Centerworks Blog

Latest "Functional Movement" Posts

Getting Ready for Gardening Season: The Importance of Deep Squat Exercises and Lunges in Your Pilates Training Program

squatAs I was writing my Top 5 Tips for Gardening without Back Pain article, I realized how important talking about squatting and lunging is for gardeners.  You can’t safely get up and down off the ground to dig in the dirt without being able to get up and down off the ground!  And in some form or fashion this will involve the hips, legs and back having both the strength and flexibility to do a full, deep squat and deep lunge.

Are you training your deep squat muscles and lunging muscles in the gardening off-season?  Or just expecting them to kick in and start working when you start doing the million-and-one deep squats and lunges you have to do when Spring arrives and it’s time to get out to the yard to start planting and pulling weeds?

Posted by Aliesa George in Pilates, Strength Training.

3 Benefits of Using a Foam Roller Warm-Up for Your Workouts

foam rollerOne of my favorite things to do to wake up my deep core muscles, improve balance, the brain-body connection and feel the independent movement of my hips and shoulders is to do a quick 5-15 minute foam roller warm-up before a workout.

Whether I’m going to do Pilates equipment work, Pilates Mat work, go out for a walk or run, lift weights, play racquetball…any activity… using a foam roller can be a quick and easy way to ensure you’ve got the right things turned on to support your body and train healthy movement habits.

Posted by Aliesa George in Exercise and Fitness, Functional Movement.

Toes and Leg Pain – Is It Connected?

Getting to the Root of the Problem for Better Whole-Body Health          

Leg PainHave you ever experienced pain somewhere in your body not from an accident or a hard work out, but over time a little ache here, a bigger pain there.  It’s nothing big enough to “worry” about or to make any changes in your lifestyle or exercise program, and then… one day, suddenly it seems you’re incapacitated and unable to keep up the facade that nothing is wrong.

It’s time  to face the fact that there really is something going on that you need to pay attention to, find a solution for and take action to change so you can get your good health back.

I received this question from Wendy about toes and leg pain and thought there might be other folks out there who would be interested in my response.

Posted by Aliesa George in Alleviating Pain & Chronic Health Problems, Foot Care & Foot Fitness, Functional Movement.

One Lung Breathing: Creating Balance for Better Breathing and Posture Habits to Look Good and Feel Great!

LungsMost of the time when we breathe the air goes in, the air comes out, and we’re not even conscious of how much of our lungs we are using or even which lung we tend to use more.

If you have scoliosis, asthma or other physical/health challenges that have contributed to limited lung and rib movement, or a muscle imbalance through the upper back, these conditions can create tension, stress and changes in your posture.  Becoming more conscious of your lungs and practicing one lung breathing can be a great exercise for you to improve posture and reduce stress, tension or pain.

But even if you DON’T have any health challenges, there’s a really great chance that you have one lung that is stronger, or more dominant than the other, and you might not even realize it!  While it might not be a big deal now… Over time, you may accumulate new aches and pains because other muscles in your torso (core, back and shoulders) respond to the breathing imbalance creating a domino effect that can leave you wondering why you now hurt even though you never had an “injury.”

Our posture and muscle habits for balanced body development will only get better if we take action and train the body.  Good breathing habits both stretch AND strengthen our system for better posture and better health.

Here are 3 Easy One Lung Breathing Exercises You Can Practice to Strengthen Your Lungs as You Improve Balance, Posture and Health

Posted by Aliesa George in Breathing.

Using Percussive Breathing Techniques To Reduce Neck and Back Pain

Learn How To Breathe Deeply & Easily for Better Posture and Better Health

drumThere are many different strategies for better breathing.  Good breathing habits can significantly reduce neck and back pain and improve body alignment and posture.

Percussive breathing is one of my favorite breathing techniques to expand the lungs, mobilize the ribs, and train healthy breathing habits.

In recent articles, I’ve shared tips and techniques to improve your Pilates-style healthy breathing habits, if you’ve been practicing good back-rib breathing for the last few weeks, hopefully you are starting to notice a positive change in your habits.

How often during the day do you think about your breath and tweak your technique?

The more often you practice better breathing habits the easier it is to re-train your body for better health.  Lasting changes will take time and practice, but pretty soon, it will start to come more naturally and you will find that you don’t have to consciously think so much about breathing to breathe better.  Stick with it to maximize your benefits and improve your health!

Today, I want to share a valuable breathing technique to strengthen your diaphragm and increase your lung capacity for deeper breathing to move more air in and out of your system.

Percussive breathing techniques can increase the expansion of the ribcage and the amount of air exchanged through the lungs. The deeper you breathe, the more oxygen you bring into your system.  The more the ribs separate on your inhalation, the more your upper back lengthens which naturally decompresses the spine and improves posture!

Posted by Aliesa George in Breathing.

Oh My Inner Thighs!

5 Reasons to Find, Feel and Use Your Inner Thigh Muscles for Healthy Movement Habits

StretchingI 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…

Posted by Aliesa George in Flexibility & Stretching, Functional Movement.

A Simple Exercise To Develop Better Breathing Habits with Exercise

Tips to Incorporate Pilates-Style Back Rib Breathing to Movement and Exercise

In the last breathing article I shared with you two breathing exercises to help start retraining healthy breathing habits to feel your breath go into the back of your ribcage to lengthen the spine and improve posture.

Hopefully, you’ve been practicing and it’s getting easier to feel your ribs moving as you inhale and exhale!  Today we are going to progress this concept and focus on better breathing habits when you move.

The simple Seated Hinge & Roll Up exercise is a great way to practice your Pilates-style, posterio-lateral, back-rib breathing technique while your body is moving through space.

The Seated Hinge & Roll Up Exercise

Posted by Aliesa George in Breathing.

Mobilizing the Ribs: Healthy Spine Movement in Many Directions

Centerworks® “Secret” Training Tips for Mobilizing the Ribcage
Part  Five: Multi-Directional Movement of the Spine

Chair, Teaser Twist

Here it is…the grand finale for our discussion on “secret” training tips to mobilize the ribcage for a healthy spine and get the upper back to move more easily.  When you get to more advanced exercises or sport and athletic endeavors the body must be able to move with ease in many directions at once!  From a basic Pilates exercise standpoint, this would be practicing exercises like the Saw in Matwork.  You are both twisting and bending the spine and ribcage have to both rotate and flex to do the exercise well. 

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

Two Simple Breathing Exercises: Improve Posture and Be Well

Pilates-Style Posterio-Lateral Breathing Exercises to Retrain Healthy Movement Habits for Better Whole-Body Health

In the previous breathing article we discussed how to determine if you were breathing into your chest, belly or back.  I suggested that if you’re natural breathing habit isn’t posterio-lateral Pilates-style back breathing, that you might want to consider learning how to access your back to breathe better and improve posture.  Breathing into your back gives you access to a strong supported middle and can reduce pain in your neck and shoulders.   Breathing properly is a valuable tool and one of the basic foundations for healthy movement habits, and improved overall health and wellness. 

Let’s Review the Benefits of Posterio-Lateral Pilates-Style Back Breathing:

Inhaling expands the lungs, separates the ribs, helping to lengthen and increase the natural curves of the spine.

Posted by Aliesa George in Breathing.

Exercises for Healthy Feet: Stretch Your Calves & Strengthen Your Arches

Articulating the Ankle:
Improving Mobility To Point & Flex Your Feet

Pretty Pink Ballet FeetAre 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.

Posted by Aliesa George in Flexibility & Stretching, Running, Walking.