Curious to know what might help you improve your health quicker, focusing on strength vs flexibility?
Which is better for health improvement, strength vs flexibility? Have you ever wondered which part of your fitness program you should really be focusing most of your time on? It’s an interesting question, and while I might spark some controversy with my comments on this topic, I truly believe it’s relevant to helping you make the most of your workouts and can make a huge difference to help you reach your wellness goals. But before I share my thoughts with you, I have a question… Which of these two aspects of fitness do you PREFER to focus on – Strength or Flexibility?
Continue Reading ‘Strength vs Flexibility: Which is Better for Health Improvement?
Does your flexibility and age match? You are only as old as you feel… I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “age is just a number.” Joseph Pilates brings some meaning to this adage. The number of years we’ve been on this planet is not what makes us young or old, but it’s the fitness, flexibility and strength of our bodies that determine our youth and vitality (or lack thereof.)
So how old do YOU feel? How fit and flexible is your spine? How easily and naturally can you bend your body forwards, backwards, sideways, and twist? How often do you ask your body to move and bend in all directions?
If you’re feeling stiff and old, it’s never too late to start moving to improving your health and enhance your vitality. Keep your spine, hips, and shoulders moving freely so that as you age 60 can be the new 40, and let’s strive to make 90 the new 60!
Promote on the blog: The Pilates Spine Corrector aka Pilates Arc Barrel is a fabulous training tool for at-home workouts to stretch and strengthen your spine and improve the health of your hips, shoulders, and whole-body. Don’t have a Pilates Arc Barrel yet? Get your Arc Barrel now along with the book A Barrel of Fun! And you’ll have everything you need to improve your fitness for a flexible spine.
The article is an interesting read with some pretty strong opinions on why we should STOP using a foam roller to “stretch” or “loosen” tight IT bands.
I have to admit that I am one who occasionally will use a foam roller massage on my IT bands, as well as the rest of my body. I don’t do it all the time, but do enjoy the sense of release/relief I feel when I’m finished. Sometimes it’s a little painful, and sometimes I don’t feel much of anything at all. I don’t know that I’ve ever thought about rolling on my IT bands as a stretching exercises, as much as a way to release tight muscles and fascia along the sides of my thighs. But I don’t ever just roll the sides of my legs, I use the foam roller for my whole body – back, quads, hamstrings, outer thighs, calves… I believe it’s important to work and stretch everything for a healthy system, and sometimes a little foam roller massage feels great after a long, hard workout.
Continue Reading ‘Is Using a Foam Roller on Your IT Bands Helping or Hurting You?
5 Reasons to Find, Feel and Use Your Inner Thigh Muscles for Healthy Movement Habits
I picked this title as a topic months ago, and then just a couple of weeks ago offered a “Stretch Class” in the studio that I haven’t taught for about 10 years! It’s been interesting to see and hear my client’s reactions to the parts of their bodies they found and felt in a different way after an hour of active stretching vs. the full range of motion work and release that “stretches” the body during a Pilates workout.
Our bodies were made to move. It’s move it or lose it!
So, the question is – how much are you moving, and how well are your muscles working to keep you healthy?
Every muscle in our body needs to have an adequate amount of both strength and flexibility to function well. When we think about targeting the thighs most of the attention gets placed on the Quads (along the front of the thigh), and the Hamstrings (along the back of the thigh) since these two muscles groups are needed to bend and straighten the knees, help us stand up and sit down, climb stairs, etc…
Articulating the Ankle:
Improving Mobility To Point & Flex Your Feet
Are you searching for the right exercises for healthy feet? Are your calf muscles tight? Do you ever have heel pain? Do you hop around with toe cramps? or arch cramps? Are you plagued with Plantar Fasciitis problems? Are you still searching for foot care solutions that work well for your tired, achy feet?
Healthy Feet and ankles are not just for ballerinas!
Whether you walk, run, dance or just sit behind a desk all day, how much we use, or misuse, our feet can contribute to challenging foot problems and more. Of course if you’re dealing with an acute injury consultation with your doctor or podiatrist should be your first stop. But if you’re trying to find the strategies and solutions that can help get you back to health and keep you poor feet out of trouble, it may be time to pay a little more attention to your ankles, arches and toes on a very regular basis.
Continue Reading ‘Exercises for Healthy Feet: Stretch Your Calves & Strengthen Your Arches
How Are You Working: Legs turned Toe-Out, Parallel, or Pigeon?
This article is Part 2 in a 3-part series on Healthy Feet: Heel Mobility for Better Balance & Body Control
Little, seemingly insignificant posture habits can set you up for problems, pain and injury. And what is interesting is the fact that your heels and ankles might not be the weak link that is setting you up for a potential problem. What do I mean by this?
Part of paying attention to leg alignment is knowing what is happening at the feet. A toe-in, parallel or toe-out stance or gait pattern can dramatically change how the feet and ankles work and affect the stress placed on your knees and lower back. As a result of your everyday foot fitness habits, the muscles that are strong or weak in your feet and lower legs can be your own unique posture challenge.
But half of what you need to pay attention to might be the direction of the feet and the other half is what’s happening at the hip.
Continue Reading ‘How your Toes and Leg Alignment Affects the Feet for Healthy Heels
Use the Standing Agitator Exercise to Free Up Your Feet, Ankles and Heels
Heels and ankles need to be limber and move freely so that they can help us balance on uneven surfaces. Check to see if you have strong, flexible heels and ankles with this quick and easy ankle mobility exercise.
Test your balance by standing on one foot. Do you have a little “play” in your foot and ankle to keep you on balance, or is your ankle stuck/frozen? With good movement through the heel and practicing that agitator exercise in the long run it’s going to help with better balance and healthy mobility for your feet.
The Agitator Exercise
After doing the Agitator Exercise are you more aware of the movement at your ankles and heels? When you started, did you feel “stuck?” If it is hard for you to tell, get with a friend and have them stand behind you while you are “agitating” or twisting, to watch your ankles and heels for movement. Ideally, you want to see (and feel) your feet shifting from the inside of one foot to the outside of the other, and switching sides as you change directions.
For more exercises and tools to improve both ankle strength, and ankle mobility, use a Super Ankles Foot-Fit Board. This is one of the best foot care products available to help keep ensure injury-free ankles.
If you run, walk or play sports this helpful foot care product can help you with ankle strengthening exercises to avoid ankle sprains. If you are recovering from an ankle injury, the Super Ankles Foot Fit Board can be utilized for ankle sprain rehabilitation exercises. (Check with your doctor to be sure you’ve healed and it’s appropriate to begin an ankle rehab program.)
The Super Ankles Foot-Fit Board Bundle comes with an exercise booklet, the Super Ankle Exercise Board, and a How-To DVD with an 8-minute Super Ankle Board Workout.
How tight are the fronts of your thighs, and how effective are your Quad Stretch exercises to help loosen things up and open the hips? Are you taking time to work on your flexibility to help improve your muscle balance?
Continue Reading ‘Do a Daily Quad Stretch To Open Your Hips
“True flexibility can be achieved only when all muscles are uniformly developed.”
Joseph H. Pilates
As I was chatting with a gal in my triathlon training program today, she began asking me questions about Pilates, and the difference between Pilates and Yoga. As a triathlete, she made the comment that she runs, bikes, swims, and does some weight training, but had never really worked much on her flexibility, and is now realizing that she needs to do something to improve it. She wondered which would be better to do for improving flexibility – Yoga or Pilates?
Continue Reading ‘Pilates Mat Workout to Improve Flexibility
Pilates is whole-body-commitment to improve whole-body health for Every Body!
A Pilates workout program is one of the best ways to improve your whole-body health and in a very unique way it can help you get in touch with your body, mind, and spirit. As a mind-body wellness program, Pilates is focused fitness training.
Developed by Joseph H. Pilates in the early 1920’s, it has been used for general fitness, rehabilitation, and to help increase athletic performance. Regardless of your age, or current health and fitness level there is an appropriate place for you to start practicing Pilates.
The Pilates system can enhance many different aspects of a healthy lifestyle, and it’s never too late to improve posture, gain strength, flexibility, and improve your whole-body health!
There are Many Great Benefits to Discover with Pilates:
Better Mental Focus and Improved Concentration
Enhanced Body Awareness and Body Control
Improved Muscle Strength
Increased Muscle Flexibility and Joint
Range of Motion and more…
The Pilates Method is a system of learning how to develop healthy movement habits. If bones of our skeleton are in the right alignment, our muscles can move efficiently to perform any task required. But for most people there is a tendency to have developed dominant and weaker muscles, sometimes this is due to an injury or accident, other times it’s because our work, sport, or daily activities have us doing more with some muscles and less with others. Over time, these imbalances can lead to pain and injury! And long-term might result in chronic poor health. But a good Pilates program can help increase your awareness and help you discover how to make positive changes to improve your health!
Over time, these great benefits and new health and movement habits begin to transfer into other areas of your life! The results are that everything you do can be accomplished with less effort giving you more energy to enjoy life!
There are 2 Main Aspects to an Effective Pilates Training Program:
Pilates Matwork – a series of floor work exercises that require no special equipment.The Matwork exercises can actually be harder to begin with, because you don’t have any assistance to support the body while you’re finding the right muscles to do the work! Because of this, many Pilates teachers will “modify” exercises for beginners until you build the strength and body awareness needed to do things right.
Pilates Equipment Training – specialized equipment developed by Joseph H. Pilates for his exercise system. (The Reformer, Trapeze Table, Wunda Chair, High Chair, Spine Corrector, Ladder Barrel, Small Barrels, Ped-o-Pull, Foot Corrector and other equipment.)Pilates Equipment Training can be done one-on-one, or in a small group class. Individual training is the best place to start if you’ve had any injuries or health conditions that might require special care to help get your exercise program off to a safe start, and it’s always great to know exactly what you need to do just for you to improve your health! The Pilates equipment helps put the body in a low to non-weight bearing position, so there is less stress on your joints and more support to help you develop great strength, flexibility, and whole-body health.
Pilates is a low repetition system. Generally 3-5 repetitions, up to 10 are performed. More is NOT better. Any exercise Done WELL for fewer repetitions means your muscles will remember how to do things right! With each workout, the goal is to strive to execute each exercise and movement better than you did the time before – so you’re always paying attention and working diligently to improve your health.
There are Over 500 Exercises in the Pilates System
So there is always more to learn, discover, and do to challenge and improve your health! And while it is ideal to utilize the whole system, both Matwork and Equipment, for maximum benefits, not every exercise is appropriate for every body, so it’s best to start learning with a well-qualified Pilates teacher who can help develop a program specific to your needs and goals, and to help be sure that you’re doing each exercise correctly to get maximum benefits from your workouts!