Sunday, October 24, 2010

Break It Down: Footwork

Let's begin with Footwork.  A common warm up for any Pilates session includes this exercise.  It is mainly done on the Reformer but can also be performed on the Chair, Trapeze table or standing at a ballet bar.  This staple exercise gets the blood flowing and uses reflexology points on the feet to stimulate the internal organs (I've even found it my go-to exercise for PMS symptoms).  Footwork prepares the body for the intensity of the workout ahead.  Let's break down this important exercise:

Purpose- maintain the pelvis/upper torso in a neutral position while getting full extension in the hip/knee/ankle while the core resists the springs (think standing squats)

Preps- Pregnant Cat (scooping on different planes), Building Blocks (finding good seated/standing posture)

Form: keep in alignment while pressing on the foot bar to extend in the hip joint, coordinate the movement with one single breath, sets of 8-12 (Heels, Arches, Birdfeet, Pilates V, Wide Heels, Tendon

Modifications- lighten weight if tucking in pelvis occurs, changing the foot bar position to release the spine or get more knee/hip extension, ball in between knees for better stability/alignment in legs

How to Advance- Single Leg Pumps, Side Leg work, hold Circle in hands to add in full body work, Running, Standing on half/full Foam Roll

Challenges- Heel lifts/Marching (alternate legs in shelf with heels on bar), Fancy Footwork (bicycle with one leg, single straight leg taps to bar on extensions, ect), Jump Board

Monday, October 18, 2010

Silver Pilates

Recently I did some Yoga Stretch training through a program called Silver Sneakers® put on at my local YMCA.  The program is meant to benefit active older adults by increasing flexibility, balance and range of motion.  The hour class is preformed standing or seated in a chair while using a small hand ball for stability work.  Just as with traditional yoga, the class starts and finishes with restorative breathing exercises to improve mental clarity and reduce stress.  These classes help to ensure proper modifications in a low impact setting while moving the whole body.
This training inspired me to take Pilates to a seated/standing platform for those who are unable to lie down for extended periods of time.  Other clients such as those with Parkinson's disease would also benefit from the ease of this program.  Below are examples of Pilates exercises that can be done at home or in a studio setting for older adults:

  • Thread the Needle (standing behind a chair instead of in a kneeling position on floor)
  • Seated Leg Circles (hugging behind the knee arms move leg)
  • Seated/Standing Twist (ball in both hands or only one, add in neck rotation for more advanced clients)
  • Seated/Standing Side Bend (ball in both hands or only one)
  • Standing One Leg Balance (ball in between thighs, squat than shift weight to one side to stand up) 
  • Standing/Seated Arm Circles (pass ball in hands, go around behind back for more advanced)
  • Hip Stretch (seated in chair cross ankle over knee and lean slightly forward)
  • Neck Stretch (ear to shoulder, press down with same side hand for added length in collarbone)
These exercises will make a nice half hour warm up or cool down to add to any traditional Pilates routine.