You actually start losing bone density from the age of 35! Read More→
You actually start losing bone density from the age of 35! Read More→
Joseph H. Pilates was born in 1883, in Germany. His father was a prize-winning gymnast, and his mother worked as a naturopath.
Joseph P was a sickly child. He suffered from asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever. He went on to dedicate his entire life to improving his physical strength. Besides skiing frequently, he began studying body building, yoga, gymnastics diving and kick boxing. He also studied the movements of animals. By the age of 14, he was fit enough to pose for anatomical charts. He came to believe that the “modern life style, bad posture, and inefficient breathing lay at the roots of poor health. He ultimately devised a series of exercises and training-techniques. A great inventor he engineered many sorts of equipment, required to teach his methods properly.
When he moved to the UK in 1912 he earned living as a gymnast, body builder and self defence instructor.
Being a German during the first world war he was interned on the Isle of Man and worked as a hospital orderly. He trained his fellow inmates in fitness and exercises. For those that were bed bound he used his inventive skills to get them exercising in bed, using the springs from their beds. It is said that these inmates survived the 1918 flu pandemic due to their good physical shape.
After the war, he returned to Germany but was uncomfortable with the political situation so left again in in around1925 and emigrated to the United States. On the ship to America, he met his future wife Clara who was a nurse.
Together they founded a studio near Broadway in New York City and taught there well into the1960s. He did a lot of work with the New York City Ballet and members of the local dance and performing arts community. The method was called Contrology. The method focuses attention on core postural muscles, that help keep the human body balanced and provide support for the spine. His exercise regimen built flexibility, strength and stamina. Pilates really became popular with the general population from the 1960’s. There has been research done to prove it’s effectiveness.
He produced several disciples and over time. His methods have been adjusted and so you will find that Pilates teachers teach in different ways. Some of the original exercises have been modified and other variations included. One of my original tutors was an Osteopath and she taught us to modify exercises for safety. I do quite a bit of modifying. The way I teach has certainly evolved over the years I have been teaching and some of you have been with me on that journey. My classes are no longer pure Pilates.
Joseph Pilates died in 1967 at the age of 83 in New York.
Vitamin D is considered to be the sunshine vitamin and it seems we are not getting enough.
The advice from a government-commissioned report raises concerns that we can not get enough through diet alone, particularly when sunlight is scarce and so we should supplement. Read More→
The back is a strong and flexible structure. It,s a marvellous piece of engineering but it is also susceptible to developing lots of problems. And because of the many nerves that run throughout the spine and into the rest of your body, a problem in the lower back can lead to leg pain, hip problems and more.
Why is your lower back so prone to injury?
The lower back is subject to injury while lifting something heavy with bad technique twisting, or a sudden movement. Any of these movements can cause muscles or ligaments to stretch or develop microscopic tears. Over time repetitive stress or poor posture can also lead to muscle strain or other soft tissue problems.
And while a muscle strain sounds simple, in the lower back the pain from a simple strain can be severe.
The lumbar spine (the lower back) has 5 motion segments and connects to the sacrum at its lowest point. Most twisting and bending takes place among those segments, although the majority of the motion takes place in the lowest two segments, called L4/L5 and L5/S1 The structures in these two lowest segments are the most likely to wear down over time or be injured. Being the lowest parts of the spine they also have the weight of a large part of he body going through them.
Tips to prevent lower back pain
1. Exercise your core. Strong core muscles provide support to the spine and reduce the risk of injury. Low-impact cardiovascular exercise like walking increases blood flow to the spine, suppling nutrients and hydration to the structures in your lower back. Classes like Pilates will work to target and strengthen the core muscles.
If exercise seems impossible to you, make small goals to slowly get yourself moving more, such as going up and down your stairs 3 times in a row or walking with a friend. A fitness tracker will count your steps and you can compete with others (some phones have this feature)
2. Correct your posture. Poor posture places pressure on your back and can cause degenerated discs to become more painful. Support the natural curve in your lower spine by using an ergonomic chair which will support your lower back. Make sure to get up and walk around at least once an hour if you sit most of the day. If you can, use a standup desk for at least part of the day that will benefit you. Learn how to stand properly again a class like Pilates will help you with this. A simple visualisation is to imagine you have a string on the top of your head pulling you up towards the ceiling or just try and grow an inch.
3. Lift heavy objects correctly. Even if you’re young and strong, you can still injure your lower back if you lift a heavy object incorrectly. If you don’t know the proper technique there will be videos on YouTube. Basically make sure your back is straight and you bend your knees using the power of your legs to lift the object not a bent back.
4. Improve your overall physical health. The spine reflects the overall health of your body. Anything you can do to improve your overall physical fitness and general health will benefit your spine as well. This includes drinking lots of water, not drinking excessive alcohol, eating a less inflammatory diet and stopping smoking/avoiding any nicotine intake.
It is also important to get enough deep, sleep, as too little sleep can lead to back pain and/or worsen an existing back condition.
5. Frequent travellers, take note. Traveling in a plane or car can really take a toll on your lower back. If you are a frequent flyer try and get up regularly and walk around during the flight and be careful when collecting your suitcase from the carousel. Learn how to be a defensive driver. Many people have sustained a serious back injury a result of a car accident. I’m afraid I’m stumped on what to do on a overcrowded commuter train!
6. Stretch your hamstrings. A little-known cause of low back pain is tight hamstrings. I often prattle on about gluteal amnesia (and a result of this is that the hamstrings will start to act as a postural muscle and this tightens them. The lower back will also tighten up and the tight hamstrings will make this worse. This is something we always work on in class.
If you have ever suffered with lower back pain (and 4:5 people will do at some stage in their life) you will know how this can take hold and effect your life.
So the first thing you look at is what are you wanting to do. Commonly this is to lose weight, tone up, or just be the best version of yourself that you can be at your age.
Make a list of what you want to change – it can be extensive, it’s a good place to start. Read More→