Tag Archives: lowback pain

Getting the most out of your pilates class

Good alignment is important – your pilates class is a chance to retrain muscle habits. Quick posture checks before and during any movement can help you avoid injury and get maximum benefit from your class. Here is what you need to know:

  1. Stand up straight. When I ask you to stand up tall, that means keeping your:
  • chin parallel to the floor
  • shoulders even (roll them up, back, and down to help achieve this)
  • arms at your sides, elbows relaxed and even
  • abdominal muscles pulled in
  • hips even and level
  • neutral pelvis, natural curve of lumbar spine present, with ASIS* & pubic bone in same plane
  • body weight evenly distributed on both feet.

*ASIS = anterior superior iliac crest (or front and top of your hips)

  1. Strive for neutral.

Neutral alignment means keeping your body in a straight line from head to toe except for the slight natural curves of the spine. Whether you’re standing or seated, that means your spine is not flexed (to flatten lumbar) or 2015-08-27 18.27.01arched (to overemphasise the curve of the lower back.)

One means of finding neutral is to tip your pelvis forward as far as is comfortable, then tip it backward as far as is comfortable. Neutral is roughly in the middle. If you’re not used to standing or sitting up straight, it may take a while for this to feel natural.

Note: if you have an exaggerated lumbar curve (anterior pelvic tilt or ‘lumbar lordosis’), you should strive to go beyond neutral and tilt towards a posterior pelvic tilt to stretch and decompress the lower back. Also, if weak the abdominals, it helps to tilt the pelvis to achieve stability when legs are raised from the lying-on-your-back postion.

  1. Focus on angles

Think back to set squares in school. Visualise a 90-degree angle as the letter ‘L’. I often refer to a 90-degee or 45-degree angle for where your legs may be in relation to your torso. Mentally slice the 90-degree angle in half for 45 degrees.

It all takes time and practice. Take a few moments each day to practice better posture – even weight on both feet; roll shoulders up, back and down; lift through crown of head; abs gently contracted, sensing your centre as you quieten yourself through your breath.

Digging and clearing

Protect your back when gardening!

This is the time of year when gardens promise both home-grown food and fantastic floral displays. It’s easy to get over-enthusiastic and overdo it.

Today I dug up many giant daisies, montbretia and other perennials  that I had planted a few years ago in this prime spot in the garden near the house. I am reclaiming this sunny bed for green veggies!

I remind myself constantly to be pilates aware while in the garden, whether preparing a bed, sowing seeds or shifting stuff around in a wheelbarrow (…that’s what I seem to do most!). Here are some tips for gardening without pain:

* Make sure you are comfortable in your body and relaxed before you even begin. I highly recommend pilates roll-down to tune in to your spine before you head out!

*  Take a good long drink of water. Remember, we all thrive on more hydration than is habitual to take.

* Be sure you are wearing shoes with good support, so you can feel grounded through both feet. Digging, planting, weeding tend to be asymmetrical movements that favour one limb or side. So, return frequently to stand upright on both feet and sense where your head and shoulders are.

* A gardener’s body weight is often bent over at the hips, putting a great deal of strain on back muscles. It’s better to squat than to bend the back. Focus on maintaining a neutral spine by squatting down to ground level, rather than rounding the spine.

* Lift the right way. Between lifting bags of potting compost or transporting newly-potted planters, there is a lot of lifting in gardening. Remember – do not lift with your back; engage your abs and let your legs do the work!

* Mix it up. If you find yourself in the same position for too long, switch activities for a while and come back to it.

*  Set a stretch reminder In the garden, it’s easy to get so involved with what you are doing that you forget to use your full body. Take breaks during your work to stretch and move around.

*   If any low back pain persists after gardening (or any time), the best thing is to lie down on a mat on your back with your knees bent and your two feet flat on the mat. Get your neck and shoulders relaxed and spend about 20 minutes in this pilates rest position.

images

Hope to share pics of my own greens later on! Happy gardening folks!