One of the first things I do as a Pilates instructor is observe a person’s posture. Good posture is the position of the body that puts the least stress on the muscles, joints, and ligaments when sitting, standing, or lying down. The spinal column is the foundation the body supports itself on. When you look at it from the side, you can see that there are three main curves in it.
The neck (cervical) region and lower back (lumbar) region of the spine have inward curves. The mid-back (thoracic) region has an outward curve. These curves have a normal angle, which is the neutral position of the spine. Maintaining this neutral position puts the least stress on the back and neck.
If you slouch while sitting or standing, you lose the normal inward curve in your lower back. You also increase the curving in the mid-back and neck area. Doing so puts undue stress on the whole spine, because it over-stretches some muscles while tightening others. Also, your head isn’t resting on top of your body then. This forward head position fatigues the neck muscles, leading to increased tension and pain. In good sitting or standing posture the head and upper body are balanced on top of the lower back and pelvis, maintaining the normal curves of the spine. This minimizes the stress on the muscles, ligaments, and spinal discs.
Maintaining good posture requires you to be aware of what good posture is and how it feels. Also, you need the strength and (more importantly) the flexibility to achieve the proper position.
Continue reading Have you Looked at Your Posture Today?
“There are many reasons why people develop Fibromyalgia, but no one really knows. But we do know physical exercise as a management tool for this very debilitating condition, is key to controlling ones pain.”
Let’s face the facts. Despite over four decades of the so-called “exercise revolution” in the United States, the traditional model for getting people more physically active (i.e., a structured exercise program) has been only marginally effective. In fact, recent reports from the Department of Health and Human Services as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that approximately 70 percent of American adults are not physically active on a regular basis, and 25 percent of the adult population engage in no structured physical activity at all. To understand why people sometimes lack the motivation for regular physical activity, one must first acknowledge a simple yet important fact: exercise is time consuming. Therefore, structured exercise may extend the day or compete with other valued interests and responsibilities of daily life.
Fibromyalgia patients face an additional challenge–the initial increase in pain and stiffness immediately after exercising. Consequently, many mistakenly believe that exercise actually worsens their condition. In fact, 83 percent of patients who have FM do not engage in regular aerobic exercise, and most of those tested have below average fitness levels. Some sobering reports also suggest that many individuals with FM have aerobic fitness levels of healthy individuals who are twice their age! Yikes!!
Continue reading Movement & Exercise: Best Management Tools for Fibromyalgia
If you’re doing no exercise at the present time, start by exercising at a mild-to-moderate intensity for 5 to 10 minutes at a time, 3 or more times per week. That may not sound like much – but if you go from doing nothing to doing this amount of exercise, and gradually increase the intensity, frequency, and duration of activity, you’ll improve your health more than a person who goes from running 30 miles per week to running 40 miles a week.
How could this be? Recent pioneering research has shown that people who don’t exercise at all (we refer to them as the least active, least fit – or the bottom 20 percent) have the greatest risk of developing cardiovascular problems and other chronic diseases. If you get out of this “high risk” category by doing even a modest amount of exercise each week, you’ll substantially decrease your risk for a heart attack or stroke and increase you quality of life.
How does Pilates fit into this discussion? How does Pilates follow the principle of inertia? A body at rest tends to remain at rest and a body in motion tends to remain in motion. Pilates is movement; movement is life. It is a practice of moving, breathing, becoming stronger and more mobile!
Continue reading A Call To Action: Start Pilates Gradually – But Start!