Saturday, March 23, 2013

Self Myofascial Release 101

You brush your teeth and comb your hair.  Why not do the same for your muscles?  Foam rolling is a concept you may of heard before.  For about $30 you can purchase one and improve your performance.  Self myofascial release is for everybody, not just athletes.  It is also great to do in between massages.  

What is fascia?  The soft connective tissue that provides support and protection for the body, mostly muscles.  This can be effected by injury, stress, environment, nutrition, and dehydration.  It helps your kinetic chain work properly.  

  • Improve flexibility by correcting muscle imbalances
  • Reduce injury by improving joint range of motion
  • Increase performance/movement
  • Improve blood flow in body
  • Recover quicker and be less sore after workouts
  • Maintain better function with less joint stress
How do I roll? When rolling the slower the better.  Make sure to breathe deeply and keep good posture.  Do not roll over a joint.  If you find a knot or "speed bump" hold at that spot for 30 seconds-1 minute.  Use cross friction, ankle circles or mashing techniques to get deeper into the tissue.  Rolling one part of the body connects to another so choose wisely where you roll.  

Use this as part of your warm up or cool down when doing traditional workouts.  It is also a great recovery tool for athletes or racers.  Sessions can range from 15 minutes to an hour depending on what you are trying to accomplish.  Foam rollers can also be used for balance or core exercises.

Who should not foam roll?  People with osteoporosis (can break bones if too intense), varicose veins, pregnant or on certain medications.  Avoid areas where there is a sharp pain.  Be careful with clients whom have diabetes (can have a loss of sensations) or high blood pressure (important that they breathe properly).

Types of Foam Roll/Massage Tools:

Monday, March 18, 2013

Break It Down: Roll Back

Struggle with the Roll Up?  Use the Cadillac to strengthen your abs and improve spinal articulation.  The Roll Back is a great introductory exercise.  It also makes for an ideal warm up for clients with sciatic issues or tight low backs.  

Purpose- stretch the back, massage the spine, strengthen the low abs

Preps- Bridge, Pre-Roll Up, Short Box Round (Reformer and High Barrel), Curl Up, Chin Nods, Standing Roll Down off wall

Form- Press gently into the bar, peel your spine down/up the mat bringing the bar with you, arms stay long, feet flexed

*May not be appropriate for those with back issues where spinal flexion is a challenge such as disc injuries or osteoporosis.

Modifications- only roll part way up/down, change hand positions on bar, reduce range, change where springs are attached on Cadillac to assist more, roll over an arc barrel

How to Advance- different variation such as adding in rows at the bottom when flat, single arm version peeling down equally 

Challenges- add in arching up/down as you roll, add in side stretch at bottom

Monday, March 11, 2013

Exploring the Chair

 The Pilates Chair was created for at home practice and a smaller equipment footprint.  It is a simple model of a box with springs for resistance (2-4) and sometimes handles for assistance.  The original ones functioned as a piece of workout equipment and chair for furniture for New York clients.  They are typically made from wood with a padded seat and pedal (sometimes a split pedal).

The Chair is the most advanced piece of equipment.  Exercises are done seated such as Footwork, standing on the ground such as Standing Single Leg Pumps, on the seat as in Mountain Climbers, lying down such as Jackknife and pressing only the pedal like in Washerwoman.  There is a great amount of stability and strength involved when adding this piece into your workout.  Its a great piece for athletes or to rehab knee injuries.  Workouts include single arm or leg moves that create better symmetry.  There is less support which adds an extra challenge.  Maintaining proper posture is essential. 

Types of chairs:
  • High Chair (great for beginners or for more support like during pregnancy)
  • Wunda Chair (works wonders and is the original)
  • Peak Pilates MVE Chair (good for gyms and able to stack)
  • Malibu Pilates Chair 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Health Advice: Proper Hydration

Q: I am a long distance runner.  In the winter I will run indoors but when good weather hits I'm mostly outside.  How do you know you are hydrated enough?  Are there warning signs to watch for?

A: Yes, there are warning signs you can look out for.  Rule of thumb says you need to drink daily about half your weight in oz. of water.  If you workout this is much higher (about 8 oz. every 15 minutes depending on intensity).  This can be accomplished through water dense foods such as oranges or pure water.  Your cells and body all require H2O to live.  

Foods high in sugar, salt, and caffeine will dehydrate the body.  This is why beverages such as pop, coffee and some sports drinks can be more harm than good.  Opt for an electrolyte drink or gels when on long distance runs.  Carry extras in times of extreme cold or heat.  Water helps regulate body temperature and help your body sweat out toxins.  Without proper amounts your organs will work harder than necessary.  

The chart above shows how the color of your urine is a large indicator of proper hydration.  The color may change after taking supplements (your body will get rid of the excess it doesn't need typically turning your urine a deeper yellow) or certain foods such as beets.  The more clear your pee the better.  The darker the more dangerous.  Try to stay above the black line in the chart.

When you feel thirsty you are already behind on staying hydrated.  Drink up as soon as you're able.  Travel with a hydration pack or choose locations with access to drinking fountains or nearby stores to restock.  Other signs your body is lacking water is cramping muscles, feeling lightheaded or dizzy, constipation, and dry skin.