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The 6 Guiding Principles of Pilates

Pilates is a dynamic, multi-faceted, mind-body movement method. As a Pilates practitioner, you will find that the longer you practice, the deeper your practice will take you.  If you will think back to when you first started your Pilates practice, you may remember feeling awkward with the equipment and how to move your body.  The way we align our bodies and how we engage our muscles during a Pilates session is meant to help bring the body back into balance and proper alignment.

At fist, just getting used to how the equipment moves and where to put our hands and feet, etc can feel disorienting so in the beginning, the focus is on just getting used to the equipment (including the Mat!) and the bigger muscle movements of the exercise and engaging the core.  As we become more comfortable and we have learned proper engagement of the core for initiating movement and stabilization, we begin to go deeper into alignment, full body engagement, and what are referred to as the Six Guiding Principles of Pilates.
These include:

Concentration
Centering
Control
Breathing
Precision
Flowing Movement

Concentration
Pilates is a complex system. Every movement should engage the whole body from head to toe. During a Pilates movement we are being aware of our imbalances, and then lengthening, stretching, engaging to bring the body into balance. This often requires moving the body and
engaging muscles in ways that are not our habitual way of moving, so without concentration we will just continue to move the body in old patterns and we will not reap the benefits and change that Pilates is intended for.

Centering
All movement comes from the center of the body. Even if we are simply moving our hand, the body first stabilizes the spine, and then movement emanates into the extremities.  This is why proper engagement of our core is the first thing we learn in Pilates. When our center is not strong the rest of our body can not be in alignment (Ah! that is a whole other blog post!) In Pilates we refer to our core as the Powerhouse, and the Powerhouse includes our low abdominals, or Transverse Abdominus, our low back, our glutes, and our inner thighs.  Often in class you will hear the cue to draw in and up your centerline. This means to engage your Powerhouse and lengthen your spine, bringing your focus to creating a long, strong center.

Control
When Joseph Pilates was teaching, it was not called, Pilates. He called it “Contrology”, which means the study of control.  In Pilates, every movement is with intention and every movement is an exercise.  Because we have spent so many years living in our bodies without thought of how to properly support and move the body, we have developed many imbalances, many of which we do not even notice but they greatly affect our bodies’ health and efficiency. For example, we tend to sit a lot in our culture – at our desks, in our cars, and on our sofas. This can cause our hip-flexors to become tight. When the hip-flexors become too tight, they “shut off” the reciprocal muscles, or the muscles on the other side of the joint. In this case, that would be the glutes.  The glutes are a very big muscle and when they stop working properly and stop engaging when they should, the body compensates by recruiting other muscles to do the work that the glutes should be doing. Now the body starts trying to get the rotator muscles of the hip to do the work that the glutes should be doing. However, the rotators have a different function and therefore their axis of rotation and movements are different. They are also much smaller than the glutes so the load put on them is more than they were intended to bear.  Soon, these smaller muscles become overworked and aggravated, and an aggravated muscle stays in a state of contraction. This causes decreased circulation and adhesions to form in the muscle.
Now we have pain 🙁
So it is important, especially during a Pilates session, to bring our focus and Concentration back to proper muscle engagement and control of movement.

Breathing
Breathing is what brings oxygen to the cells and flushes many toxins and waste from the body. If we do not exhale deeply, we do not empty the lungs of waste and, we cannot inhale completely.  The breath is often a component that enhances an exercise, for example, by increasing pressure in the abdominal cavity which helps to stabilize the spine. And often an exercise has a component of strengthening the breath, such as wringing out the lungs during twisting movements.  In Pilates, we do not use percussive or unnatural breathing as Joseph Pilates believed that if the breath can remain deep and calm while the body experiences the stress of exercise, then in our daily lives when we experience other types of stress, whether physical, emotional, or mental, our breathing will remain deep and calm helping to reduce the strains of stress.

Precision
Precision is like combining Concentration and Control. Bringing precision to your movement is to engage the intended muscles to their fullest, and to perform the exercise cleanly and to the best of your ability without sloppy extraneous movements. In Pilates, every movement has a purpose.

Flowing Movement
When thinking of Pilates, think of “effort with ease”. We move the body with intention, purpose, and precision, but never with tension.  Each Pilates exercise should have a fluidity and grace that reflects this and each exercise should flow into the next. This is one of the reasons why proper transitioning from one exercise to the next is so important.  Our workout should feel like one continuous exercise with each movement flowing smoothly into the next, never losing our connections or engagement, and all the while maintaining our focus.

As you begin to memorize the routine of the exercises so that you can move through your session without stopping, and deepen your practice of these six guiding principles, your practice will become a meditation in movement and will reveal much more to you than just a beautiful, strong body!

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How Can Posture Alignment Therapy Help Me?

Posture Alignment Therapy brings the body back to its functional design, eliminates pain at it’s root, and gives you the best body to bring to your activities.

Almost all of us – whether because of an injury, repetitive motion without realigning the body, or lack of awareness of our poor postural habits, have fallen away from the body’s natural design for optimal functioning. In your Posture Alignment sessions, we will look at your current posture through photographs, gait (walking) analysis videos, and function tests. Together we will come to a greater understanding of what is happening in your alignment and how it is affecting your well-being, athletic performance, or causing pain such as headaches, neck pain, back pain, shoulder pain, carpal tunnel, hip pain, sciatica, knee pain, plantar fasciitis, bunions, joint degeneration, and more.

In Posture Alignment Therapy, we understand that the body is a unit that is connected head to toe, and although you may be experiencing the symptom of pain in one area of your body, the cause of the pain is almost always somewhere else in the chain. If the root cause of the pain is not addressed, then masking the pain with pills, injections, and even surgeries will never be effective.

Pain relief is not the only reason to use Posture Alignment Therapy!

If you workout, hike, run, or play a sport, an aligned body will enhance your performance. Tight, weak, and imbalanced muscles, and misaligned joints don’t allow for full range of motion or proper muscle recruitment. A regular routine of Posture Alignment exercises will bring your body back into balance so that all of your skeletal muscles are flexible, toned, balanced, and perform correctly and the joints are properly aligned allowing for full range of motion, stability make sure that you bring your best body to the game and get the most from your workouts!

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Fascia Restoration and Posture Alignment Therapy – The Perfect Combination

 

Fascia – our internal connective tissue, is sticky, and one of it’s many functions is to help stabilize the body when there is an imbalance, by binding together to form a stronger structure. Fascia, however, doesn’t only stick to itself, but it can bind to our organs -such as our digestive tract, muscle fibers, and bind muscle group to muscle group (for example binding your glutes to your hamstrings and thereby restricting movement, function, and power of both muscle groups). However, if the fascia stays bound then the body can’t return to its functional alignment and performance. Think of a cast on a broken limb. The cast serves a purpose, but prolonged use of the cast also causes muscle atrophy, reduced circulation and nerve innervation, and reduced range of motion and flexibility. Because of this, other muscles and joints begin to take on the work of the bound and limited area.

Fascia Restoration Therapy not only releases these adhesions, but also improves circulation bringing oxygen and nutrients to our skin, hair, organs, brain, muscles, and bones and helps our body eliminate toxins from our cells.

This is why Posture Alignment Therapy and Fascial Restoration Therapy are such a great combination. By keeping your fascia healthy through Fascia Restoration Therapy and your body in alignment with easy Posture Alignment exercises you can increase circulation, reduce inflammation and toxic buildup, improve muscle tone, strength and function, improve joint mobility and function, get better results from your workouts, improve your athletic performance, and support your recovery process, be free of headaches and migraines, sinus issues, neck pain, frozen shoulder, bursitis, bulging discs, back pain, sciatica, IT band pain, knee pain, plantar fasciitis, bunions (and more!), and get rid of cellulite (which is simply subcutaneous fat being pushed through a layer of bound up fascia).

At Inner Strength Alignment Studio, we offer Posture Alignment Therapy, corrective and rehabilitative exercises, Fascial Stretch Therapy, and Fascia Restoration Therapy.

 

 

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Interview with Pete Egoscue

Click on the link below to hear a wonderful podcast interview with Pete Egoscue. Pete talks about how the Egoscue Method began, what Egoscue is, and what sets it apart from other modalities, he even gives a mini impromptu session. Great to hear from Pete himself Egoscue’s philosophy of health and well-being.

http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/1/f/9/1f9620904e400611/TOG08920Pete20Egoscue.mp3?c_id=15151091&expiration=1501822766&hwt=fafe5b58696baeca5fa1f008d7906806#.WYDLr4DR3x4.facebook

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Do you have pain?

Do you have headaches? Shoulder tension? Wrist pain or carpel tunnel pain? Back pain? Hip Pain? Sciatica? Knee pain? Bunions? Plantar fasciitis?

Did you know that all of these are related to your posture?

Muscles are what move the bones and for most of us we have, over time and unknowingly, allowed our muscles to lose their balance, tone, and proper functioning, thus pulling our posture out of alignment.

For example, most of us sit… at our desk, in our car, and on our couch – slumped into our low back. This causes the pelvis to tuck under and the arch in our low back to be pulled flat.

Our arm movement is usually limited to a small area in front of our body as we work on our computer or at our desk, drive our car, and click our remote. Rarely do we lift our arms overhead, out to the sides or behind us.

Our muscles get used to these positions and limited use, and some become weak, others become tight, and they lose their ability to bring the skeleton back to its proper posture.

Because our bodies function as a unit, when one thing gets pulled out of place, everything must readjust. As our shoulders begin to fall down the front of our body due to our slumped posture and arms reaching in front, our upper back becomes rounded and our head juts forward. Because our pelvis is no longer in its neutral position, our thigh bones now sit differently in the hip joint – which affects what muscles get used in our hips as we walk and move and how our knees and feet are positioned.

This does not happen overnight, but rather slowly over time.

One of the most common things I hear when I speak with people is, “That’s just my posture.” That may be now, but it is not the posture you were designed to have and it is not the posture that supports you to be fully functional and free in your body. Even if you are active, go to the gym, do cardio, lift weights, go to spin class, hike, etc., if you are bringing a misaligned body to these activities, you will simply be increasing your muscle imbalances and will be more prone to injury.

A regular posture alignment routine will rebalance your body and return it to its natural design.

Make an appointment today to find out how your posture is affecting your body. We will do a posture and gait analysis and design a program tailored just for you to bring YOUR body back to its functional, pain-free alignment.

What would your life be like if you were pain-free?

Contact the studio today and start living your life!

 

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Is Posture Therapy only for Pain?

Absolutely not! Don’t wait until you are experiencing pain to begin your posture alignment therapy. A balanced, functionally aligned posture is the foundation for a youthful, vibrant, flexible body.

Age isn’t what slows our bodies down and starts the creaking and cracking, it’s lack of movement and alignment. Keeping your body aligned and active is a big part of maintaining a balanced metabolism, healthy heart and lungs, oxygen-rich circulation, strong bones, and flexible muscles, joints, and spine.

Maybe you sit all day – at a desk, commuting in your car, on your couch…. Having a regular Posture Alignment routine can help keep you from becoming the modern day hunchback of Notre Dame, slumped in your lower back, shoulders rounded, and head lurching forward.

Do you workout? Lift weights at the gym? Run? Swim? Play a sport? Our bodies are meant to MOVE and they love it when we do! Playing golf shouldn’t leave you with a sore back, hip, or shoulders. It’s not the activity that you are doing, but the body you bring to it that causes pain. A misaligned body won’t support you well during your activity and the activity itself will take you deeper into your misalignmnets. A body that isn’t aligned and functioning properly will be more prone to injuries and have a harder time recovering from exertion or injury. A regular Posture Alignment routine will keep your body working properly so that no matter what activity you are doing you will bring your best you to the game!