the Saw, visit our Pilates on Fifth podcast at http://pilatesonfifth.com/video/2007/10/03/saw/.  We also feature the Saw in many of our Mat Pilates Workouts at www.ultimatepilatesworkouts.com.

April 10, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Pilates on Fifth Postings, Pilates Posts, The Pilates Center of New York Postings, UltimatePilatesWorkouts.com Postings. Leave a comment.

Distinguishing good pain from bad pain in Pilates

spine-twistAs Pilates instructors, addressing a client’s questions regarding a sensation they are feeling in their body presents a challenge — and a dilemma. Sometimes, a muscle is working, which is “good pain,” but other times, pain is not at all good. So how do we answer?

We would love to be able to enter our clients’ bodies for that instant to evaluate whether the pain is good or bad, but alas, we can not! Thus it is important for Pilates practitioners to learn to distinguish good pain from bad pain.

If you are sitting down reading this, contract your gluteus maximus muscles (the ones you are sitting on) and hold the contraction until you start to feel the muscles tiring. (If you have an injury in your low back, sacrum or hips, please do not do this.) This is typically considered “good pain,” as it is the sensation you get from a muscle working. It is often referred to as “muscle burn.”

For a relatively safe example of bad pain, take your ring finger and gently pull it back towards your wrist until you experience discomfort. In most cases, because this joint does not have a lot of flexibility, you quickly feel discomfort and know instinctively that you should stop.

The difficulty in discerning the good pain from the bad pain in Pilates arises from practitioners experiencing bad pain and thinking it is good pain. They don’t want to give up or complain, so they continue exercising. One of the most common examples of this is neck pain in a Pilates session. Because many Pilates exercises require you to lift your head off the mat, the muscles in your neck must engage as well as the abdominal muscles. Many clients experience muscle fatigue in their necks quickly, and if they do not rest, this can turn into muscle strain.

Learning for yourself what is good pain and bad pain in your body is very important. Feeling your muscles working is normal, but feeling discomfort is not! If you have trouble distinguishing between the two, please discuss this with your Pilates instructor. Also, following a workout, delayed onsent muscle soreness is normal, so feeling sore the next day is not a cause for alarm.

Those of you at home doing workout videos, be careful about turning your head to watch the television while exercising! This is a recipe for neck pain!

April 6, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Pilates on Fifth Postings, Pilates Posts, The Pilates Center of New York Postings, UltimatePilatesWorkouts.com Postings. Leave a comment.

Key to the Core II: Core is more about just the Abdominal Muscles

core-strengthThe other day we googled “Pilates and lower back pain”, expecting to find a myriad of articles about how Pilates helps alleviate lower back pain.  To our surprise, the article which really captured attention was titled, “Is Pilates Bad for your Back?” (click here for the entire article with comments.) Most of us know that if Pilates is done incorrectly, then it may exacerbate lower back pain, but this article delved further, into Pilates’ emphasis on the role of the Transversus Abdominis and Multifidus.

When we first read the article, our initial reaction was a bit of incredulousness, as we thought that surely Pilates instructors both realize the importance of the full gamut of core muscles and cue accordingly, but the writers of this article seem convinced that Pilates instructors ONLY cue the transversus abdominis.  NOT SO, we say!!  Let’s face it, can you do ANYTHING just by engaging your transversus abdominis and deep pelvic floor muscles?  Aside from “drawing in” your abs and drawing up your pelvic floor muscles (as in Kegel exercises), the answer is unequivocally “no!”, as neither the Transversus Abdominis nor Pelvic Floor Muscles have any directional pull on bones.  They are muscles of endurance and contract tonically.

Now, as Pilates instructors, we all get in the habit of cueing the Transversus Abdominis, Obliques and Pelvic Floor Muscles in lieu of the Rectus Abdominis, Gluteus Maximus and other musculature because oftentimes our clients are often overusing those muscles anyway.  They simply don’t need to be cued…. that doesn’t mean they are not needed to perform the exercise!  Take the core challenge test, which we featured in our first, Key to the Core Blog (9/14/2008), and try to use ONLY your Transversus Abdominis and Pelvic Floor Muscles…. IMPOSSIBLE!!

There are quite a few AMAZING articles about core strength on the internet, so we could not possibly highlight all of them at once.  So, we’ll start with one of the more popular sites, about.com.  They feature a GREAT article on core strength, entitled, “Core Training -Good Core Training Takes More Than Ab Exercise” (click here to read article.) Once again, we encourage you to read the whole article, but, in summary, this article supports the concept that pure core stability consists of not only strengthening the core abdominal muscles, but also strengthening the muscles that improve the functional coordination of the spine, the pelvis and the hips.  Specifically, in addition to the abdominal muscles, multifidus and erector spinae, the writer mentions the hip flexors (yes, all of them), the gluteus maximus, medius and minimus,  the hip adductors, the hamstrings, and piriformis.  The article states “In other words,

“the goal of core stability is to maintain a solid, foundation and transfer energy from the center of the body out to the limbs.”  Fiona Troup, a physiotherapist and qualified Pilates instructor at the Sports & Spinal Clinic, Harley Street, quoted in the first article, concurs, stating, “a strong back means a combination of strong muscles in the buttocks, spinal area and shoulders not just a well-developed core area”.

So, with this new knowledge, as you’re doing your Pilates workouts, think not only of the muscles of the abdomen, but also all the surrounding musculature, working on balancing the muscle groups and creating a well-functioning body with a strong core as well as strong hips, shoulders, arms and legs!!  We recommend “Power and Precision Mat Workouts 30 or 45 minutes,” “Challenge Your Core Reformer Workout,” and “Power Chair Workout” on Ultimate Pilates Workouts (www.ultimatepilatesworkouts.com)!

April 3, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Pilates on Fifth Postings, Pilates Posts, The Pilates Center of New York Postings, UltimatePilatesWorkouts.com Postings. Leave a comment.

CARDIOLATES®: A smart way to add cardiovascular exercise to your workout regime

reboundingWe all know cardiovascular exercise is essential for both the health of our hearts and the maintenance of lean body mass. But most of us hate it!  Over the years, we have gone back and forth with a love/hate relationship to cardio exercise, sometimes forcing ourselves to do it.  Not surprisingly, many of our clients at Pilates on Fifth expressed the same sentiment. Clients say they feel they need to do cardio to lose the “layer of softness” (a nice way of saying fat!) that conceals the beautiful muscles they have toned and sculpted with Pilates, and yet finding a cardio regime that they are motivated to do has proven difficult.

In 2007, a paper by the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association stated that “to promote and maintain health, all healthy adults aged 18 to 65 yr need moderate-intensity aerobic (endurance) physical activity for a minimum of 30 min on five days each week or vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity for a minimum of 20 min on three days each week.” To read the full article, click here. While this can seem a bit daunting at first, the article subsequently states that the exercise can be broken up throughout the day.  And many of our clients were doing sufficient amounts of cardio to meet the guidelines set forth by ACSM and AHA, but as we looked over at their figures on the treadmill or on the elliptical machines, we lamented at the fact that all the work we were doing in their Pilates sessions was absolutely being derailed during their cardio sessions.

Searching for a form of cardio we could recommend to our clients, we developed CARDIOLATES®. We knew we needed to find a method of cardio that reinforces Pilates’ alignment principles and optimal posture, and then we discovered rebounding!  Rebounding has been derived from trampolining (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trampolining) like you’d see at the Olympics, but is quite different in the sense that rebounding is meant for sustained bouncing.  It is very powerful exercise, but the intent is NOT to get a lot of height.  Rebounding combines the forces of acceleration, deceleration and gravity, and as a result strengthens every cell in your body. So, we thought, by rebounding with careful attention to alignment and posture, every cell of the body can be strengthened in the body’s optimal alignment! The CARDIOLATES® rebounding technique focuses on maintaining the body’s vertical axis and thus strengthens the deep postural muscles in the body’s ideal upright alignment.  And this ideal alignment is reinforced with every bounce!

Below we’ve listed a whole myriad of benefits of rebounding in general.  These benefits are NOT limited to CARDIOLATES® rebounding, but we would like to add that with the CARDIOLATES® rebounding technique, you can add the benefits of strengthening the core, the postural muscles and body symmetry as well!  To find the source of this information, click here.  Dr. Albert E. Carter and Dr. Morton Walker collaborated to create this list.

Exercising correctly and regularly has great benefits for our health.

1.     Rebounding provides an increased G-force (gravitational load), which strengthens the musculoskeletal systems.

2.     Rebounding protects the joints from the chronic fatigue and impact delivered by exercising on hard surfaces.

3.     Rebounding helps manage body composition and improves muscle-to-fat ratio.

4.     Rebounding aids lymphatic circulation by stimulating the millions of one-way valves in the lymphatic system.

5.     Rebounding circulates more oxygen to the tissues.

6.     Rebounding establishes a better equilibrium between the oxygen required by the tissues and the oxygen made available.

7.     Rebounding increases capacity for respiration.

8.     Rebounding tends to reduce the height to which the arterial pressures rise during exertion.

9.     Rebounding lessens the time during which blood pressure remains abnormal after severe activity.

10.  Rebounding assists in the rehabilitation of a heart problem.

11.  Rebounding increases the functional activity of the red bone marrow in the production of red blood cells.

12.  Rebounding improves resting metabolic rate so that more calories are burned for hours after exercise.

13.  Rebounding causes muscles to perform work in moving fluids through the body to lighten the heart’s load.

14.  Rebounding decreases the volume of blood pooling in the veins of the cardiovascular system preventing chronic edema .

15.  Rebounding encourages collateral circulation by increasing the capillary count in the muscles and decreasing the distance between the capillaries and the target cells.

16.  Rebounding strengthens the heart and other muscles in the body so that they work more efficiently.

17.  Rebounding allows the resting heart to beat less often.

18.  Rebounding lowers circulating cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

19.  Rebounding lowers low-density lipoprotein (bad) in the blood and increases high-density lipoprotein (good) holding off the incidence of coronary artery disease

20.  Rebounding promotes tissue repair.

21.  Rebounding for longer than 20 minutes at a moderate intensity increases the mitochondria count within the muscle cells, essential for endurance.

22.  Rebounding adds to the alkaline reserve of the body, which may be of significance in an emergency requiring prolonged effort.

23.  Rebounding improves coordination between the proprioceptors in the joints, the transmission of nerve impulses to and from the brain, transmission of nerve impulses and responsiveness of the muscle fibers.

24.  Rebounding improves the brain’s responsiveness to the vestibular apparatus within the inner ear, thus improving balance.

25.  Rebounding offers relief from neck and back pains, headaches and other pain caused by lack of exercise.

26.  Rebounding enhances digestion and elimination processes.

27.  Rebounding allows for deeper and easier relaxation and sleep.

28.  Rebounding results in better mental performance, with keener learning processes.

29.  Rebounding curtails fatigue and menstrual discomfort for women.

30.  Rebounding minimizes the number of colds, allergies, digestive disturbances, and abdominal problems.

31.  Rebounding tends to slow down atrophy in the aging process.

32.  Rebounding is an effective modality by which the user gains a sense of control and an improved self image.

33.  Rebounding is enjoyable!

So there you have it!  Why endure a cardiovascular regime that you hate, when you could rebound and have a blast???  For more information about CARDIOLATES® classes in NYC, click here, and to find CARDIOLATES® near you, click here.  If you are interested in the CARDIOLATES® DVD, click here!

March 30, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Pilates on Fifth Postings, Pilates Posts, The Pilates Center of New York Postings, UltimatePilatesWorkouts.com Postings. Leave a comment.

Pilates for two: Spice up your workout! part 3

air-pushup-couples1So far in our Valentine’s special “Pilates for two” series, we have toned the abdominal muscles with the “Oblique” exercise and sculpted the outer thigh muscles with the “Outer Thigh Toner.”  Now, the “Air Push Up” strengthens and tones the arms.

Start position:  stand facing away from your partner, back to back.  The closer you are together, the easier it may be to balance, but if you want to challenge core strength, step away from one another!  The man holds the middle of the band shoulder distance apart and the woman holds the ends of the band.  Elbows are bent close to the sides with the fists in front of the shoulders.

Inhale, pull in the abdominal muscles and lengthen through the spine.  Make sure the neck and shoulders are relaxed.

Exhale, without elevating the shoulders, extend the elbows to simulate a “push up” in the air.

air-pushup-couples-2Inhale, return to the start positon with control, trying not to rock back and forth on the feet.

Exhale, repeat, adjusting the tension as necessary by either changing the hand position on the band or stepping away (or closer to) one another.  Repeat 10-12 times.

For you men out there, if you find this exercise too easy, don’t fret!  Working with lighter tension can strengthen the smaller muscles of the rotator cuff which always work to stabilize the head of the humerus in the glenohumeral joint.

For more great arm workouts, try “Pilates in Ten Arms” from the Pilates on Fifth Video Podcast or “Strong, Shapely Arms” from the Strong, Svelte and Savvy series of workouts on UltimatePilatesWorkouts.com.

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

“Dance as though no one is watching you”…. but do Pilates like everyone is!!

single-leg-stretchYes, we know that Souza did not end his famous poem as such, but if we’ve learned one thing from the filming of our Pilates workouts, it’s how to increase the intensity of your . If you don’t think Pilates is hard enough, then imagine that you are doing Pilates in an Olympic arena, equipped with a full panel of judges who score you based on proper execution…. WOW!! Take it from us, it’s grueling. You can take a “beginner’s” workout and turn it into one of the best workout sessions just by focusing on all the little details and fine tuning. We like to think of it this way: as long as you’re investing the time to work out, then why not get the most that you can out of your session? Here are some few helpful hints based on what we’ve gleaned from filming our Pilates videos for the site:

1) Pull your abs in!! …And when you think they’re in, pull in a little more! Then, with every new exercises and every other repetition, repeat!

2) Straighten your knees fully! We know that we’ve written about the knees before, but it really is a way to kick up the intensity and get the whole body involved.

3) Open the shoulders! Involve the muscles of the upper backto keep the shoulders from rounding forward and create that beautiful, trademark Pilates posture.

4) Don’t forget your glutes! When doing side lying or prone exercises, your glutes (the muscles in your buttocks) are key to stabilizing your torso and upholding Pilates as a total body workout.

So there you have it! Just a few simple tips to help you get the most out of your Pilates workouts. Also, in addition to the four points above, proper form and technique will make the Pilates exercises even more effective. If you need help with an exercise or just want to know if you’re doing a Pilates exercise correctly, simply check out any of our podcasts. (link to podcasts)

March 26, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Pilates on Fifth Postings, Pilates Posts, The Pilates Center of New York Postings. Leave a comment.

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