Friday, December 28, 2012

Ten Ways to Recover After Shoveling Snow

Yesterday was The Pilates Studio’s first snow day of the year.  I really tried to get to the studio in the morning…I was even aided by a very helpful neighbor that was determined to push my car up the road until I hit pavement at the corner.  Well it didn’t happen, and once we got the car back into the parking spot, I went inside and then watched as the plow cleared the street effectively burying my car in clods and clods of snow.  Again I ventured into the world to start digging.  At first, I was saying I probably wouldn’t make it out of the parking spot, but its better to dig now than tomorrow morning.   Then something happened, as I continued to shovel, I became absolutely determined to get out of my parking spot.  Each time I bent my knees to propel a shovel full of very heavy snow, I knew I would succeed.  I knew that I would get to The Pilates Studio!

You might wonder why I was so determined.  You could say that it was because I wanted to be sure that my clients were able to have their sessions.  That I was that dedicated to being a pilates instructor.  I was determined to take care of every body that I could…You could say that, but then again…It wouldn’t exactly be true.

My determination came from a much more selfish place.  Each time I twisted my body through several planes of motion to hurl the world’s wettest most frozen snow, I began to think about the foam roller and how great it would be to lie on it.  Then with the next clod I started thinking about a psoas stretch…Then I even began to crave the magic circle (Really I was)…You see I became so determined to get to work, not to teach, but to recover from all of the crazy shoveling….Then  I thought about our little joke about the fact that there are only two seasons at The Pilates Studio:  Shoveling season and gardening season.   So I made it to the studio in time to do the workout I began designing while digging and digging and digging!

And here it is!

Each exercise title is a link to more information about that specific exercise on The Pilates Studio’s Exercise of the Day Blog.

Katrina Hawley C.M.A, PMA-CPT
Director of Instruction at The Pilates Studio

Saturday, December 22, 2012

3 ways to Relieve Sciatic Pain

Once again someone told me I was a miracle worker, which while flattering is completely false.  No miracles come from me; I simply understand movement.  Before the “miraculous” session started this client was having sciatic pain, and after the session his sciatic pain was gone.  Hence the miracle worker moniker…Now as a way to dispel the miracle myth, I wanted to share my exact thought process during this session.  It involves listening and problem solving in collaboration with my client.  I am not fixing anything, I am simply listening.

When someone comes to me with an ache or pain, I simultaneously begin two separate thought processes.  First, how can I help provide some relief, and secondly what is causing the pain.  Both of these thought processes are important.  They must exist together to make change in the body.  If a practitioner only addresses pain relief without finding the cause, then he is simply putting a band-aid on the wound.  But, on the other hand, if he spends all of his time thinking about the cause of the injury without pain relief, then the pain will impede the body’s healing process. 

When my client came into The Pilates Studio with hip pain, I first started him with a "sciatic pain relief magic trick," which I developed after learning from Tom Myers.  In a class about the pelvis Tom Myers talked about sciatic pain often being caused by a Piriformis that is too long.  Pulled taught like a rubberband.  Hmmm I thought, “The clam shortens the Piriformis." 

The clam (an exercise) shortens the Piriformis by taking the femur in and out of external rotation.  So when somebody comes to me with hip pain, we do the clam on the side that hurts.
Thanks Ivy for demonstrating the clam for us

The next thing Tom talked about in this class is the relationship between the Piriformis on one side to the Piriformis on the other side.  They work together and adjust to keep balance in the spine.  As I was in this class, I thought, “maybe when someone is experiencing sciatic pain they should stretch the other hip.” So the next step in this “magic trick” is to do a Piriformis stretch with the leg that isn’t feeling pain.
Cross the ankle on the pain free side over the other thigh and hug your knees to your chest

Working asymmetrically is a tricky business.  So at the end of this magic trick series I work hard to turn on the “lateral brakes” of the hips.  This is the gluteus medius.  So after the first two exercises we do sidelying leg lifts on both sides.

After teaching this series to my client his pain had been relieved, but I was not convinced that it might not come back if he were to go on another seven mile walk (which is what brought it on in the first place.)

The entire time that we were working, we were reviewing his injury history.   We were speculating why the Piriformis was acting this way.  What support might it need?  I was sure that the pain was relieved for now, but we had simply provided support to the taxed part of the body.  We hadn’t changed the pattern.  It’s at this point in the process that I feel in collaboration with the client.  Yes I may know a heck of a lot about the myofascial system, but the story of the body comes from the client.  It was my job to listen to his insight, because I can never assume to understand someone else’s body as well as they do.

During these conversations together we both came to rest on a ruptured achilles tendon that happened years and years ago.  We speculated that limited range of motion in that ankle, may have caused some compensation patterns during the walk that after time caused pain in the hip.  We finished the session with this as our working theory…

He left the session with a strategy to relieve the pain in the moment.
I taught him two more series one for foot agility and one for Hamstring release, which you can follow the links above to read about each of these exercise sequences…

Are we done?  Did we fix the problem?  No because in my opinion the entire idea of “fixing” the body steers us away from listening to the story of the body.  The story that will tell us where to go; the story that highlights the way…

Next week we will continue to listen to the story, in my mind I am currently wondering about his spine, and the balance front to back, and side to side….These are the thoughts I will bring to the table, we’ll see what his insight is and move from there!

Katrina Hawley C.M.A, PMA, CPT
Director of Instruction at The Pilates Studio

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Will Power, New Year's Resolutions, and The Pilates Studio

The New Year is coming, bringing with it the infamous New Year’s resolutions. Every year we gear up to have the will power to make change and lots of it.  But if you are anything like me come February you will be sitting in judgment of yourself because maybe you didn’t quite stick to the resolution. You couldn’t summon the power over your will.  I wrote about this phenomenon last year, in what is going to be the first of my annual “Anti New Year’s Resolution Posts” and consider this the second annual, “We are going at it all wrong with New Year’s resolutions” post!

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the idea of new beginnings!  I love thinking about change, and finding ways to make healthy choices.  At the Pilates Studio, I am flummoxed by how many new friendships are created in the New Year.  We are even having a Winter Camp for those that want to jumpstart the New Year.  But it is my hope that our desires and our will can meld into a symbiotic relationship in which power is moot.  I would like to assert that new beginnings at The Pilates Studio will make will power unnecessary.

Let me tell you why:

You might find it odd, but exercise is not my favorite thing.  Yes this is The Pilates Studio’s blog, and I am a Pilates Instructor, but in all honestly exercise for exercise’s sake really bores me.  I am not one of those people that craves a 5 mile run (I actually don’t really like running).  The elliptical never happens unless there is a really great episode of Law and Order on the TV.  I am not the person that can’t sit still.  I am definitely not the person that would choose a hike over a really good movie.  Yet, I have been active all of my life.  Why is that? As a child I took Ballet classes, not because I loved exercise, but because they were fun.   Every dance class I took, I was having fun.  I was playing. I wasn’t exercising.  I trained for a triathlon once, but I didn’t really care about the event.  I was training with one of my dearest friends.  We were having fun, and wow do we have some good stories.  The minute we tried to “take it to the next level” I stopped; it wasn’t so much fun anymore. 

My point is this: Every time I have tried to start an exercise regime because of some insane feeling that I SHOULD exercise, I have failed.  I’ve fallen off the wagon. I’ve chosen to have a glass of wine instead of going to the gym. I’ve quit a swimming class because it was hard.   I’ve told my conscience, “You’re not the boss of me!!!!” Whenever I feel like I SHOULD exercise, I don’t!  I must totally lack will power!

Yet, I have led a very active life…Why is that? Because it is fun to be active, when you let go of the SHOULD. (You know that judging voice in your head that makes you feel bad about yourself if you are not absolutely perfect)  It is fun to be strong if you can let go of the “I SHOULD be stronger” It is fun to hike with friends, if you are hiking to be with friends, or see the stars.  If you are hiking because you SHOULD be hiking, then well, “blech” No fun at all. 

This soapbox has a point…For years in this world we have used the phrase will power as a way to force the human race into wellness submission.  You eat healthy because you have good will power.  You exercise everyday because you have good will power.  You sleep eight hours at night because you have good will power!  And I am here to say poo poo on that.  I have come to accept that if I don’t want to do something I won’t, and trying to make myself do something that I don’t want to do, is pointless! SO…What now???  If it’s not about will power and SHOULD what is it about?  Maybe it’s about finding community.  Maybe its about finding satisfaction…Maybe it’s about finding challenge.  I am not saying that we relinquish all structure and discipline from the world, but what if we let ourselves start looking at our choices without the idea of will power…Maybe we’ll start looking for fun things to do.  Maybe expression will be fun.  Maybe we will look for a movement class where the community of the class is as important as the movement.  Maybe we will look for a class that has as much laughter as exercise.  Maybe the way to be active in life is to stop doing what you SHOULD do, but what you want to do.

As I’m typing this I am listening to a mat class happening at The Pilates Studio.  I am reminded of how important community is at The Pilates Studio.  The focus and support among the participants is astounding.  I got to listen to friends greet each other with excitement.  A mother hugged her daughter.   As always around here the sense of humor of every person is on the surface.  People are getting stronger here, but there is so much more happening.  Getting to The Pilates Studio for class doesn’t require will power because people want to go!  The may not love the side lying hip series, but they get great benefit from the smile of connection they get from their neighbor.  Afterwards, a few people will linger.  They might have tea, and sit in the chat room.  They may ask questions or talk to a friend about weekend plans.  Someone may console another who’s hurting.  People don’t need will power to come to The Pilates Studio, because there is magic going on here!

Director of Instruction at The Pilates Studio

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Listening to the Body at The Pilates Studio in Hadley

“Hmm I’m hungry?”
 “I should have worn a warmer jacket!”
“I’m not sure that I like this person”
“I’m so tired”
“It’s Hot!”
“Woh too much coffee!”

All of these phrases might make up a part of our internal dialog.  They are our reactions as human beings to sensations we feel in the body.  Information comes into the body, and we listen to it and react.  Our tummy grumbles, to remind us we’re hungry.  We might have goose bumps in the face of danger.  We shiver when we’re cold.  Maybe we feel like there’s a pit in our stomach when nervous.  We sweat.  We shake.  And then subconsciously we analyze and respond.  It’s amazing how much our body can tell us about the world if we just listen.

This kind of listening can also be applied to pain.  Have you ever been in the presence of someone who just talks and talks and talks, but never listens?  The conversation that you can’t get a word into… You want to convey something yet there is so much talking.  Think about your feelings when this happens…If you absolutely have to communicate, is your voice louder?  Do you have to be more direct?  Is the other person often startled when you say, “Will you PLEASE let me speak????”  I like to think of pain as a similar kind of communication.  And I always tell my clients that if you don’t listen to the small messages from the nervous system then your body will make you listen! I mean your body will send you a message so strong that you have no choice but to listen. 

Now let’s talk about injury prevention.  What if we listen and respond to aches in our feet and tightness in our calves?  Would we ever experience plantar fasciitis?  What if we did something about the tightness in our hamstrings?  What if we tried to stop the nagging pull around our knees when we walk up stairs? What if we tried to make sure that we could put socks on while standing?  Would as many heels, backs, knees, and hips be injured?  I want to hypothesize, I think not!   

You might be thinking, “Now what?”  Listening to pain is not as innate or ingrained as understanding our body’s shivers.  “What do I do once I’ve heard the pain?”  Well it may seem too simple, but you move.  You move with care and awareness.  You stretch.  You strengthen. You find balance between stretch and strengthening. You learn how to do this!  You give your body experiences that allow for you to learn movement, and if the pain happens when you move, you seek help to find movement efficiency.  And hopefully after this article, you’ll seek help before the pain prevents you from doing the movement you have grown to love!  And if you’re in the Pioneer Valley, you seek help at The Pilates Studio.  We know how to move and we absolutely love teaching other people every thing we know! 

Katrina Hawley, C.M.A, PMA-CPT
Director of Instruction at The Pilates Studio

Friday, November 30, 2012

Sarah Reid writes about Pilates

Have you heard little snippets about our web classes?  Are you wondering how we came up with the idea?  Have you seen the chat room? Do you want to know who decorated it?  What about the Fitline Figurines?  Who could have inspired those?  All of these are examples of how the community at The Pilates Studio helps us develop our business!  They are examples of how our clients become dear friends…Examples of the way small businesses connect with the community around them!  Even when one of those friends move to Oakland to continue what is sure to be a brilliant interior design career!

There is Laurie teaching her class, and on the computer is Sarah coming to us from Oakland!
Sarah Reid moved away from us, but we get to see her every Wednesday and Friday when she comes to mat class through the Internet.  And now, Laurie and I are working hard to be able to offer Internet classes to lots of folks!  Laurie made the first Fitline Figurine to give to Sarah as a going away present!  And Sarah used her brilliant interior design skills while helping us pick paint for the studio and the furniture for the chat room!  And if that wasn’t enough she also wrote a wonderful blogpost about her pilates practice.  It made my day, and I instantly emailed her to see if I could share it with all of you!

So read below, and then click the link so that you can read all of it! And then read some more posts from Sarah,  I particularly like the one she wrote about her son’s eighteenth birthday!

How My Pilates Practice Is Also A Feminist Action

Okay! Now that I've ensured that exactly 3 people in the entire world will read this, let's get to telling them how my pilates practice is just one part of my overall feminism.
I hate to move. Honestly, if I could sleep all day I would. I admire and am greatly envious of cats. I have been known to not do laundry for weeks just because the washer is down a flight of stairs. Sometimes I will sleep in my bra because sitting up to take it off would be too hard. Also, the energy it takes to brush my teeth is noticable to me. Oh, and, I'm a feminist. Like, discovered that shit when I was 9 and clung to it like it was a life-raft in a sea of patriarchical blood-water filled with sexist water-demons (which is it) - we'll get to this later.

My whole life I've been tired, or at least I can't remember a time when I had a lot of physical energy to spend. Maybe my mother has another story for you. In any case, I spent my twenties trying to pretend I wasn't this way: joining gyms only to go once (mostly to impress a boyfriend), hiking way too many trails because my friends were psyched about them (and slowly dying inside), buying a bike that 12 years later still has the little rubber nubs that come with new tires. At some point I decided to stop pretending and get myself the right boyfriend, the right friends, and just embrace my laziness. READ MORE

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Gratitude and Pilates

I have settled into my week at home with my family for this my favorite holiday (mostly because it doesn’t involve presents).  It is about something much more important, saying thank you…I am not immune to the mixed history that is in the Thanksgivings of the past, but for the moment, I want to focus on what it has become.  A holiday on which you gather with friends and family to laugh, eat, and drink, and hopefully express gratitude for what you have.  So this week while I am away from The Pilates Studio, I thought I would express gratitude for some of the amazing things at The Pilates Studio.

First and foremost I am grateful for Laurie Johnson. Do you like the tea that she makes each and every day?  I certainly do.  What about her ability to have a sense of humor about everything?  This week we are dealing with some plumbing “stuff”, I shall say and in her texts to me she has already created our “Survivor” team that is going to get us to the next challenge…(not to mention that she has been dealing with all of this while taking care of her beautiful son and his not so beautiful head cold.)  Oh and not to mention I am grateful for her creativity…grateful and inspired and amazed…So I am grateful for Laurie Johnson.  Oh yeah and she makes these.  Can you believe it?

I am also grateful for the other teachers at the studio.

Jenni Sussman for being available for anything.  She can make her clients laugh, while giving them a good workout.  She is constantly sending Laurie and I into a fit of giggles with her well-timed commentary on our interactions.  Not to mention that she is also an artist.  It is always so lovely to see the details that emerge in her work.  Jenni is committed to learning and growing and this can only be good for The Pilates Studio.

Anneliese Mordhorst comes high on my gratitude list…Have you seen the pictures of the BYOBaby class.  I am grateful that Anneliese has created a space at the studio just for mommas and their babies.  Her caring and calm attitude can teach pilates no matter what the distraction.  She can also see any situation and find ideas to improve it.  Her constant eye makes her teaching succinct and beneficial to anybody that experiences it.

Kay Cowperthwait is also one of our fabulous teachers with a fabulous sense of humor.  (We laugh a lot at The Pilates Studio)  I never tire of hearing stories of her two beautiful kids, and can’t help but jump into the amazing conversations that she has with her clients…Her interest in fitness is broad and she brings so much to the table.  I am so grateful that I have Kay who coaches both hockey and golf.  I am constantly asking her questions…She is able to take Pilates and apply it to so many things!  YAY! Kay

Last but certainly not least is Suzanne Mente.  I look forward to every Wednesday when she comes in for her class and we get to chat…In ten minutes, I am always laughing (I’m sensing a theme) I love to hear her talk about horses and the way she works with young riders.   It’s a special person that can understand animals like Suzanne.    

My heart is so full already as I am speaking about the wonderful people that I get to work with…but what about the people that I get to work for.  To the clientele at The Pilates Studio:  Each and every one of your stories makes my life so rich.  I am so grateful to have all of you in my life.  The community at The Pilates Studio is a small microcosm of what life should be for everyone, we should all move, we should all tell stories, and above all else we should all laugh, and not just because laughter is the best abdominal work ever!  

In closing, I wanted to let you know that I looked back to last year’s Thanksgiving post (because I think Katrina’s Thanksgiving Blogpost might just become a tradition), and it was a piece about Pilates saving my body in the Wyoming wind. Well, I am not sure that everyone believes just how windy it is here, so I will leave you with proof that it really is quite windy in Wyoming.

See you all next week!
In gratitude
Katrina Hawley, C.M.A, PMA-CPT
Co-Director of The Pilates Studio


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Improving Posture with Pilates

When thinking back to childhood, who remembers the command “Sit up straight!”  It probably interrupted a fabulous daydream, and it might have even been bellowed from above where all of the grown ups seemed to exist. As an adult, I can look back and understand that the grownups of my childhood had good intentions. I understand the danger in the postures that I see created in children as their spines curl around the latest smartphone/ipod/ipad, but that doesn’t mean that I want to create the opposite effect.  Imagine a room full of kids sitting around the table, sticking their chests out, immobilizing their bodies into a “good posture”…I don’t know about you, but the word podpeople comes to my mind.  What if we replaced, “Sit up Straight!” with “Go roll around on the floor!” or “Do ten jumping jacks!’ or “tickle fest!”  The other night I was at a dance party, and had the opportunity to dance with my buddy Jack (he’s four).  He would start by holding my hands as we started spinning creating the centrifugal force of any space station, then he would let go with one hand continue the circle to the ground until I was spinning him around on his back.  He would continue spinning, somehow find the way to his feet, climb like a monkey up one side of my body, and wrap his spine around my neck. Then I would use my hands to guide his feet back to the floor, where he insisted on starting the entire process over again. Jack was playing, but little did he know he was also improving his posture through movement not stillness.

 In my practice, I see quite a few people that have trained themselves into this “straight” posture by throwing the ribcage forward and squeezing the shoulder blades together.  They show me this “good posture” and wonder why the base of their ribcage aches, or why they have limited range of motion at the shoulder joint, or why their arms have no muscle tone.  They talk to me about tension in the neck and shoulders and speak of stress related headaches.  Often they express frustration because they have worked so hard to improve their posture.   They are also often surprised when I start teaching them how to move their spine rather than how to hold it still….To create balanced posture, one shouldn’t try to create a straight spine, or a still spine, one wants to create a mobile spine.   We want spines that react to stimuli, spines that respond to stresses as opposed to spines that create stress.  We want a spine that connects our head to our tail.  We want a spine that bends forward, backwards and sideways.  We want a spine that rotates.  Yes good posture is important, but movement is magic.

So how does one improve posture with movement?  Where do you start?  The following video illustrates one way!  It uses the foam roller to begin adding movement to the spine.  As you watch it notice the sequential movement of the spine.  As you try it, imagine each vertebra moving individually.  Remember that your top vertebra is actually between your ears, and the base of your spine is your tailbone.  Find movement in each vertebra, and as always use your breath.  This is just an introduction so move slowly, and then take the time at the end to see if you feel different.

Have Fun!
Katrina Hawley C.M.A, PMA-CPT,
Co-director The Pilates Studio

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Osteoporosis friendly Pilates Workouts

In the last part of our osteoporosis series, I wanted to share some free resources that The Pilates Studio has for you! With so much information about Osteoporosis out there, you may have heard that Pilates is a great bone building workout, and you may also have heard that spine flexion (Bending forward) is contraindicated for osteoporosis of the spine.  AND If you've seen any of the classic Pilates Repertoire, you may also be wondering how it is possible that I could believe that Pilates is a good bone building option…It’s a conundrum.  Well, I'm here to tell you that the fabulous thing about Pilates is its malleability.  With the proper program design, Pilates can be the best way to stay fit, strong, and to prevent falls and fractures due to osteoporosis.  The following videos are some of the osteoporosis friendly workouts from The Pilates Studio’s Youtube Channel: 

This first video is a standing balance series that was taught to me by Sherri Betz.  Sherri is a physical therapist and Polestar Pilates Educator that has spent the last 20 years researching Pilates and Osteoporosis.  This series will improve your balance and keep your knees strong and stable.

The next video was posted in our blogpost about toning the arms, especially the triceps.  Luckily it's an integrated full body workout that will also build bone in the thoracic spine, and improve posture!

The posture work necessary in this next video is great for bone building in the spine.  It also allows us to practice a sitting posture that is beneficial to a long and strong spine.  Not to mention the fact that it builds functional strength in the arms and creates shoulder stability.

A strong and agile foot is essential for the prevention of falls that can lead to fracture.  Try this video, and enjoy the side effect of loose and supple feet!

The following video shows how core strength can be built without spine flexion, and it also provides many weight bearing opportunities for the wrists

Now there are more osteoporosis friendly workouts on The Pilates Studio's youtube channel.  We even made a playlist for you! Click here to see it!  If you did every video in the playlist, you would spend the next half an hour strengthening your bones!  Check them out, and learn as quickly as I did, that the side effect of a bone building workout is a well balanced and very strong individual!

Katrina Hawley, C.M.A, PMA-CPT
Co-director of The Pilates Studio

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Building Bone Mass: The Nutritional Component

Two weeks ago, I started a series on this blog about Osteoporosis.  We’ve discussed three components that need to be in an osteoporosis workout.  We’ve talked about research opportunities at The Pilates Studio.  This week taking full advantage of all of The Pilates Studio’s resources, I sat down with our very own in house Naturopath Dr. Allison Willette of Good Sense Health Care, and we made these videos:

Is dairy the best source of calcium?
This dairy industry certainly wants us to think so, but what about those that are lactose intolerant?  What about people who just don’t like milk?  What choices do they have?
Allison listed plenty:

Is calcium the only mineral you need?  Allison explains the complexity of the bones:

You often say to me that when giving nutrition advice that you contradict what some people say.  Full fat versus reduced fat?  Thanks to Dr. Willette I don’t buy the watered down skim milk anymore and in this video she tells you why:

What about calcium fortified drinks?
I’ve always wondered why we need calcium fortified when we could just be taking in calcium.  I asked Allison if I was missing something:

If someone came to you newly diagnosed with Osteoporosis what information would you need from him or her to help treat him or her?
Dr. Willette has a way about her to make everything seem okay.  I’ve sat in her office with so many questions and she listens and hears and solves problems with you.  Here’s what she had to say about osteoporosis:

What do we need our kids to do to prevent osteoporosis?
And finally if osteoporosis is so preventable, yet so prevalent what about our kids:

What do you want to ASK ALLISON?  Let us know and we’ll make it happen.  (Ask about vitamin D so I can hear Allison say Fishies again!)

Katrina Hawley
Co-Director of The Pilates Studio

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Bone Mass Research Opportunity at The Pilates Studio

It’s been a week and nearly everyone at The Pilates Studio has learned the standing balance series that Sherri Betz Physical Therapist and Polestar Pilates Educator taught me in her osteoporosis course.  Last week’s post reviewed three necessary components of a bone-building workout.  It’s been fun teaching with my mind’s eye towards bone health, and I’ve already seen some changes in people’s strength and proprioception.  This week I want to continue our look at osteoporosis by outlining an opportunity for The Pilates Studio!  As a community we could be a part of a research study that is gathering data for a Pilates Based workout and its effects on bone density.  We could as a community not only benefit from the research that has already been done, but we could also contribute to the health and wellness of others.

If you are interested in being a part of this study, please read the following:
1.     Participants must have their Bone Density taken on a DEXA machine within two months of the beginning of the program.
2.     Participants must communicate with their physician regarding desire to participate in this study.
3.     Participants must commit for one year to do a standardized home program along with pilates sessions.
4.     Participants must agree to keep any medications that they are taking consistent, and cannot be taking any bone density medication. 
5.     At the end of the year in this program participants will need to get bone density taken on the same DEXA machine.

Now if for some reason, you are not qualified for the study due to one of the criteria above, there is no reason why you can’t still participate in the program.  We may not be able to use your data as part of the study, but you could certainly learn the bone friendly home program, and focus on the bones in your pilates sessions!

Before the start of the program there will be some basics that need to be covered.  Don’t worry if anything below seems daunting.  It’s my job to understand these concepts and communicate them to you.  If you are a client at the Pilates Studio, you’ve covered these ideas many times over, and if you are new to us all of the following concepts are covered during our Introductory Package.

1.     Participants must have an understanding of neutral spine in all positions.  standing, supine, kneeling, lunge, quadruped and plank (both front and side)
2.     Participants must also understand Ron Fletcher’s centering cues.  (Ron Fletcher is a Pilates Elder, who can be credited with many of the posture cues that are prevalent in the Pilates repertoire.)
3.      Participants must be working through Sherri Betz lunge progression (Don’t you worry we’ve been working on this already and there's a video for practice below!)
4.     Participants must be aware of the role of the transverse abdominals in standing, kneeling, supine, and prone.
5.     Participants must be aware of the shoulder girdle and its role in axial elongation and core control (Fancy words for things you already know)
6.     Participants will practice the side lift exercise.
7.     Participants must understand thoracic extension and spine articulation (More big words for what you already know)

Now to get started, each participant will need to set up an initial appointment.  At this appointment we will start gathering data about your lifestyle and health history, and then lead you through some movement tests.  After this initial appointment your pilates sessions will begin focusing on the home program and the apparatus program.  Your progress will be charted for one year, at the end of which another DEXA test will need to be administered.  

Are you ready to get started????  Why don’t you get ahead of the game by trying this lunge series,  Thanks Sherri Betz again for showing such great information!

I said it last week too! What if we all emerge from the coming winter months stronger and more balanced than ever before?

Katrina Hawley, C.M.A, PMA-CPT
Co-Director of The Pilates Studio

Friday, October 12, 2012

Increasing Bone Mass with Pilates Exercises

I can’t tell you how many clients have come to me and said, “I have Osteoporosis, is Pilates weight-bearing exercise?”  Osteoporosis is a diagnosis that is often handed out at the Doctor’s office with a “Be careful! Your bones might break,” or a “You’re not getting any younger,” or “Here’s a prescription for Fosamax, or Boniva, or estrogen replacement,” or “You haven’t been drinking your milk!”  Sometimes the diagnosis is treated as hopeless, and simple directions like “do weight-bearing exercise,” can be as confusing as anything else.  Often, when people come into The Pilates Studio with news of osteoporosis, there is a little slump in the shoulders as if the inevitable has happened, old age is approaching…However, osteoporosis doesn’t have to be a slow and anxious wait to a hip fracture!  It is not the inevitable disease of the aged, and the best part of an exercise program geared towards bone growth is the side effects of increased strength and proprioception!  What are the side effects of Fosamax again?

This past weekend I had the opportunity to take a course with Polestar Pilates Educator Sherri Betz, PT, GCS.  Sherri is a Physical Therapist who has spent the past 20 years studying osteoporosis in both a research and clinical setting.   In her course we reviewed what movement leads to bone growth, and what movement might increase the risk for fracture.  We reviewed several research studies and discussed the role of nutrition and posture to bone growth! There is so much information that I want to share, but most importantly I want to celebrate the strength and power that can be gained along with the bone growth.  In this weekend, Sherri taught a class that was designed for older adults (85 and over).  We started the class sitting in chairs and progressed to standing, while using the back of the chair for some balance practice.  This was not an “easy” class.  I broke a sweat and the muscles in my hips were sore and stronger!!!!  As I was taking this class I thought to myself:  What if we lived in a world in which the wisdom of our elders was more apparent than their frailty? 

As you can see I’ve been inspired and plan to share as much of this information with you as I can.  In this post, I want to explore what components need to be in a bone building movement program, and over the next few weeks I hope to share even more information with you.  Let’s look at the following three components:

A bone-building workout must:
1.  Include weight-bearing exercise that increases osteoblastic activity (bone generation),
2.  Eliminate movement in certain planes of motion that increase the risk of vertebral fracture.
3.  Include movement that prevents fracture by preventing falls.  (Balance challenges)
The complexity within these three categories can be mind boggling and overwhelming, but it is my hope that with a little information over the next few weeks, osteoporosis won’t be such a scary word!  And that this blog will give the resources necessary to find the strength and power that comes with an increase in bone density!

First, what is weight-bearing exercise that increases osteoblastic activity?  
Here are some of the tidbits that Sherri shared in regard to weight-bearing exercise!

First, “exercises need to be site specific,” For instance if you have osteoporosis in the hip the movement that you choose must challenge the muscles in and around the hip socket, and if you have osteoporosis in the spine you must challenge the muscles that run along the back of the spine.

Secondly, the weight bearing exercise must be challenging, and should “include activities that impose bone loads substantially greater than those experienced during activities of daily living.” In other words, if you can do 20 reps without fatigue then the exercise is not challenging enough!

And finally, once strength has increased and a once challenging exercise becomes easier, it is imperative to progress the exercise so that the load on the bone is increased!  (Increase resistance or proprioceptive challenges, or change exercises)   

With the above information can you think of ways that your pilates exercise might have to change?

What movement needs to be eliminated? Sherri Betz made sure to emphasize that we are not trying to turn people into “a box on legs.”  When thinking of movement elimination, we want to keep as much mobility as possible without increasing the risk for fracture.  In osteoporosis of the spine, flexion of the spine and the combination of flexion with rotation (bending forward, and bending forward with rotation)  puts a load on the vertebral body that leads to compression fracture and increased kyphosis (increased curvature of the thoracic spine). Yet, there is a bright side!  Eliminating flexion and increasing the extension of the spine improves posture!  At The Pilates Studio, one client called the swan (spine extension exercise) her fountain of youth!    

Now think about your pilates workout?  What exercises need to be replaced?  What exercises might be added?  The elimination of thoracic flexion from your pilates workout will in no way decrease the amount of core strengthening available to you!  Believe me when I say The Hundred with the head down requires even more abdominal strength than The Hundred with the head lifted in thoracic flexion. 

The final component of this new Osteoporosis friendly empowering and strengthening workout is fracture prevention, by improving balance to prevent falls. 

The Pilates Studio is no stranger to balance practice.  Do you remember last spring’s balance challenge?  If a person has a diagnosis of Osteoporosis it is a clear assumption that improving balance will decrease the chance of a fall, which will then decrease the chance of fracture. 

How is your balance? Can you stand on one foot?  Sherri Betz showed us many ways to challenge the balance.  Here are a just three standing exercises to try:

For all of these exercises stand next to a wall in case you have to suddenly catch your balance.

1.     Stand with your feet together, and by together I mean the entire foot is hugging the midline!  Close your eyes and notice how your weight shifts from side.  Hold this for approximately one minute.

2.     Stand with one foot in front of the other.  Line your feet up heel to toe and keep your balance.  Start with your eyes open and if you need additional balance then close those eyes

3.     Repeat #2 with the other foot in front

How did it go?  Could you commit to doing these three exercises everyday?

There you have it, a small tidbit of information that was presented in a wonderfully full weekend.  I hope to share some more over the next three weeks with the following three posts:

1.     In next week’s post I want to outline a fabulous opportunity for the clients at the Pilates Studio.  It is now a possibility for clients at The Pilates Studio to be a part of a national study.  Over the next year we can gather data and increase the information out there about pilates and osteoporosis!  It will be a great way for individuals to increase bone density, and also an excellent way to contribute to the greater fight against frailty and old age!
2.     The week after that I will interview our very own Naturopath, Dr. Allison Willette.  As many of you know she has a plethora of knowledge about exacting nutrition.  And I might even include a bone building recipe or two.
3.     And the final osteoporosis post will outline a home program that will build bone health, and make everyone who commits to it strong!

What a fabulous fall it promises to be!  I can’t wait until the spring when we emerge from our New England winter ready to climb mountains!

Katrina Hawley C.M.A, PMA - CPT
Co-director of The Pilates Studio

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