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Excessive eating is claimed to be the main cause for additional weight gain over christmas, but it is also due to lack of physical activity and exercise. Pilates is the type of exercise that can be done anytime, anywhere. It helps build flexibility and muscle strength, improve mobility and core, and improve posture and balance. It doesn’t require equipment making the difficult task of staying active over Christmas that bit easier. This in combination with light cardio exercise such as walking can help maintain fitness and strength over the holiday period.
Below is a quick 20 minute pilates workout targeting the main core stability muscle groups. However, it is only advisable to do these exercises if you are familiar with the pilates method and injury free!
1. Scissors: This exercise primarily strengthens and isolates deep abdominals. Find your neutral spine position and activate your deep abdominals (imagine drawing your pubic bone towards your bellybutton). Keeping your back in neutral, breath in and as you breath out bring one leg up to table top (knee over hip, knee at 90 degrees). Lower your leg as you breath out and repeat alternate sides. To progress, take one leg up to table top, followed by the other leg. As you breath out, lower one leg to tap your big toe off the floor and take your leg back up to tabletop. Repeat alternate sides. Ensure that you keep your back in neutral and your pelvis perfectly still as you perform the leg movements.
2: Bridging: This exercise works on improving intersegmental control and spinal mobility. Start lying on your back, feet and knees hip distance apart, back in neutral. Breath in and as you breath out, flatten your back into the floor and slowly peel your back off the floor, starting at your tailbone, to your mid back. Avoid lifting too high and loading your neck. Slowly lower your back down, segment by segment, so that your tailbone is the last part of your spine to rest on the floor. Maintain a stable pelvis as you do so.
3. Clams: This exercise focuses primarily on strengthening your gluts that provide pelvic stability when walking/running. Lie on your side, with your knees bent, feet together and hips stacked one on top of the other. Keep your spine in neutral and activate your deep abdominals. Lift your top leg away from your bottom leg as you breath out, being careful not to allow your pelvis to move as you do so. Slowly lower your leg back down and repeat. You should feel your gluts fatigue as you repeat the exercise.
4. Ab Prep: This exercise works on lower back control and activates core and superficial abdominal muscles such as rectus abdominus. This is a more controlled and safer alternative to a full sit up. Start lying on your back, knees bent, back in neutral. Place your hands behind your ears, keeping your elbows wide. Maintain a long neck position by imagining you are holding a peach between your chin and chest. As you breath out, slowly lift your head and shoulder blades off the floor, to bring your lower rib cage towards your pelvis. As you breath in slowly lower back to the start position, keeping your chin tucked.
5. Roll downs: this exercise helps improved intersegmental control and mobility through your whole spine. Start in standing, feet hip distance apart, knees slightly flexed and your weight spread evenly from your heel to your toes. Let your head go heavy and drop your chin to your chest, let your shoulders roll forwards and slowly curl your back down, segment by segment. Imagine you are peeling your back off a Velcro wall. At the bottom of the movement breath in and as you breath out, slowly stack your spine back up, segment by segment until you have returned to start position.
Repeat x 5
Here at Ballsbridge Physiotherapy Clinic we run a number of pilates classes varying from beginner to advanced level, run by experienced, pilates trained physiotherapists. Contact us here if you are interested and would like more information.