Pilates has become known for creating more strength, improving coordination, and speeding recovery.
But like any specialized system of exercise, not every teacher brings the same depth of knowledge and knack for technique to the task. When evaluating different instructors and studios, here's what you should consider:
Training in body mechanics: Ideally, you would do well to find a Pilates teacher who has extensive experience in understanding physiology, anatomy, movement, and exercise science. For example, seeking out a physical therapist who can guide you through Pilates sessions would give you a more personalized plan, geared toward your goals, level of fitness, and injury history.
Listening skills: There are some classes, like dance sessions or kickboxing, where you can jump in, have fun, and work up a sweat. But Pilates is all about precision, not a calorie scorch. In order to get the best results, you need a teacher who will listen to your aims — injury prevention vs. performance boost — and tailor your movements accordingly.
Certification and experience: Anyone can take a quickie course (sometimes even online) and then claim to be a Pilates teacher. That's why it's particularly important to talk to teachers about their training and background, especially if you'll be working with equipment. Like any type of exercise, it's possible to become injured if training isn't done properly, so making the effort to check into a teacher's background is essential.
Personality and rapport: Someone could be the most talented Pilates teacher in the world, but if you dread having to go to sessions, you're more likely to skip them altogether. Much like other types of teachers, forging a personal connection can help you work together and focus on your goals.
In general, it helps to find a teacher that makes you feel not only results-driven, but also safe. Try out a session or two before committing to a long-term practice with that teacher, and eventually you'll find a Pilates relationship that clicks.
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Gluteal Amnesia, though sounds silly, affects a large percent of the American population. If you suffer from back, hip, knee or shoulder pain you could be one of the many who lack proper gluteal activation.
Why does gluteal amnesia occur
Gluteal Amnesia is when your body forgets how to activate the gluteal muscles properly. The average adult is sedentary for 64% of the time they are awake due to the overwhelming majority of adults working a desk job that require almost no physical activity. Because of this sedentary lifestyle, our muscles are not working as much as they should be, in particular our gluteal muscles. This is detrimental to the whole body because the glutes are the strongest and largest muscle in the body. Excessive sitting lengthens the gluteal muscles and tightens the hip flexors which leads to decreased stabilizing function and overall gluteal weakness. Beyond excessive sitting, gluteal amnesia can also occur because of the overworking of your quadriceps, a previous injury, poor core strength, improper body mechanics and poor posture such as an anterior pelvic tilt.
How gluteal amnesia contributes to injury
There are a number of injuries that are caused by weak gluteal muscles, here are the three most common:
Hamstring strains: The over activation of the hamstring occurs because the glute is not firing properly during hip extension. This puts too much pressure on the hamstring causing a strain.
Low back pain: The gluteus maximus plays a crucial role in the stabilization of the pelvis and spine. Weak glutes cause your lower back muscles to pick up the slack. Because your glutes are not doing some of the work, your back will suffer.
Knee pain: Glute weakness creates excessive rotation of the femur which puts too much pressure on the knee. Knee injury examples due to weak glutes: Iliotibial band syndrome and ACL injuries.
Symptoms of gluteal amnesia
Correcting gluteal amnesia
In order to correct gluteal amnesia, you need to retrain your gluteal muscles to activate properly. One way to reverse gluteal amnesia is to warm up your glutes prior to your workout. Before your workout do 5-10 minutes of glute specific exercise such as gluteal bridges, clamshell exercise and donkey kicks. This will activate and wake up your glutes so they are ready to be used during your workout. Self-myofasical release can also help with gluteal activation. Use a lacrosse ball or foam roller to help loosen your over activated muscles i.e. hamstrings, hip flexors and lower back muscles. This will allow for your glutes to activate more easily.
First developed to build strength among prisoners of WWI internment camps, Pilates has evolved over the past 75 years as a way to strengthen core muscles, improve coordination, and shorten injury recovery time.
But couldn't that be said about other types of practices? For example, yoga claims to have all those results as well, and so do martial arts like Capoeira and judo. But Pilates is unique among other fitness-related practices for several reasons:
Small movements, big results: Particularly in martial arts, big movements tend to be the norm, such as kicking and striking. Even in yoga, a flow practice can have a student sweeping from standing to plank pose in just a few seconds. But Pilates is highly focused on deliberate, controlled movements that are seemingly easy — but just wait until you've done a few sessions. Those small tweaks can add up to major improvements in flexibility and body awareness. The emphasis here is on precision, breathing, and mental presence. That benefits the entire body and mind, not just the muscles that were worked in a particular session.
Specialized equipment: Pilates does have an option of doing mat classes, done on a mat that's similar to yoga. But more advanced studios will have apparatus like the Reformer, the Cadillac, Wunda Chair, and other pieces of equipment that can look odd to the uninitiated. Comprised of straps, springs, and padded areas, these devices help you to adjust your level of movement, so you can progress from absolute beginner on up to higher levels. What all equipment has in common is a continued focus on core muscles and expending effort from there.
Although Pilates has much in common with other types of exercises that emphasize a mind-body connection for maximum results, the system is distinctive when it comes to building proper form and alignment.
As part of Pilates, there are many pieces of equipment designed to help people get in and out of movements more easily, and adjust according to their experience, injury, and fitness levels.
But even with all that said, it's easy to mistake the Reformer — considered the top choice for many Pilates teachers and students — as some type of Medieval relic.
Vaguely resembling a rack from a bad movie that's set in the Middle Ages, the Reformer comes in several variations, with different types of attachments, but all resemble a strange twin bed that's only partially padded.
Evolution of the form
Since the founder of the practice, Joseph Pilates, developed the system for those in World War II internment camps, it's been said that the Reformer gets its look from the small beds prisoners had. With many growing weaker by the day, Pilates modified the beds with springs and straps to allow them to do strength-building exercises without additional effort.
Since then, the equipment has been refined and scaled down, so that it's now more like a funky sled than a weird bed. Straps allow you to slide from one end to the other, all while concentrating on specific muscles and consistent breathing.
Ultimate in versatility
There's good reason that the Reformer is so popular for Pilates. Exercises can be done sitting, standing, lying down, or kneeling. By being able to use components like the footbar and shoulder blocks, you can train several parts of the body in a short timeframe.
Also helpful, the Reformer is geared toward letting you work at multiple levels. So, you can still do exercises effectively even if you're injured or a beginner. No matter what level you work at, the equipment will allow you to build strength, focus, and coordination.
The best way to use the Reformer is under the expert guidance of a qualified instructor who can assess which exercises are right for your goals.
Pilates is a beneficial method for recovering from injury, optimizing performance, and preventing physical ills. But there’s a way to maximize results even more: combining the technique with physical therapy.
Rest is an essential part of training, but can sometimes be the hardest part in your running journey. Many athletes do not realize that rest and recovery actually improves performance, which is why tapering is an important part of training for a marathon or any type of competition.
Tapering can be a challenge for many athletes. After weeks of hard training, slowing down before a race is a mental game. Reducing the miles and adding more rest time builds glycogen stores which helps the muscles heal. Tapering also reduces damage to the muscles, increases strength and even improves the nervous system which leads to more efficient running.
Some athletes make the mistake of thinking since they are reducing the miles, they need to increase the intensity of those shorter runs. This is harmful because your muscles are not used to short high intensity workouts and it will fatigue your muscles. It is also important to remember that you may not feel great during the beginning of your taper. Many athletes feel sluggish and winded on workouts they thought should be easy, some also feel phantom pains. This is a common part of tapering and resisting the temptation to resume regular workouts can be a challenge. This feeling does not last forever though, most athletes begin to feel back to normal one or two days before the race.
It is important to find a balance that works for you because everyone’s tapering length is different. Some runners taper only a week before a race and others taper 3 weeks before. Experiment to find what works for you, and your body will thank you.
There are hundreds of different types of equipment to analyze your golf swing, along with pricey clubs that guarantee an improved swing and less injuries. However these devices can only solve part of the problem. Think about it, you could have the nicest looking car there is, but without the correct internal parts it is useless, this goes for golf or any sport.
Whether your goal is to improve your golf game or prevent injury, it is essential to understand how important proper body mechanics, mobility and flexibility are in golf. No matter how much proper swinging form can be taught, reaching your optimal performance will be an upward battle without mobility, flexibility and strength in the right areas. It is fairly easy to see what is outwardly wrong with a swing, but the real question is why? For example, maybe you have a hard time achieving a full backswing or often lose distance off the tee. Part of your problem could be poor technique, but it is more likely to do with tight hip flexors. Tight hip flexors limit trunk rotation, which then leads to other parts of the body compensating, such as the shoulders, elbows, wrists, hamstrings and lower back–often resulting in injury.
Before jumping to correct your swing technique take a step back to find out if there is an underlying physical limitation keeping you from the golf game of your dreams. A physical therapist will be able to identify these areas of weakness and immobility, and offer a personalized solution to get your body working properly to greatly improve your game.
2 stretches for improved golf mobility:
A-Frame Stretch: Helps improve hip mobility
Place your feet shoulder width apart. Slightly bend your knees and hinge forward and place your arm across your knees. With your other arm, rotate your trunk and your arm until your arm is pointing to the sky. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds. Repeat several times with both arms.
Split Stance Windmill: Helps improve T-spine mobility and hip rotation
Stand in a lunge and lean slightly forward with most of your weight in your front foot. Put both of your arms out wide, parallel to the ground. If your right leg is in front, turn the trunk of your body to the right so your left arm is in front of your body and your right arm is pointing up and behind you, and your chest is facing to the right of you. Hold this position for 10 seconds and repeat 6 times on each side.
Don't be a Charles Barkley and let the experts at Viverant help improve your golf game.
As a way to build strength, balance, and coordination, Pilates has won a worldwide following for its simple-yet-powerful movements.
People rely on Pilates techniques — developed nearly a century ago — to recover from injury, enhance performance, and improve overall wellbeing. Most notably, some of the basics can be helpful for any type of training. Here are the three Cs that are at the core of the practice:
Control: When he first developed this system of exercise, Joseph Pilates called it "contrology." (Not very catchy, obviously.) That's because every movement is done with complete control, often at a slow pace so it's easier to feel muscles engage.
Concentration: These deliberate movements help to fire up different muscle groups, but control is also mental — as you transition from one position to another, having conscious awareness of how your body is moving is crucial. This engagement lingers long after Pilates sessions, since that type of concentration can help in sports or even everyday life. The more control you have over how your body is operating, the less chance you'll have of injury.
Centering: Often, Pilates is used as a synonym for "core work" but that's not quite right. Although the abdominal muscles get significant benefits from Pilates sessions, a major principle for the practice is centering, not just doing crunches. Pilates believed that the center of the torso — from the lower ribs to the pubic bone — can be considered the powerhouse of the body. All movements originate from this area, so directing effort toward that center, and having movement come from there, give each exercise better flow and intention.
With these in mind, any Pilates session can yield better results. Whether working on specialized equipment or doing exercises on a mat, these Cs can help you make the most of any Pilates-focused time.
To maximize long distance running results, nutrition must become a major part in your training regime. Treating your long runs as trial races is a great way to see what works for you and what you should eat on race day. What, when and how much to eat is different for everyone, but there are some guidelines you can follow to find what works best for you.
Before a long run
There is nothing worse than having an uneasy stomach only a few miles into a race, which is why it is important to train your whole body including your stomach.
Foods to Avoid:
Foods high in fiber can often cause gastrointestinal stress, which often leads to an upset stomach, gas and bloating. High fiber foods also take up more water, causing you to feel heavy and slow. Fiber is an important part of your daily nutrition, but if you are sensitive to fiber, try eating fibrous foods later in the day.
Fatty foods can often make you feel sluggish. It might be obvious to avoid fast foods, but other healthy fatty foods, such as nuts and avocados should also be avoided a couple hours before a long run. Fat takes longer to digest and convert to energy.
Foods to Eat:
Carbohydrates are great before a long run. Both whole grain and refined carbs have their benefits, but it is important to find a balance. Refined carbs have less fiber than whole grains, and therefore are more easily broken down and quickly turned into the energy you need to tackle a long run. However, refined carbs have less nutritional benefits and should be eaten in moderation.
Fruits and vegetables that are low in fiber also help boost your running game. Low fiber fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, cantaloupe and zucchinis are easily digestible and will not weigh you down.
Electrolytes, though not a food, are important before a long run. Endurance athletes lose a significant amount of electrolytes in their sweat, and without the proper replacement it leads to muscle cramping. For the casual runner who runs less than one hour, eating a well rounded diet with nutrient rich foods and proper hydration will most likely give them the amount of electrolytes they need. However, when heading out on a long run sodium-enhanced sports drinks can be helpful to keep electrolytes as well as carbs at an optimal level.
3-4 hours before a long run: A meal including pasta or rice with a low-fat sauce, baked beans on toast, or a baked potato with cottage cheese and milk.
1-2 hours before a long run: Snacks could include foods such as cereal with milk, fruit flavored yogurt, or liquid meal supplement.
Less than 1 hour before a long run: Sports drink, carbohydrate gel, or sports bar
Most athletes are able to consume carbohydrates within the hour before a run, but for some, their blood glucose levels drop due to the increase of insulin. It’s important to remember everybody’s system works a little differently so it is best to experiment with foods and time consumed before a big event like a marathon and find a routine that works.
For help developing a nutrition plan that is right for you, contact Viverant to optimize your training.
Although physical activity can be hugely beneficial for kids and teens, the rise in sports injuries among young athletes is a significant concern. There are a number of reasons as to why hospital visits are trending upward, and one major factor is improper training technique.
Because young players have changing muscle mass and growing bones, they require not just sport-specific instruction, but also general training in an important skill like deceleration.
A great deal of practice time goes into teaching young athletes how to get faster and turn more quickly. These skills lend themselves to numerous sports, including baseball, football, basketball, tennis, and volleyball. Even gymnastics involves sprinting in many of its floor exercises.
But deceleration, which involves learning how to slow down and change direction safely before re-accelerating, is equally important. In many cases, it's actually more crucial for injury prevention than learning to increase speed.
Deceleration training is more than simply slowing down as quickly as possible. It involves a professional who looks at the body mechanics of a particular athlete, and factors in the type of sport he or she plays. For example, a teenage girl who plays basketball will have different deceleration techniques than a middle-school boy in football.
But there are some commonalities when it comes to benefits. Deceleration training prevents numerous injuries, particularly ACL tears that might result from improper turns at high speed.
The training can also improve sports performance. Although some people might think that teaching kids to slow down would hinder their ability to gain speed and endurance, the opposite is true. Because deceleration teaches body control at a higher level, young athletes are able to increase skill in a sport. For example, tennis players who only develop acceleration will excel at one movement for a swing, but will have difficulty changing direction, which will weaken subsequent shots.
If you have a young athlete — or more than one — who spends a great deal of time on practice drills, consider introducing the concept of deceleration into their training. Most likely, their knees will thank you in the long run.
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