Posture Exercises for Standing

circle.JPG

I was a guest blogger at GetCorrectPosture! My clients often tell me that they have standing desks (because sitting is the new smoking) but standing with bad posture isn't that much better for you than sitting. Check out my tips and why I love the Power Circle so much at the link above.

And if you want more Power Circle, check out my abs and glutes video here.

P.S. credit to my son for the photo :)

Subscribe to the Blog via Email Updates

* indicates required

Top Five Differences Between Pilates and Yoga

So what is better? Yoga or Pilates? That is a difficult question to answer, and it does depend on your workout goals. Keep in mind, too, that there are many different types of yoga and even different styles of Pilates, so these are general guidelines.

The goal of yoga is spiritual enlightenment. That does not mean that Pilates cannot be a spiritual practice, and it does not mean that yoga is not a workout. It does mean that at the heart of a yoga practice is a spiritual component, and that usually involves mediation or other techniques to quiet your mind. I consider my Pilates practice a moving meditation, but I don’t spend time meditating as a component of my practice. I do meditate, but it is separate from my Pilates work.

The goal of all Pilates exercises is the strengthening of the Powerhouse. This is true no matter what style of Pilates you practice. The Powerhouse is a centering concept, but it is also a physical place. It is the two inch band that runs above and below your navel. Every exercise in Pilates is trying to connect you to this part of your body and tone and strengthen this area. This does not mean that yoga does not work your core or that Pilates does not work and tone other parts of your body. It means that Pilates exercises are always focused on this area, no matter what else is working.

Pilates was made for the modern body. Joseph Pilates created his system of exercises between 1912-1967, and moved to New York City in approximately 1933. That means he knew what concrete was, and cars, and buses and chairs. His work cannot help but be influenced by the wear and tear and stress these modern conveniences place on our bodies. The development of yoga is over 5,000 years old. It was not made for a mainly sedentary population. Most people 5,000 years ago walked everywhere, much more than we do now and sat on the floor. They got more movement preparing their food than some of us get in an entire day. That is a different body than Joseph designed his work around. This does not mean that yoga has never been updated or that Pilates does not tap into ancient wisdom. It means that Pilates was created for people who live in the modern world because it is a modern invention itself.

Pilates was not made for a yoga mat. Hey, even yoga wasn’t made for a yoga mat (see the 5,000 year old practice mentioned above). But Mr. Pilates made his own mats, and they are way thicker than your average yoga mat. They usually were a raised platform with much more cushioning for your spine. They had extra boxes at the sides to place your legs wider than a yoga mat. They had straps for your feet to help keep your feet stationary as you rolled and poles to help stabilize your shoulder girdle for inversions or open your chest for extensions. If you’re doing Pilates, you should at least double your mat to cushion your spine. Pilates has more spinal articulation and rolling (see the focus on the Powerhouse listed above) so if you’re doing Pilates at a health club, please find a thicker mat or hack one yourself to protect your spine.

Pilates has equipment. I’m not talking props like bands or bolsters. I’m talking about the Reformer, Cadillac, Barrels, Chairs…. Mr. Pilates saw the mat as the foundation to his work, but without the support and aid of the equipment, it’s really hard to progress in your Pilates practice. Equipment and mat really are meant to go together (see also Mat vs. Equipment Pilates). The Reformer and the mat are the cornerstones to the Pilates work, and Mr. Pilates always intended for his students to do both. The stretch, support, and resistance work on the Pilates equipment with the springs really has no equal in any exercise format. It combines open and closed chain work, tempo variations, and deep stretches you cannot find if you only have a mat alone.

What are your thoughts? Do you teach yoga and Pilates? How do you think they compare?

Subscribe to the Blog via Email Updates

* indicates required

Top Eight Tips for Working with Pilates and Osteoporosis (the Condensed Version)

So many of us are working with Goldeners (the Active Aging Population) that I thought it would be helpful to list a few of the Dos and Don’ts of working with Osteoporosis, especially as it concerns Pilates. (Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, and this list is not medical advice, nor should it be used as such), but I weeded through a few studies so that you don’t have too.

****The most important tip is first

  1. Don’t use spinal flexion. Yes, that is a lot of the Pilates repertoire, but flexion puts pressure on the anterior surface of the vertebral bodies, and that is usually the weakened part of the bone. Flexion increased the risk of fracture in 89% of osteoporosis cases in this study.

2. Do use spinal extension. The posterior vertebral bodies have a higher degree of cortical bone and are at less risk of fracture. A study found that stronger spinal extensors led to increased bone density and less occurrence of spinal fractures.

3. Don’t side bend. Pressure on the vertebra are also excessive during side bending.

4. Do teach a hip hinge instead of flexion. It is imperative osteoporosis clients know the difference between spine and hip flexion (see #1 above).

5. Don’t twist. Again, excessive pressure on the vertebra.

6. Do teach isometric work. This is one of the best ways to get strong (and by now, you may be asking, “What can I do with a client with osteoporosis?”). Most of the isometric work can be found in the Pilates Fundamentals and are great for teaching control and strength in the core so clients don’t accidentally do little tiny twists or other contraindicated movement when moving their legs to the front or side.

7. Don’t work with a client if they can’t tell you their T-Score. Clients who have taken a Bone Mineral Density Test should be able to tell you their T-Score. A Standard Deviation of -1 to -2.5 indicates osteopenia, and -2.5 or more indicates osteoporosis. Why is this important to know? For every one point below the mean, fracture risk doubles.

8. Do teach these clients to stand and balance. They need to be weight bearing if possible. Standing weights, standing power circle, standing leg swings, and single balance work on one leg is very important. If these clients fall, they are likely to fracture, so they need to be taught how to stand tall.

Working with someone with osteoporosis can be a bit scary (and when in doubt, refer out), but it can be safely done with a knowledgeable Pilates instructor. The extension work, chest openers, standing series and the ease of adding weights to our work makes it a natural fit for the osteoporosis client. Remember, it is a silent disease, so your clients won’t have symptoms, but don’t let that stop you from following safety guidelines. Some clients like flexion because it feels good, but you need to be firm in your knowledge and confidence to tell them why that movement needs to be avoided.

Leave any additional questions in the comments below. I’ve been working with clients with osteoporosis for years and would love to help. Its a population that needs Pilates!

Subscribe to the Blog via Email Updates

* indicates required