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

For additional information feel free to follow these links!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Mommy, Me, and Pilates classes!

Congratulations, you have a new baby!  You just gave birth!  You have this little bundle of joy to love, nurture, and support.  You are quickly learning all of the things you couldn’t imagine about parenthood…Now here’s something that is often underestimated.  Childbirth is hard.  It’s been compared to running a marathon, and I’ve even heard a new mother who runs marathons say that childbirth is harder than a marathon!  Well, I am here to tell you that Pilates is the best way to help a new mom recover from childbirth, and that a Pilates Mat Class can provide the kind of gentle strengthening exercise that any new mom needs.

 And now here comes the conundrum!  What new mom has any time whatsoever to get to a Pilates class?  Really am I kidding myself?  Trying to advertise Pilates as a great recovery from childbirth could only be the ridiculous blunderings of a woman who has never had a child!  Don’t I know about the feedings, the pure exhaustion?  Don’t I know that when you include the cost of childcare, pilates becomes even more expensive than it already is? How can I possibly suggest that Pilates is possible for a new mother?   Well let me tell you about the BYOBaby class at The Pilates Studio!

Read the description of BYOBaby

A breast and bottle feeding friendly Pilates Mat Class that welcomes diaper changing interruptions.
babies that are a few weeks-6 months old are usually the most cooperative, but any age is welcome!

This is a class of moms or dads and their babies!  Everyone in the class understands that babies might cry!  Everybody in this class understands that babies need to be fed, and everybody in this class understands that sometimes babies pull hair.  This is a class with an environment that supports the moms and dads.  You can come workout, and no one will be wondering why you brought your baby with you!  For the noon hour every Thursday, The Pilates Studio is dedicated to new moms, dads, and babies!

We love seeing the babies grow!  We love seeing the strong parents!  We love creating an environment of wellness!  After all, seeing mom and dad exercise is certainly going to be one of the many observations the babies can take away from early childhood!  We learn by example from the youngest of ages!  The BYOBaby class is Thursdays at Noon! 

Anneliese Mordhorst is the fabulous instructor, and her warm demeanor creates an atmosphere that supports the parents and the babies!  And do you see the pictures and all of the cuteness?  They speak for themselves really!  Anybody at the Studio is available to talk to any new parent!  Any new parent you know needs to know about this class!