Centerworks Blog

Latest "Functional Movement" Posts

Is Using a Foam Roller on Your IT Bands Helping or Hurting You?

rollerA fellow Pilates Teacher forwarded me an article from Greg Lehman, BKin, MSc, DC, MScPT entitled The mechanical case against foam rolling your IT Band. It can not lengthen and it is NOT tight.  She wanted to know what I thought about the article…

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. 

Posted by Aliesa George in Exercise and Fitness, Flexibility & Stretching, Links to Interesting Articles.

Pilates Quote – Physical Fitness for Life

Why is physical fitness important to you? What’s the point of exercise? Are you thinking it’s just “to lose weight” or “to get a toned, hot body?” Well, those are great side-effects to exercise, but the real reason we should be toiling away in the gym or sweating it out at the Pilates Studio is to keep our bodies strong and flexible enough to do our everyday life activities with ease.

If you have ever been injured and found it impossible to walk, roll over in bed, or get up and down off the toilet then you realize and appreciate the importance of maintaining your good health. Taking the time to improve your physical fitness to be fit and healthy is not just to look good, but to feel good, mind, body, and soul – to have the ability to enjoy your work AND free-time as Joe would say, “with spontaneous zest and pleasure!”

Posted by Aliesa George in Exercise and Fitness, Quotes.

Low Back Pain: The Sexy Cat Exercise for Healthy Hips and a Happy Back

catHave you ever experienced hip pain or low back pain?  Most people at some point in their lives have dealt with one or both of these debilitating problems.  Our sedentary lifestyle and poor movement habits have led to grippy overworked hip flexors, weak abs, and generally speaking imbalances with the strength and flexibility of the lumbo-pelvic complex (our hips, legs, pelvis, and low back.)

Posted by Aliesa George in Back Pain, Exercise and Fitness, Pilates Exercises, Techniques & Teaching Tips.

Pilates Quote – Breathing, a Healthy Life Depends on It

Breathing, it’s one of the most important things I teach new Pilates students.  And while it’s a good thing that we don’t have to think about every breath we take to stay alive…  Improving HOW we breathe can make a huge difference for health improvement.  We cannot function in top form physically, or mentally, if we don’t have enough oxygen filling our lungs and nourishing our bodies.  Learn and practice Pilates-style, posterior-lateral breathing techniques, your posture will improve, your health will improve, and your life depends on it.  Take a deep breath now, and check out how you can Practice Better Breathing Habits.


Posted by Aliesa George in Breathing, Quotes.

Breathing and Squat Exercises: Pilates Footwork vs. Squat Exercises in the Weight Room

liftingDo you ever pay attention to if you’re inhaling or exhaling to get up and down?  Chances are you’ve probably never really thought about your breath during these simple daily life activities, but the patterns for breathing and exercise that we use, should be helping to reinforce healthy movement habits.

Squat exercises aren’t something we only do in the weight room.  There are lots of activities that require a squat motion – can you think of exercises, activities, sports, or things you do during your daily life multiple times a day that involve squatting? And then answer this…  Do you breathe in our out as you bend your knees for a squat?  Which is best for your body?  Does it matter?

For me weight room Squat exercise breathing, and Pilates footwork breathing are completely opposite!  And there’s a very good reason why. 

Posted by Aliesa George in Functional Movement.

Pilates Arm and Shoulder Exercises to Progress to Hanging with Ease

Improve upper body strength and conditioning with your Pilates Workouts

Female climber clinging to the edge.Are you eager to incorporate hanging exercises into your workouts?  Have Hanging Leg Lifts and Chin-Ups been on your wish list of exercises you’d like to be strong enough to do?  Or maybe rock climbing is in your future…

Baby steps may need to be taken in your Pilates training program to progress to full hanging exercises…  So here are a few recommendations from a gal who personally took on the challenge and has helped her clients successfully add a little bit of hanging to their weekly workouts.

Why Add Hanging Exercises To Your Workouts? 

Aside from the forearm and grip strength gained from hanging, there are a lot of very tight back, shoulder and chest muscles that get a chance to let go in a hanging position.  And even more importantly, I’ve discovered that hanging can be an excellent fascia release exercise!  There are so many great benefits to be had from one position – dangling from our grippy little fingers.

Developing the strength for Pull-Ups and Leg Lifts is another topic entirely!  To get started the first step is to work up to being able to just hang.

Prepare, Plan and Progress Slowly…

Chances are, hanging exercises are not in your current workout program. If you have a healthy body, I’d like to encourage you to consider working your way up to the challenge!  Plan to progress slowly, it might take you 3-4 months of dedicated prep work, or even 6 months to a year before you are ready to challenge yourself to un-assisted full hanging exercises.

There are so many great Pilates exercises that can help you get ready to hang.  Here are my top five to get your arms and shoulders prepped and ready to add full hanging exercises to your workouts.

Posted by Aliesa George in Pilates, Strength Training.

What Are You Looking At? The Importance of Eye Focus and Pilates Exercise

Using Eye Focus and Pilates Exercise to Improve Form & Function for Healthy Movement Habits

bI know I’ve written about this topic in the past, but recently have been cueing my clients and drawing their attention to where they’re looking during different exercises.  It doesn’t matter WHAT the exercise is, where the eyes focus can have an effect on how well you will be able to find and use the right muscles for the movement.

The eyes can help or hinder movement initiation, stabilization, and articulation of the spine.

  • Look up – and the neck extensor muscles kick in.
  • Look down – and the neck flexors start working.
  • Look straight ahead – and the front and back of the neck should be doing just enough work to balance and hold the neck position.

For good posture our head needs to be perched right up on top of the neck.  In Pilates we do exercises standing up, lying down, kneeling, face up, face down, and upside down.  So what happens to the head when we change where the eyes are looking?  Well, quite a lot actually.  Our eyes help us orient the body in space.  Regardless of what position the rest of the body is in, the eyes strive to find the horizon line, since this is the perspective we use to orient the body in space.   Let’s look at a few Pilates exercises to see how they’re affected by where you’re eyes are focused.

Posted by Aliesa George in Functional Movement, Pilates, Pilates Exercises, Techniques & Teaching Tips.

Tips To Use Foam Roller Exercises To Improve Your Health and Fitness

foam rollerGet a Stronger Core, Improve Body Awareness and Enjoy Better Support for a Healthy Back and Better Body Mechanics with the Foam Roller Fitness 1 Knee to Chest Core Challenge Exercise

Foam roller exercises are excellent opportunities to improve body awareness and activate the deep muscles throughout the core (Abdominals and Back) that provide stability and support for good posture and healthy movement.

The foam roller is a fun and useful fitness tool that can be used as a warm-up, workout and cool-down!  It’s easy to adjust the challenge by making small adjustments to your alignment and technique so you can work at a pace that’s appropriate for you.  This how-to exercise video is an excerpt from the Foam Roller Fitness Core Challenge Workout Virtual Training Program.

Posted by Aliesa George in Exercise and Fitness, Videos.

Are You Ready To Start Incorporating Hanging Exercises and Handstands Into Your Pilates Workouts?

playground kidPracticing hanging exercises and handstands can be a valuable part of your Pilates (and Fitness) workouts.  We typically spend a lot of time developing strength for the arms and shoulders.  Are we really making progress with this goal? We may have nicely toned arms, but do we have good functional movement and an upper body we can depend on for a healthy, active life? 

·        If you were being chased by a bear in the woods, do you think you have enough upper body strength to climb up a tree? 

·        Do you have the hand and grip strength to hold on to a tree branch and dangle in mid-air? 

I realize that for most of us we’ve got a pretty low probability of running into a bear in the woods, but does that mean we should skip out on the important training benefits of hanging?  And for the arm and shoulder strength that hanging exercises develop right-side up, handstands help develop upside down.

Posted by Aliesa George in Exercise and Fitness, Pilates.

Twisting Exercise Tips – Improve Core Rotation for Strong Abs and A Healthy Back

 Rotisserie Pulse:  A Core Training Exercise from Pulse Power™ The Daily Dozen – 10 Minute Workout

twist picThis is one of my favorite twisting exercises to strengthen the oblique abdominal muscles and improve body awareness for efficient, sequential rotation of the spine.  A lot of the times I see clients initiate rotation for Abdominal exercises by pulling with the head, arms and shoulders.  BUT, the arms have nothing to do with getting stronger Abs!  Yes, perhaps if you do enough repetitions, eventually you’ll start to feel that your Abdominals work too, but they’ll work better if they initiate the movement.  Watch this video demo for twisting exercise tips to improve your core support.

Posted by Aliesa George in Exercise and Fitness, Videos.