Month: January 2013

Guess what? Pilates is hard! But these guys keep coming back for more.

Rick started taking weekly private Pilates sessions because he was concerned about his posture and core strength. He periodically had back problems which he believes are primarily iliopsoas strains and quadratus lumborum tightness. He knows that core strength is critical to preventing such problems. In addition he has a family history of osteoarthritis and he feared that his poor posture and inflexibility set him up for similar problems. He had heard that Pilates was helpful for core strength, improving flexibility and posture and since he had a free hour class from the summer rewards program, he thought he would give it a try.

“I think Pilates has helped a great deal, though obviously it’s still a work in progress. My back problems have melted away, I can reach my toes on most days and I think I’m internalizing Danielle’s voice in my head to, “Scoop and open up your chest,” so that I’m much more mindful of my posture.”

There are a lot of things Rick enjoys about Pilates, including three major points;

  1. He feels like he is making progress
  2. His instructor Danielle is always pushing him further “in a pleasant way”
  3. He has fun! He now has added a mat class to his weekly regime. Rick says, “The Pilates studio seems always to be filled with laughter as we joke and lament our way through class. I look forward to it every week!”

Acupressure Unveiled

Acupressure is an alternative bodywork therapy where pressure is applied to specific points located along the meridian energy channels and is practiced by an oriental medical professional, or a specialized massage practitioner, as used for example in Shiatsu. The rewards are numerous; alleviating many physical and mental symptoms.

This alternative treatment is centered around 12 meridians containing 365 different points. The meridians are related to specific organs and regions of the body. The energy flow, or Qi, through the meridians controls blood flow. Acupressure is practiced by applying pressure to a point, either by fingers, knuckles, palms, elbows, or with special devices. Pressure should be applied to a point for 15 to 30 seconds when you are in a relaxed state.

A common physical ailment that can be addressed through acupressure is back and neck tension. Since so many suffer from this, here are a few specific points for spinal tension that can be administered for self-care. Massage these points one at a time at least once a day for a few weeks to see results. Some tenderness or a slight twinge is a common response.

Acupoint 17- are two points located on the top of the shoulder halfway between the neck and spine that run adjacent each other (see below).

Acupoint 27- are two points located on the upper trapezius, back side closer to the arm than the spine (see below).

Acupoint 24- are two points located just below the eyebrows (see below).

Acupressure is an interesting practice that has been used for centuries in China, and complimentary practices are used throughout Asia. Make sure to consult a specialist for specific ailments and treatment. These point locations were found at http://onlineartdirector.com/pointfinder/, an online guide to acupressure points.

Rebounding – more than just playful jumping

Rebounding is the most efficient form of cellular exercise available because it is a full body workout in the vertical plane, capitalizing on gravity’s vertical force and resulting in the cleansing of the body’s lymphatic system.

Rebounding is done on a soft mat surface called a rebounder, a sort of mini-trampoline. The rebounder is approximately 30 inches in diameter and anywhere from eight to twelve inches off the ground. A person moves up and down on the soft, non-jarring surface of the rebounder at whatever rate of exertion is appropriate to his or her fitness goals—light bouncing, jumping or a full aerobic workout. The exercise occurs completely in the vertical plane. The forces of acceleration and deceleration are at work here as well as the force of gravity. Rebound exercise strengthens our immune system at the same time that muscular and cardiovascular strength and endurance increase without having to sacrifice the health of knees, lower back and neck.

When we walk, run, swim or play a racquet sport we are constantly opposing gravity with every move because their motions are largely in the horizontal plane. Now let’s look at the two other forces at play in exercise. Acceleration is the starting of movement and deceleration is stopping movement. Normally they occur on the horizontal plane, opposing gravity. But with rebounding we accelerate or decelerate with gravity, conserving effort while maximizing gains.

The soft surface of the mat absorbs 87% of shock to muscles, joints, and bones according to a study by the University of Oklahoma. This shock absorption translates to a highly reduced risk of injury to the neck, upper back, and that most problem area – the lower back. The shock to muscles, joints, and bones is almost completely eliminated, thereby allowing you to exercise for longer periods of time with great comfort. Rebounder is an exercise to consider for people who experience shin splints, knee and ankle problems or problems with joint or tendons.

Rebounding puts a positive stress on every cell of the body. Cells become stronger and cleaner by the action of these three natural forces, acceleration, deceleration and gravity on the vertical plane. The motion stimulates and acts as your lymphatic pump, cleansing the lymphatic system.

Unlike blood, which has the heart as a pump, the lymphatic system doesn’t have a pump. It relies on exercise and deep breathing to keep it moving. Muscular contractions squeeze one-way valved vessels that move lymph from your toes and fingers to the base of the neck, where it drains at the sub-clavian vein. Think of it as your second circulatory system, one of the largest systems in the body. The lymphatic system consists of millions of tiny channels, mostly just under the dermis and in large part running parallel to our network of blood vessels. The lymph channels transport fats and other substances around the body and helps with elimination of waste products from cells.

On the rebounder at the bottom of the bounce, the gravitational pull closes the valves, but at the top of the bounce the pressure is decreased and the force of your falling allows the valves to open permitting the lymph to flow up. When lymph is flowing and waste is leaving, the body has a need for more white blood cells. After a few minutes of healthy bouncing, white blood cell count increases, strengthening the immune system.

In a 1980 study, NASA determined that rebounding is 68% more effective as an aerobic exercise than jogging. This effectiveness was determined according to the use of G-Force (gravitational force), which NASA finds of particular importance when training astronauts for the weightless experience of space flight. NASA research sites rebounding as the only exercise that will stimulate the cells of your internal organs, veins, arteries as well as bones and muscles, while increasing circulation and flushing the lymphatic system. “Journal of Applied Physiology 49(5):881-887, 1980”

Let your body become accustomed to this cellular exercise. Rebounding is a compact exercise in which one needs to systematically increase aerobic endurance. If you feel pain anywhere, stop, rest, and continue a little later. Always end with a Health Bounce (cool down) to flush out the lactic acid and uric acid that might cause sore muscles.

4 MOVES on the REBOUNDER

  1. Health Bounce – Feet will not leave mat surface. Gentle bounce, place feet hip width and shrug your shoulders or slightly lift your heels to get yourself bouncing. Gentle bouncing will strengthen every cell while flushing the lymphatic system. Two minutes are effective for moving the lymph fluid, flushing toxins and waste products out of your body.
    Use as a warm-up or cool down. Up to 4-5 times a day.
  2. Strength Bounce – To increase strength the feet leave the mat for jumping, jump higher to increase the G-force on each cell. Progression: Add leg weights or hold onto dumbbells will increase the G force. Always cool down.
  3. Aerobic Bounce – Always start easy, arms low and progress to overhead movements, jogging, sprinting, twists, jumping jacks, leg lifts, knee to opposite elbow lifts, front kicks, fast short jumps and fast sprints.
    If you are in good shape a fast sprint for one minute is effective for energizing the body. When changing motions, bouncing or jogging will help in the transition. End with a cool down.
  4. Sitting Bounce – Strengthens abdominals, legs, and back. The ultimate position is the “V Sit” position. Start at the low level to test the back. Sit on the rebounder, feet off the floor knees bent, and bounce by moving your arms in a circular motion. As strength increases you can pull your legs higher from the floor and lean back a little farther while bouncing.
  5. Balance – Standing on one leg hold for balance. Gentle bounce to strengthen one leg can be done for balance training.

7 minute rebound fitness from Linda Brooks

This is a wonderful exercise for anyone who wants a quick, compact exercise that energizes, cleanses, and builds health and strength. Do not attempt if you are a beginner or anyone with injuries who is still on a bouncing routine to rebuild health.

Be sure you can do 1-2 minutes of strength bouncing and a minute of jogging before attempting to put these move together.

Each session of 3 ½ minutes goes like this.
1. Health bounce – for 30 sec (warm up)
2. Strength bounce – for 1 minute (ready to exercise)
3. Fast sprint – 1 minute (pace yourself, full speed last 15 seconds)
4. Health bounce – for 1 minute (cool down)

Fast sprint is all about using up your ATP, and cause your mitochondria (fuel-producing furnaces) to divide. This provides you with more ATP for vigorous exercise, but you can now cool down, equipped with more mitochondria (the power house cell) for burning energy for hours. Rebounding is the most efficient from of cellular exercise available because it is a full body workout in the vertical plane. The internal science is a cellular exercise and the cleansing of the lymphatic system.

Have fun again, jump, rebound and strengthen cells!

Internal Resistance in Pilates Matwork

There are no towers of weights in the Pilates room. No clanging of metal on metal. So what makes Pilates a comparable workout to lifting heavy weights? How is it even possible to use the same exertion? The key is using internal resistance — leveraging the body’s own muscles in controlled opposition — to build strong, yet pliable muscles.

Joseph Pilates, who was a big, barrel-chested man as an adult, developed this carefully designed group of exercises in the early 1900’s after being plagued as a child with asthma, rickets, and rheumatic fever. He integrated many influences, including calisthenics, boxing, yoga, and gymnastics into a comprehensive system he called “Contrology.”

Joseph believed that the mind must be as active as the body, attuning itself to physical awareness and the internal, biomechanical components at play. With the mind connected to the body, you can harness internal resistance to control which of your muscles are moving and which are stabilizing. Without concentration the body will recruit the muscles that are strongest to perform the action, and the muscles that are weaker, especially the hard-to-find muscles of the low abdomen, miss their opportunities to be challenged. Being able to control which muscles are moving and which are stabilizing makes your movements more efficient and fluid, helps you stave off fatigue, and keeps you feeling energized throughout your workout.

Joseph Pilates’ concept of control hadn’t been studied or tested in the scientific community very much during his lifetime, but now we can explain the “-ology” aspect through simultaneous use of eccentric and isometric contractions.

Eccentric contraction happens in the muscles that are on the move, i.e. your hip and leg muscles when swinging the leg front and back. All Pilates exercises combine an element of strengthening with lengthening, so that your muscles are active while on the stretch. This is what makes the muscle stronger and more pliable at the same time. The benefits are two-fold—your hips get stronger and more flexible simultaneously. Plus, your muscles will start to look different, too, as they get longer and leaner.

Isometric contraction happens in the muscles that are not moving but stabilizing, i.e. holding your torso still while swinging the leg front and back. The more effective the isometric contraction the less you will become fatigued while active. High intensity movement requires us to be able to hold more muscles still than are actually moving. If there are “too many cooks into the kitchen,” the muscles groups you are trying to target don’t engage fully, and the ancillary muscles work too hard and are soon exhausted!

The combination of eccentric and isometric contraction exists throughout the Pilates work, especially so in the exercises on the mat. (See SAC Pilates Instructor Jocelyn Paoli’s posts on basic mat exercises.) In fact, matwork is considered to be both the base and the crown of the Pilates work. While the Pilates equipment assists in finding correct muscle use, control, and alignment, the tools of matwork are limited to your own internal resistance and gravity. It is with matwork that you are challenged to move and flow with control through whole body exercises with only the aid of muscle groups in opposition. As you master these concepts, the exercises continue to challenge with new variations that keep your mind engaged and your body working towards even more control, range, and pliability.

If you walk into the Mind/Body studio at the club during mat class, you will notice the fluidity and calmness of the movement. You will also notice intense focus, sweat, audible breathing, and yes, a few groans and grunts as the mind and body work together to build a comprehensively stronger, more flexible, more balanced physical self!

Why not give it a try as the new year kicks into high gear? Even if you are very fit, start with a Fundamentals or Basic class, as you will need to further develop or fine-tune your mind-body connection to really get into the meat of this unique workout. Enjoy the results!

Christin Call teaches Fundamentals of Pilates on Wednesdays, 12:00 – 12:45pm
Danielle Zack teaches Basic Pilates Mat on Saturdays, 8:00 – 8:25am
Masha Volotovskaya teaches Fudamentals of Pilates on Sundays, 11:15am – 12:00pm

Read these instructors’ bios and credentials.

Attention Squash Players: Don’t Warm Up

At least don’t warm up in the typical fashion: No 5 minutes on the elliptical, no just jumping onto the court. If you are playing the Seattle Open Squash Tournament this weekend, prepare yourself for success with Purposeful Movement Preparation. A Purposeful Movement Preparation routine facilitates movement patterns common to squash, namely lunges, shoulder rotation and rotational stability. The emphasis is on perfect movements and drills that offer ample feedback. Let’s compare three warm-up options to better understand the benefit of Purposeful Movement Preparation.

Option 1: 5 minutes of light cardio exercise on a bike, elliptical, treadmill etc. combined with static stretching of any muscles that feel “tight.”

Option 2: 5-10 minutes on the court hitting

Option 3: 5-10 minutes of Purposeful Movement Preparation

No single strategy is perfect, but the advantages of Purposeful Movement Preparation are apparent. 5-10 minutes focusing on performing perfect repetitions of the movements most necessary for squash will overcome stiffness and soreness while allowing you to play to your potential. After this, a few minutes hitting on the court will provide adequate cardiovascular and skill preparation.

Performing your Purposeful Movement Preparation will require that you execute drills that foster perfect movement through patterns like lunges, shoulder rotation and rotational stability. First, focus on attaining mobility through a full range of motion and then work on stability in the legs, hips and shoulders in progressively more challenging postures. To make your Purposeful Movement Preparation most effective, tailor it to primarily address the movements that you find most challenging.

If you would like to create a personalized Purposeful Movement Preparation routine to facilitate your performance, please contact Personal Fitness Trainer Hunter Spencer at hspencer@sacdt.com. Hunter will also be available during the Seattle Open Tournament on Saturday Jan. 18. He will be leading complimentary group Purposeful Movement Preparation routines and providing complimentary Functional Movement Screens to identify your area of greatest need. More in depth corrective exercise sessions are also available to ensure that you maximize your potential at this tournament.

Great Things Come in Little Packages

She’s a tiny, lovely, wonderful, amazing, hard working, positive, funny, strong, brave, determined woman who I’m proud to call a client and a friend.

Cookie Laughlin has been a member of the Seattle Athletic Club along with her husband John since October of 2004. She has been a mainstay down in the Pilates Studio as well as the occasional venture into the weight room. In the past few years Cookie has battled a serious illness that has kept her from the club for lengthy periods of time. Since August of 2012 she has been back and better than ever! She trains with Adriana Brown as often as her treatment schedule allows, sometimes it’s twice a week, sometimes once, sometimes it’s every other week. But no matter what, Cookie and John find time in their very busy lives to come into the club and train as much as they can. This is some real devotion, with all that is on her plate and all that she has to weekly recover from, Cookie is doing her part to work towards better health. When she started training again in August Cookie was still walking very slowly, couldn’t do much balancing, was having a hard time with her foot and hand neuropathy and was out of shape due to her lengthy period away from the club and her aggressive treatment. But in just these past few months she has overcome so much she hardly seems the same person! She works hard every session, pushing herself, trying new things, moving more and more weight, and really giving 100% every hour spent with Adriana. As of today, Cookie has come along LEAPS and BOUNDS. She can stand on one leg, she can lift 12.5lb dumbbells (for a woman who can barely feel her hands or feet this is nothing short of AMAZING), her cardiovascular health has improved 10 fold, she can go up the stairs every other step (sometimes every 3rd step, with a little help from her friends), she has done so many things that both her, her husband, and even Adriana didn’t think possible. This is the kind of woman trainers would kill to have as a client. She NEVER gives up, she hardly ever complains (she’s known to be disgusted that she sweats, she hates to sweat), she works hard, she keeps a smile on her face, and above all, she pushes herself each and every session.

With all that she’s up against, with all that she deals with concerning her health, she makes the hour in the gym her one and only priority while she’s training. She could duck out, she could sleep in, she could decide that she’s just too run down (most people dealing with what she does would easily go down that road), but she doesn’t. If everyone had her mind set we’d all be accomplishing our goals big and small every day! She doesn’t do it alone, she’s got an amazing support system, her husband John is always sweating right along side her and always has encouraging words. Together these two could move mountains… I think they already have.

Here’s to 2013 and conquering all the bad and making leaps and bounds to all the good. Cookie, you are a rock star, thank you for your inspiration.

Lower Back Pain: Quick tips to a healthier back

Have you ever bent down to tie your shoe or pick up some small object and come up with back pain? Have you hurt your back while playing with your kids or walking the dogs? Low back pain is a common problem and one of the main reasons is inactivity. As we get older and less active, we lose the strength and the balance in the core muscles (abs and low back) can lead to poor posture, improper alignment, fatigue and pain. Regular exercise is the best way to protect your lower back.

Quick tips to a healthier back

Sitting:

  1. Do not sit for long periods of time.
  2. Avoid sitting forward on a chair with back arched
  3. Sit in a chair with good lumbar support and proper position and height for the task. Keep your shoulders back. Switch sitting positions often and periodically walk around the office or gently stretch muscles to relieve tension. A pillow or rolled-up towel placed behind the small of your back can provide some lumbar support. If you must sit for a long period of time, rest your feet on a low stool or a stack of books.
  4. Avoid sitting with legs out straight and raised on a stool.

Standing:

  1. If standing for long periods, shift positions from one foot to another or place one foot on a stool.
  2. Stand tall, flatten low back, tighten lower muscles under belly button, and relax the knees a bit to lessen the pull of the hamstrings on your pelvis.
  3. Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes. A raised heel will exaggerate the curve in your lower back.

Lifting and Carrying:

  1. To pick up an object, bend at knees and not the waist; do not twist to pick up an object. Face the object squarely; and tuck in buttocks and tighten abdomen.
  2. To carry an object, hold object close to body; hold object at waist level; and do not try to carry object on one side of body for extended period of time. If have to be carried unbalanced, chance from one side to the other.

Sleeping:

  1. Do not stay in one position too long.
  2. The bed should be flat and firm yet comfortable.
  3. Do not sleep on the abdomen (stomach).
  4. Do not sleep on your back with legs fully extended.
  5. If sleeping on your back, a pillow should be placed under the knees.
  6. Ideally, sleep on the side with knees drawn up to reduce any curve in the spine.
  7. Do not sleep with arms extended overhead. This will increase curve in spine.
  8. If your bed is too soft and gives little support to your back you may need to place a ¾-inch plywood board underneath the mattress to give it a firm, stable surface for your low back.
  9. If dealing with acute pain from an injury the position of least strain on the back is in the fully recumbent position with the hips and knees at angles of 90 degrees.

Regular exercise and a healthy diet will help decrease your chances of a low back injury. Special attention should be placed on flexibility of the muscles that directly impact the movement and stabilization of the hips and low back. Please come and talk with personal trainer Jason Anderson janderson@sacdt.com or any of our training staff at the Seattle athletic club to get you started on a safe and effective workout program to protect your back.

Want cat like speed and reflexes?

Are you someone who enjoys a good challenge? Are you looking to improve every day fitness as well as fitness on the court/field/trail? If you want a leg up in all aspects of fitness it’s time you incorporated more “uneven training” in your routine. What does that mean? What does it look like? How does it help? Hold on, I’m getting there!

Uneven Training simply means uneven load, uneven surface, uneven base of support, and or single sided movements. This can be done with any weight equipment or even no equipment at all. A few of my personal favorite exercises are:

  1. Single leg Power Jump. In this exercise you need no weight (although if you want to grab a 15lb dumbbell be my guest)! Pick a leg, “load up” meaning, drop down into a squat and then power up as high as you can in a jump. You can be way more powerful in this exercise if you use your non weighted leg by swinging it back behind you in your load up and then driving it up (think knee to chest) in your jump phase. The goal is to get maximum height and maximum load up as well as keeping speed and balance. The non loaded leg should never touch the floor.
  2. Slide Board Scissor Lunges. Sounds fancy right? Grab those amazing looking booties, roll out the slide board, and get to lunging! Start in the middle of the board facing one end; begin the movement by SIMULTANEOUSLY pushing one foot forward while the other foot goes backwards. As you do this drop down in your lunge (don’t forget to bend that back knee!), then SIMULTANEOUSLY pull both feet back underneath you. See if you can do this without stopping in the middle. Enjoy!
  3. Uneven kettlebell Squat and Press. Grab two kettlebells of different weight (I would use a 26 and a 36lb). Hold the bells in rack position as you descend down into your squat, as you come up power press (meaning use the quick up out of your squat) to shoulder press both weights. The uneven load will clearly make one side work harder as well as challenge your core to keep the bells tight and even. Don’t forget to switch sides!
  4. Anything Sandbag or Sandbell. Both of these tools are amazing for Uneven Training. Both of these pieces of equipment are filled with sand so the weight is ever changing and the load is always different with each rep. One of my personal favorite Sandbell exercises is Power Jumps Forward and Backwards. In this exercise you hold the Sandbell by the sides (a 20lb-30lb bell is great), drop your hips down into a squat (butt down, chest up, spine extended, shoulders engaged), then stand up opening your hips and swing the bell up over your head as you jump. The weight and the swing should propel you backwards (a backwards jump), then swing the bell down the way you came back into your load up squat, the swing forward now creates a forward jump. Try to keep up your speed and push yourself to jump as far forwards and backwards as you can.

Why are we doing this again? Uneven training, especially combined with lateral training will greatly improve your small supporting muscles (muscles in your core, in your glutes, in your calves, and in your feet) with increased strength and coordination. This will help you move more quickly and efficiently during any sport. In addition, uneven training helps to create better body symmetry (I know how much that left side lags behind… not for long) and better non dominant body awareness. You will quickly find your weak points and by doing things single sided as well as with uneven weight you will quickly make strength, coordination, and flexibility gains. Your body must adjust to perform these exercises; otherwise they simply cannot be done. There is no “muscling” through a Slide Board Scissor Lunge, either you can do it or you can’t, end of story.

So if you are tired of feeling like you aren’t making the strength gains you want to, you just aren’t working hard enough but you don’t know how to push yourself, or if you are tired of your workouts and you are looking for something fun and challenging then Uneven Training is for you! If you have more questions or are interested in learning how to incorporate Uneven Training into your routine please contact Personal Trainer Adriana Brown.

Body fat measurment techniques

There are many techniques to measuring the amount of fat one has on their body; some shown to be very accurate and others not so much. Below are NINE different ways professionals have come up with thus far to measure the amount of body fat on oneself:

  1. Body Mass Index (BMI) – This is a calculation that simply uses the subject’s height and weight. These two numbers are put into a formula and calculated out to give you an estimated body fat percentage. This technique does not take muscle into affect, therefore if we have a male subject who is 5’6” and extremely muscular so he weighs 200lbs, the BMI calculation will say that he is in the obese category.
  2. Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA) – This is a scale or handheld device that sends a harmless electrical current through your body to read your body fat. The strength and speed of the electrical signal is measured by this along with your age, gender, height and weight. These devices are very sensitive to hydration; therefore if you have consumed a large amount of water or even a bottle of water right before using the BIA, readings will be hindered.
  3. Skinfold Calipers – This is a pinching test measured at different locations on your body with a device called Calipers. This test depends on the skill level of the person giving the test and how well they know exactly where and how to pinch the skin. The skin fold calipers measure the amount of subcutaneous fat, which is the fat found beneath the outermost layer of skin. It does not take visceral fat into account, which is found between the organs in the peritoneal cavity.
  4. Dual Energy X-ray Absorpitometry (DEXA) – This is the same device specialist use to measure bone density to determine the risks of osteoporosis. This x-ray scanner can also measure your body fat mass as well as your muscle mass. Not only does it measure overall body fat, but it can pinpoint the fat deposits in specific areas of the body.
  5. Infrared Light Measuring – This is a probe that is placed on the body and sends an infrared light ray through the fat and muscle content. It also takes your age, gender, height, weight, frame size, and activity level into account. The probe then gives you an estimated percent of body fat.
  6. Hydro-densitometry (Under water weighing) – This is a tank device filled with water where the subject sits on a chair attached to a scale. They then blow out air and continue to blow out all their air while going under water. The person giving the test will read the scale once the subject has displaced as much air as possible. This number will be put into a calculation and give you a body fat percentage estimation.
  7. Bod Pod – This is a chamber that you sit in while being very still and controlling your breathing. It relies totally on your air displacement to determine your body fat. Your hydration level before the test is one thing that can affect the results, along with movement and breathing technique.
  8. Girth Measurements – This is done with a tape measure at different places on the body. The most common place and the one used for determining body fat is the waist. Waist circumference is taken at the belly button level. Men with a measurement higher than 40 inches and women with a measurement higher than 35 inches are considered obese.
  9. Height/Weight Charts – This is a table or chart comparing weight versus height. Your height is on one axis and weight on the other, then bringing the two to meet in the middle, it determines if you are “underweight,” “average,” “overweight,” or “obese.” This takes gender into consideration, and does not put age or muscle versus fat into play.

I’m sure everyone is wondering which of these 9 techniques is considered the BEST and the WORST. More insight to this will be coming in a follow up to this post in the near future. If you have questions about your body fat measurements, please feel free to contact Personal Trainer Amber Gruger.

Postpartum Exercises

Pregnancy can be tough on the body; an individualized experience that can leave you stronger in many ways, yet weaker in others. Each unique experience will require a different approach to your exercise routine. Isometric core exercises and stabilization are viable with every case. Speak to your doctor or a fitness professional for details concerning where you should start.

Isometrics involving a static hold position where you are finding proper core activation in different planes is a good place to start from. One useful isometric is lying down on your back; feet flat against the ground perform a few pelvic bowls by tucking the hips under and rounding the lower back and then performing the opposite with the lower back in an arched position. Find the neutral, center for the spine, or if you feel excessive lower back tension remain in the scoop, rounded position. With your hands at the front part of your hip bones tense the inner pelvic floor muscles and directly between your hands, below the line of the belly button. One way to rediscover these muscles is to say “hut” with forceful breath and you will notice a contraction that tightens the muscles inward and up. Once you have engaged those muscles you can perform a plank working from the wall, to a bench, to the ground on your knees, and last on the feet.

Stabilization is where you have more integration of stabilizer muscles performed in an unstable exercise. A single leg balance should be performed with the same muscle contraction. A good progression to strengthen the psoas is doing a standing hip hike with a towel against the wall, then a floor leg march, then an alternating leg lift, and lastly a pilates roll up exercise. Nothing should be progressed upon until you feel confident you have full control of the motion. Once these basic are accomplished with good form exercises in other planes of motion should be performed.

Every exercise variance should be based on if your doctor has cleared you for exercise and if it is appropriate considering circumstances such as cesarean or abdominal separation. If the exercises are performed correctly, you will create more strength and proper length in the most impacted area of the body. For further details, additional exercises and questions please contact personal fitness trainer Amber Walz.