Saturday, November 17, 2012

Break It Down: Knee Stretch Series

The Knee Stretch Series is brisk paced and great for clients of all abilities.  Your athletes and runners will gain strength quickly.  However, this can be a complex exercise to introduce, especially in our society where many people have back/knee/hip issues.  Take caution by ensuring quality of movement.

Purpose- strengthen knees, torso/shoulder stability, opens up hips

Preps- Coccyx Curl, Leg Pumps on chair, Cat/Cow, Stomach Massage

Form- Round/Flat/Arched back or Knees Off, shoulders stabilize, movement happens at the hip, brisk tempo once form is mastered 

*Avoid if you have had a knee replacement or have lack of leg strength to sustain position

Modify- Scooter (one leg version), just hold in place on the Knees Off version, place pad or yoga block under knees to add extra padding or if stiff, make the range of motion smaller, hands on the frame instead of bar

How to Advance- Knees Off variation, increase reps, increase tempo 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Shoulder Expressions

Tight shoulders need to be opened and allowed to "smile".  A workshop I attended at Teaser Pilates led by Jenna Anderson went more in depth on how to access the deep strength of the thoracic region and shoulders.  

Most Americans sit all day long and much of our daily lives are spent in a hunched position.  We are driving, on the computer, curled up on the coach, texting, studying, and grocery shopping.  This develops tight muscles in the chest and weak back muscles.  Pilates is a great tool to combat this kyphotic posture from occurring as we age.

Here is a helpful warm up to use with a stretchy band:

  • Hold the band shoulder width.  Let the arms circle from front to back behind the body.  Only go as far as the body allows.  Make the movement smooth and controlled.
  • Now go around the world with the band.  Lead with one arm overhead, band comes back behind the body, than open with the opposite arm to come back to the front of the body.  Reverse.
  • The band comes back in front of the chest.  Open the arms straight and wide to the sides as the band touches the chest.  Hold briefly than repeat.
  • Without the band do as many backward shoulder circles are you are old.  (25yr old does 25 circles backward daily)
Get creative with Pilates extension exercises.  Use a band for resistance for Pulling Straps on the mat, add in shoulder shrugs with the push through bar before Swans on a Cadillac, and do standing roll downs off a wall so clients can feel the collar bone staying open as they stack up.  Teach your clients to stand with confidence and a broad chest.  They will thank you!