Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Posture 203: Scoliosis

Scoliosis is medical term for a curve in the spine (usually in a S or C shape).  Sometimes this is minimal and other times it is highly noticeable.  

How do I know if I have it?  In grade school or at the doctor's office they typically do the Adams forward bend test to check for a healthy spine.  Gait or postural analysis may be done also.  They are checking to see if your shoulders and hips are in alignment.  With scoliosis usually one is higher than the other.  If you take your pants to be hemmed and one side has a leg length difference this can also be an indicator.  Most people experience back problems or fatigue throughout the day causing an x-ray or MIR to be done.  Pregnancy may also make the curve worse. 

Everyone has some type of muscle imbalance.  Scoliosis makes this more noticeable.  Gravity is constantly decompressing the spine.  Make sure to do some activity such as ballet, yoga, Pilates or recreational sports to balance the body.   

Healthy spine                w/Scoliosis
Types of scoliosis:

  • Idiopathic (65%): may be genetic, mostly found in females or young girls, worse during growth spurts 
  • Congenital (15%): occurs in the womb and birth when the baby's ribs or spinal bones don't form properly
  • Neuromuscular (10%): brought on by nervous system problems such as Polio, muscular dystrophy, spina bifida or cerebral palsy
Learning how to stabilize well will teach your client what good posture should feel like.  This means trying to stay symmetrical while standing, seated and lying down.  Other good things to work on would be lateral flexion, rotation and flexion (as long as there isn't a rod or fusion of the spine).  Stretch and strengthen the weaker side to improve their quality of living.

Read Curves, Twists and Bends to learn more about scoliosis and helpful exercises to correct muscle imbalances.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Off the Equipment onto the Mat

Get creative!  Sometimes we have to take on new challenges and see how the body moves with less assistance.  Take some of the equipment exercises and translate them into you mat class.  Mix them in with the basics and you will see just how much the core can be tested!
  • Breathing (Teeter Totter)
    • Ribcage arms to warm up, move into chin nods or curl ups, add on hip escalator as your combo (ribcage arms with the bridge than lower into your curl up)
  • Footwork Series (add in after Roll Ups and before ab series)
    • Frogs, Parallel (pointed/flexed), Tendon Stretch (legs out to point of control while moving at ankles only)
  • Tree (advanced hamstring stretch on mat)
  • Tendon Stretch
    • Lift hips and swing behind bottom several times to find C curve
  • Stomach Massage (in place of Can-Can)
    • Flat/Arms Back, use more like a seated hamstring curl, heels press and drag along mat 
  • Backstroke
    • Add it into your ab series
  • Chest Expansion/Thigh Stretch
    • Add hand weights or use it it for posture work
  • Elephant
    • Walk ins/outs with feet or hands, prep for Push Up series
  • Knee Stretch (Knees Off)
    • Good building block for Planks
  • Pulling Straps/Breast stroke (add in with extension work)
    • One or both variations; can add small hand weights 
  • Short Box Series
    • Side-to-Side and Twist are good posture additions, use a band or pole
  • Rowing 1-4 
    • Use in place of posture work like Spine Stretch Forward or Twist; can add small hand weights for more challenge
    • Balanced Body Video 
  • Snake and Twist

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Posture 103: Walking

Your posture when you walk will translate into good running posture.  Many people over-stride which can lead to injury.  Improving your form can be very beneficial.  

Think of your Pilates principles as you move.  Gaze at the horizon so your chin is parallel to the ground.  Breathe deeply.  Abs in and up.  Focus on your body alignment keeping your shoulders broad and tailbone towards the floor.  All ten toes face forward and legs are parallel like train tracks.  Push off your heel to toe to propel you forward (glutes and hamstrings activate).          

The image below goes into greater detail:

Fast walkers use these proper body mechanics to work efficiently.  Pretend your hands are holding potato chips as they swing naturally with your stride.  As you master the basics you will be able to take more steps per minute for speed.  A strong core and glutes will provide you with more power.  

Friday, April 5, 2013

Exploring the Cadillac

The Cadillac or Trapeze Table is a piece of Pilates equipment with all the bells and whistles of a fancy car.  At first, this 6 foot tall bed frame seems like an intimidating medieval torture device.  However, modeled after a hospital bed with metal pipes to create a canopy over a mat, it is rather basic.  Individual springs help to quickly strengthen clients and enhance their Matwork practice.  Clients experience challenging exercises such as in Teasers with help of the Push Through bar or learn to articulate with the Roll Back using springs to gradually peel the spine along the mat.

This piece is normally used for private sessions.  Other versions of it have been made into Towers or Wall Units for group sessions or home use.  Specialty ones include a convertible Reformer for the best of both worlds.  Leaving out the four posts takes away advanced exercising such as Hanging Pull Ups.

You can isolate almost every muscle group and correct basic movement patterns with ease.  The taller height is an asset for elderly or obese clients.  The Cadillac is expensive yet versatile.