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Exercises for better posture

I remember my first year of Uni sitting at the desk for long hours thinking how unnatural it felt to just sit there hunched over a computer. My whole body began to change- my shoulders rounded forward, I started getting headaches, my neck was always tight, my lower back ached, and my hips felt like tight ropes. Not only did I notice physical changes, I also felt more lethargic, and craved sugar and caffeine to boost my energy. Having been a professional dancer where the longest I ever sat down was on a flight, this concept of removing myself from my body in order to sit at a desk for MOST of the time, felt like physical torcher!!

Poor pusture from desk work can lead to a snow ball effect on your health. This is why it is SO important to stay connected to your body and give it the stretches, breath work, and exercises it needs when you are working at your desk. In fact, your mental focus and productivity will improve because of it. When you exercise, you increase blood flow to your brain which increases awareness, you also feed those dormant muscles with oxygen and nutrients.

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What I find most interesting is how humans can adapt to this dysfunction. If we do something long enough, it can dangerously become our new "normal", and we forget just how vibrant and healthy we can feel!

Sitting hunched over a computer shortnes and tightens the muscles at the front of your body, while making the muscles at the back become wasted and weak. It is important to do exercises that hold your skeletal frame in it’s most optimal position so that your organs and muscles can function properly.

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Here are just a few benefits of doing exercises which improve your posture:

  • Help respiratory problems
  • Prevent varicose veins
  • Cure back pain
  • Aid healthy digestion
  • Stop headaches
  • Minimise work related injury
  • Increase energy
  • Minimise muscle cramps
  • Strengthen your immunity
  • Improve focus and productivity at work
  • Look taller, slimmer, and feel more confident!

Posture

If you are not someone who likes the gym or going for a run, then you might find a hobby that keeps you moving, like dancing, cycling, swimming, or Pilates.

Here is an exercise video especially for all those desk workers out there to help you

  • Open out your shoulders
  • Release neck tension
  • Strengthen back muscles
  • Increase circulation to vital organise
  • Relax the nervous system

PostureExercises

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XMx5dnPTy4s&t=141s

If you are time poor, pick just 3 exercises from the video to do every day.

The next time you are sitting at your desk try setting an alarm on your phone that goes off every hour or 2 hours and take 5 to revive. Do 5 stretches, take 5 deep breaths, and drink 500gm of water.

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5 exercise tips after pregnancy

During pregnancy the body undergoes many changes. Women often come to me after childbirth expressing a sense of disconnect to their body, like they can’t quite contract their muscles the same way. It can take time to rebuild these mind-body connections and pilates is a great way to do this safely. Jumping into high impact exercise and throwing yourself into tummy crunches may put you at risk of injury, incontinence, or increase abdominal separation (diastasis recti). The joints are unstable, the abdominal and pelvic floor muscles have stretched and may be weakened, and your upper back and shoulders may feel tight and rigid. Here are 5 ways Pilates can help you after child birth:

1. Pilates can heal diastases recti
During pregnancy the two sides of the abdominal wall separate and for some women there still remains a space where the two sides connect. This can happen anywhere from below the sternum down to the pubic bone. Doing improper loaded sit ups/crunches can actually increase this separation. Specific breathing techniques and pre-pilates exercises help you fuse these two sides back together safely, while regaining a flat tummy and core strength.

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2. Strengthen Pelvic floor muscles
One of the main principles in pilates is engaging the pelvic floor muscles. When we engage our pelvic floor we also engage our deep core muscles. The pelvic floor can become weaker during pregnancy due to the increased pressure from the uterus and baby being placed on its walls. Many women struggle to feel their pelvic floor after birth, but through special verbal cues, exercises, and breathing techniques pilates will help you re-find and strengthen your pelvic floor which can stop incontinence problems, increase sexual pleasure, and activate your deep core muscles.

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3. Stabilise your joints
During pregnancy a hormone called relaxin is released through the body. In preparation for childbirth it relaxes the ligaments in the pelvis and softens and widens the cervix, which can cause the joints to be unstable. With precise movement and optimal alignment, pilates focuses on isolating some body parts while not moving others. This is how pilates helps to strengthen all the small muscles around the joints without risking injury that many high impact weight-training exercise can do.

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4. Re- align your body and posture
During pregnancy the body’s centre of gravity changes, this affects biomechanical movement and alters the posture. The shoulders can be protracted forward and feel tight. The lower back is overly arched, and often the head pokes forward. The very purpose of Pilates is to reposition the body to its optimal alignment where all the joints are working properly again, and unnecessary tension is removed from the muscles. This eliminates postural related aches and pain, especially in the hips and back.

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It s usually safe to resume exercise 6 weeks after birth, and start pelvic floor exercises as soon as you feel pain free. Just get clearance from your GP. Ask us about our post-natal mums+ bubs classes and how we can help you build strength safely as a new mum.

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Pilates and Sport Injury Prevention

Pilates is well known for its capacity to increase strength and endurance of our core postural muscles as well as having a range of other benefits including improvements in joint mobility, balance and coordination. Another, but less well-known benefit is its ability to amend muscular imbalances and prevent sporting ailments such as overuse injuries.

A number of famous athletes practice Pilates to not only enhance their performance but to help avoid common injuries. Professional golfer Tiger Woods, basketball star Jason Kidd and pitcher Curt Schilling all use Pilates as a way of building stability, increasing range of motion and to promote career longevity.

Participating in sporting activities with a more stable and flexible body decreases the chances of sustaining common injuries and sprains. Many Pilates exercises such as Cranes help to stabilise the ankles, knees and hips and other movements like foam roller leg lifts help you engage your core and increase your overall athletic performance.

In our private and semi private classes at Intuitive Body Pilates, our instructors can tailor a program to your needs depending on what sporting activities you regularly engage in and what potential injuries you may be susceptible to. Once we develop a customised program for you, we provide personal guidance using the Reformer and other specialised Pilates equipment to strengthen and condition the parts of the body that will best help prevent common injuries from occurring.

What are the benefits of Pilates?

Many people are unfortunately still not sure what Pilates even is, while those who do tend to be Pilates addicts and say it has helped improve all other activities in daily life! If you have never stepped foot into a Pilates studio there is tons of research out there that recommends you should, and here’s just a few reasons why….

Flat toned tummy

Pilates focuses on your core strength more than any other workout. A study by Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise showed that after 36 weeks of Pilates training, women strengthened their rectus abdominis muscles (the six pack) more than 21%, while eliminating muscle imbalances between the right and left sides of their core. Pilates teaches you a special way of engaging your stomach muscles that help you tone up the lower tummy, which is often a challenging area to strengthen.

Relieve back pain

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While it is nice to achieve a toned flat stomach, Pilates also strengths the deeper muscles of the core and back, which when weak are often associated with chronic lower back pain. Through careful controlled isolated movement, you learn how to engage the smaller and deeper muscles in your body. This takes pressure off the joints relieving unnecessary tension, protects your joints, and helps improves your biomechanics. According to a study in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, people with chronic lower back pain who practiced Pilates for just four weeks, experienced more relief than those who visited a physician and other specialists.

Improve your posture

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The way we move speaks louder than words! Pilates teaches you a whole new body language. Being aware of how you hold yourself is 90% of the challenge in looking better and feeling great. The detail to alignment and precision in Pilates, will transform your body in ways you never knew could, allowing you to move effortlessly and achieve an elegant posture.

Gain long, lean muscles and flexibility

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Most exercise methods use heavy weights and tend to build short bulky muscles that can often lead to injury. Pilates lengthens the muscles while its strengthens, creating that lean toned muscle definition like a dancer. A body with balanced strength and better joint mobility (flexibility) is more agile and efficient, and less likely to be injured.

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Pilates is for everyone!

Wether you are an athlete, a new mum, or recovering from an injury, Pilates can help you achieve your goals. As it is a low impact exercise method, offering modifications and high attention to technique, it is a safe way to build strength and challenging in all the right ways.

These are just some of the benefits of Pilates, there are plenty more including pelvic floor strength, healing abdominal separation after birth, and improving bone density in osteoporotic people. The best way to find out is to try a class yourself!

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