Farnham Pilates – Stronger Saturday – Focus on Lifestyle for Bone Health

Bone density and lifestyle

This month at Farnham Pilates we’ve been focusing on helping clients improve their bone density and bone health. This week we look at lifestyle changes you can make to improve your bone health. These assume you do not have problems with your bones; if you do, please talk to your GP about anything new you would like to try.

Exercise

Activities like swimming and cycling are great for cardio fitness but they are not weight bearing so they won’t help your bone density. This is why a variety of exercises is best for overall health. Great weight bearing activities include:

  • Walking
  • Running
  • Dancing
  • Climbing
  • Skipping
  • Jumping up and down on the spot.

What else can you do?

Try to fit weight bearing exercise into everyday life:

  • Use the stairs rather than the lift
  • Try to keep moving throughout the day
  • When getting up from sitting or lying down, take your weight through your legs rather than using your arms to push you up
  • Do up and down exercise on the loo every time you go
  • Fit in five press-ups while you boil the kettle.

Take a look at my mum’s morning exercises here https://vimeo.com/349833103.  She does this two-minute routine each morning for flexibility and for bone health.

Try to reduce stress

Another way to look after your bones is to reduce stress in your life. Stress increases cortisol levels in your blood, in turn blood sugar levels increase which makes calcium levels in urine go up. Of course, none of us can avoid stress all the time, but it is useful to identify what situations make you feel stressed and work out ways to avoid them. I have done this and now:

  • I try to plan better so that I am not late.
  • I write to-do lists and shopping lists so that I don’t forget things or have to do two trips.
  • I keep a notepad by my bed so that if I think of something important, I can write it down and then forget about it.
  • I avoid reading emails just before I go to bed.
  • If I get stressed, I try to go for a walk (otherwise I would eat biscuits!

Next week in our final blog on bone density, we look at the Pilates exercises that can aid good bone health.

Squeeze and breathe,

Love Hannah x

Recipe of the week for strong bones – Mushroom Risotto

RECIPE OF THE WEEK

Mushroom risotto

INGREDIENTS

 Mushroom preparation

1 8-ounce package Crimini or baby Bella mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of salt

Rice preparation

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup onion, diced
1 cup dry Arborio rice
1/3 cup dry white wine
2 ½ cups of chicken stock – Hom,e made if you can
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste


INSTRUCTIONS

  1. To prepare the mushrooms, clean the mushrooms by brushing them off (avoid washing with water) and cut into quarters (stems may be left on).
  2. In a medium sauté pan, melt the one tablespoon each of butter and olive oil. Add the cleaned and quartered mushrooms and sauté over medium-high heat until lightly browned, stirring frequently. (Note – it’s important to sauté the mushrooms over somewhat high heat in order to get the mushrooms to release their moisture without steaming.) Once the mushrooms are lightly browned and tender and plump, sprinkle lightly with just a touch of salt and allow to sauté for another minute more – this step will release just a bit more of the moisture in the mushrooms. Remove the mushrooms from the heat and set aside.
  3. To prepare the rice, in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter and olive oil together over medium-high heat. Add the diced onion and sauté for 5 minutes, until the onions are translucent.
  4. Add the Arborio rice, stirring frequently for 2-3 minutes until the rice is just starting to turn lightly golden.
  5. Quickly pour in the white wine and allow the liquid to boil and be absorbed into the rice. Then pour in ¼ cup of chicken stock to the rice, stirring constantly. (If necessary, adjust the heat under the pot – you want a medium simmer.) Add more stock ¼ cup at a time – adding more stock just as most but not all of the liquid has been absorbed before adding in more stock.)
  6.  Cook the rice and stock together in this manner for approximately 25 minutes or so – until the rice is tender but not mushy. Turn the heat off when there is still some liquid remaining in the rice and stir in the Parmesan cheese and mushrooms and salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine completely.
  7. Remove from heat and cover – let sit for 5 minutes before serving.
  8. Note: Risotto may be reheated by adding in some additional chicken stock and stirring to incorporate into the risotto.

Yum….ENJOY!

Best Foods for strong Bones from Farnham Pilates

Farnham Pilates Weekly Blog –
Get Stronger Saturday

Best foods for strong bones

Here is your weekly post on Bone health.

A few Osteoporosis/Bone Health Facts and Figures
Bone remodelling is a lifelong process, but unfortunately bone loss starts to outpace bone gain as we age.  This starts to happen around aged 34 when peak bone mass is achieved for most people….this is not an ‘old person’s issue’!   The decline in oestrogen production also has a negative impact on bone remodelling activity for both sexes – this isn’t, as many think, a ‘female only ‘ issue.  Men are less susceptible to developing osteoporosis but their stats are still pretty compelling.

·         The first 3-5 years following the onset of menopause are associated with an accelerated period of bone mass loss before the decline, settling to a more linear decline as menopause progresses.  Most women are hitting Peri-Menopause in their late 40’s and Menopause in their early 50’s.
·         As bone mass declines and the threshold for osteoporosis is approached and exceeded, the risk of fractures to the hip, spine and other fall fractures is also greatly increased.
·         In the UK and the US 1 in 2 women and 1 in 5 men over 50 will experience a fracture.
·         Research by the National Osteoporosis Society estimates that the daily cost of caring for those who experience disability due to hip fractures is somewhere in the region of £6 Million PER DAY!!
·         The mortality rate for those who experience hip fracture increases by 20% in the 12 months post fracture.
·         There are actually more ‘fragility fractures’ – (300,00)  in  the UK than strokes (275,000)  and heart attacks (110,000)
·         Hip fractures cause the most morbidity with reported mortality rates up to 20-24% in the first year after a hip fracture, and greater risk of dying may persist for at least 5 years afterwards. Loss of function and independence among survivors is profound, with 40% unable to walk independently, 60% requiring assistance a year later. Because of these losses, 33% are totally dependent or in a nursing home in the year following a hip fracture.
·         A 50 year old woman has a 2.8% risk of death related to hip fracture during her remaining lifetime, equivalent to her risk of death from breast cancer.
·         Studies have shown that bone mineral density in postmenopausal women can be maintained or increased with therapeutic exercise.

How diet can help increase bone density for strong bones

Here at Farnham Pilates we marked World Osteoporosis Day with a bone density health check for all Pilates clients. This week we are looking at ways your diet can make a difference to your bone health.

Calcium is vital to bone health and vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. This is why food supplements often pair them together. If you would rather not take food supplements, consider adjusting your diet to include calcium-rich foods.

Calcium-rich foods

If you tolerate it, including cows’ milk and milk products in your diet is a great way to improve bone density. Other calcium-rich foods include:

  • Figs
  • Plums
  • Dark, leafy greens
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Almonds
  • Molasses.

Good sources of vitamin D: 

  • oily fish, such as salmon, sardines and mackerel 
  • eggs 
  • fortified fat spreads 
  • fortified breakfast cereals 
  • some powdered milks 

If you’ve been diagnosed with osteoporosis, your doctor may prescribe calcium and vitamin D supplements as well as osteoporosis drug treatments if they have concerns that your calcium intake may be low.Extra tips –
– Cook soups using bone broth from Sunday’s chicken (cook the bones and use as the stock!). I also use miso which is good for skin. 
– It’s also helpful to reduce your caffeine intake (caffeine affects how the body absorbs calcium) and to eat a healthy amount of protein every day.
– Reduce salt – excess salt is excreted in the urine along with calcium.
– Alcohol – Chronic alcohol consumption increases level of the parathyroid hormone, which leads to a leaching of calcium from bone; alcohol also has a role in decreasing osteoblast (the bone-making cell) formation.
– Check medications such as steroids – steroids can cause Steroid Induced Osteoporosis
– Reduce high sugar drinks – as phosphoric acid – found in Coca-Cola type drinks has been linked to lower bone density in some epidemiological studies – great information in this blog via Healthy But Smart and it’s also been included in a discussion in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
– Smoking – Research also suggests that smoking impedes the hormone calcitonin, which helps build bones; Nicotine and free radicals generated whilst smoking destroy ssteoblasts.
– Excess Sugar + Diabetes – High blood sugar slows new bone formation, accelerates bone resorption and impairs fracture healing.

Next week we will look at lifestyle changes you can make to improve your bone health. 

Squeeze and breathe 
Hannah

Weekly recipe – Warming Butternut squash or Pumpkin with Cauliflower soup with ginger and chillies

RECIPE OF THE WEEK

My favourite soup – Butternut Squash or pumpkin & Cauliflower Soup with Ginger and Chillies

Now the weather is getting colder this is my staple soup recipe. It is always slightly different each time depending on what is left over in the fridge but it’s packed full of brain boosting and bone strengthening ingredients and its quick and easy.

Top tip: keep your fresh ginger in the freezer, then grate it directly in to the soup, skin and all. I use a parmesan grater resting across the pan of the bubbling soup as the steam helps defrost the ginger slightly making it easier to grate.

Ingredients
1 medium butternut squash or pumpkin
1 onion
2 celery sticks
2 carrots
1/2 cauliflower
2 large handfuls of washed spinach
2 large garlic cloves
1 red chilli, seeds removed (or chuck seeds in too if you like it spicy)
2-3 inches of grated ginger (more if you like it more gingery.. if that’s a word?!)
1.5 litres chicken stock (bone broth or veg stock if you are vegetarian)

Method
1. Prepare all your vegetables, I chop the celery and onion fairly finely, the rest of them can be chopped chunky fashion.
2. Fry the onion and celery on a medium heat for a few minutes until softened, don’t let them burn.
3. Keeping the heat fairly low add the crushed garlic and chillies. Fry for a few minutes.
4. Meanwhile boil the kettle and prepare your stock.
5. Add all the other prepared vegetables. Cook over a medium low heat coating everything in the oniony garlicky mixture.
6. Add 1 litre of the stock and stir, add more if need be.
7. Get your ginger (either from the freezer, see tip above) or fresh and grate it in to the soup mixture, I love ginger so you can do as much as you like really. 
8. Simmer for 20 minutes. Check if the vegetables are cooked.
9. Let it cool for a bit then get an electric whizzer and blend it all together. Add a bit more stock if the consistency is too thick.
10. Roughly chop the spinach and add this to the mixture with a good few twists of black pepper. Give it a stir and leave to wilt in the soup mixture for a few minutes. 
11. Serve immediately or leave to cool and freeze later. You can add a blob of creme fresche too with some chopped parsley, chives or coriander to give it extra zing.

Pilates keeps your bones strong

Welcome all, 
Here is your weekly post to get your body and mind motivated for the week ahead. Each week we’ll send out exercises and a healthy recipe for you to focus on and why. If you have any specific areas of your body that you would like exercises for please message me and I will try and include it in the next email ….see below for why you need to strengthen your bones.

Bone Density – why it matters and how Pilates can help

My friend fell over and broke her wrist last month so I’ve focussed on increasing bone density this month in the Pilates classes. Do you know if your bones in good shape?

Does bone density matter?

Bone density is the amount of bone mineral in bone tissue. Too little can mean you are more likely to suffer from broken bones – a condition called osteoporosis. The risk of this increases post menopause so it’s worth taking note early and looking after your bones. This can be done with a good diet and with weight bearing exercise.
If you are concerned about your bone density – perhaps you have had a post-menopause fracture or there is family history – ask your GP about a bone density scan. If you have thyroid problems, talk to your GP as some conditions can affect bone density.

What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis means ‘porous bones’ and those with the condition have low bone mass or brittle bones. This can lead to fractures, especially in the spine and hips. Osteopenia is a pre-cursor to osteoporosis. If there is any doubt about your bone health, you must inform your Pilates teacher who can modify your exercise programme for you. [or: let me know so that I can modify your exercise programme for you.]

What affects bone density?

The process of bone formation begins in the womb and continues until late adolescence – this is when it is crucial to have enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet. But what if your adolescence is a distant memory? Is it too late to look after your bones? There is not arguing that good nutrition in childhood contributes enormously to healthy bones, however there is plenty you can do to improve your bone health. 

Two quick exercises – 
Press up  – on your hands and knees and push down and up to strengthen your arms! Repeat 8 times, rest and repeat.

Swimming – on your hands and knees. Shoulders over your hands and hips over your knees, engage your core and lengthen you right hand and left leg away keeping your torso still. Repeat 6 times each side.

In my next blog, I talk about changes you can make to your diet to improve your bone health but see below for a great bone and skin strengthening receipt with bone broth!

Get to know your Pelvic Floor

The Pelvic Floor is a vital muscle in your body. It underpins your bowel, bladder and the uterus, and supports your back and spine. Refer to the picture which shows the muscles that stretch like a hammock from the front to the back of your pelvis. When these muscles are strong and healthy they give us complete control and support over our bodily functions and help contribute to satisfying sex. The muscles consist of 2 types fast and slow twitch and require you to strengthen them fast and slowly to support your core!

Pelvic Floor

In the absence of exercise, simply getting older brings muscle deterioration. But childbirth, pushing on the loo, hysterectomy, menopause, lack of oestrogen and muscle tone, obesity, bad breathing habits, excessive coughing, poor posture, weak gluts, stress, and high impact exercise like running, jumping and weight lifting can also contribute to a weak and ineffective Pelvic Floor (Stats show high reports of female fitpros with weakness).

Leaking urine is embarrassing, inconvenient and happens to one in three women due to a weak Pelvic Floor. Showing signs when you cough, sneeze, laugh, run or exercise, not reaching the loo in time, or struggling to control yourself and at worst a prolapse (suffered by millions of women) which can contribute to bad posture, back and neck pain and can take away our freedom and confidence to enjoy an active life.

Pelvic floor strength test and Isolating and functional exercises?
PF restoration and maintenance exercises are incorporated in many Pilates classes. They effectively start with isolating the muscles then incorporate your core – diaphragm, deep abdominals and deep back muscles. If dysfunctional you need to start with the basic exercises to learn to isolate the muscles but if you have no problems just keep mobile and do the following 3 functional exercises. The functional and movement based exercises can be 70% more effective than just kegel /pelvic floor exercises (research by Dr. Bruce Crawford Pfilates (Urogynecologist).as they incorporate the muscles which work to provide stability to the pelvis, pelvic floor and maintain your posture and alignment : gluteus minimus, the hip adductors, and deep hip rotators. During my Pilates classes we advise you to breath out on the exertion and when you start to engage the PF muscles. Ideally you’ll do these exercises for the rest of your life anytime, anywhere.

POSITION -Neutral posture (check in the mirror) either seated (don’t cross legs as you can use your gluts/ buttock muscles) or lie down on your back, bend your knees and keep your feet flat (If pregnant lie on your side), then …

To test the strength:
1. Stop your wee mid flow on the loo (only do this once or you’ll risk getting a bladder infection).
2. Tighten the muscles around your vagina and back passage and lift inwards and upwards. Count how long you can hold for, then completely relax the muscles. Aim to hold for 10 secs. The Chartered Society of Physiotherapists recommends you practice this contraction just before you get out of a chair, cough, and sneeze or laugh to increase support and to retrain a weak pelvic floor.

Exercises to isolate the pelvic floor:
3. Fast Pelvic Floor contractions: Lift quickly -like an on / off switch hold for one second. Repeat 10 reps
4. Slow Pelvic floor controlled contractions: Imagine your PF muscles are an elevator at the ground floor of a building. As you contract and breathe out, imagine the elevator rising, slowly, to the second and third floor. Release slowly as the imaginary elevator lowers to each floor and returns to the starting position. Breathe in and relax completely.)Repeat 10 reps and hold for 8-10 seconds. This increases endurance for impact activities (eg trampoline, running and weight lifting).

POSITION– Lie on your back with your hips and knees bent, find a neutral curve in your lower back, engage your pelvic floor and lower abdominals on each exercise.

1. Pelvic tilt: Gently rock your pelvis forward and back (anterior then posterior pelvic tilt). As you rock back breathe out and pull in your PF and abdominal muscles, feel your low back pressing and hold 30-60 seconds. This mobilises and lubricates the joints of the spine and hips, improves and increases
blood flow, combines deep breathing and pf activation.
2. Inner thigh squeeze: place a pillow or ball between the knees and squeeze repeat 10. To progress lift and straighten legs towards ceiling, open, exhale then close and squeeze repeat 10. Aim to strengthen your deep abdominals, hip flexors, and inner thigh muscles.
3. Curl up: Engage pelvic floor, breathe out pull in your belly button and lift head * 5. Aim to improve core strength. (if Diastasis rectus hug arms across chest and gently pull hands towards each other.
4. Stretch inner thighs: Hug knees in to relax the back and rock then open the knees wide, hold 30 secs.

POSITION- Standing
1. Squats 1: legs wide push bottom back as if going to sit back on a chair. Repeat 10-50. Aim to stretch and strengthen core, bottom and legs and lower back.
2. Squats 2: Slowly lower yourself down into a deep squat bottom near your heels (you may need to hold onto the back of a chair for support). Place a pillow behind your knees (to take some pressure off the knee joints) or remove for a deeper hip and thigh stretch and stand with your heels on a firm cushion. Do not let your back round or your tailbone tuck under. Lengthen your spine and lift your heart, maintaining a neutral spine position. Hold 30 secs repeat 3. (Feet flat is harder).
3. Squats repeat above with PF squeezes (PF muscles are slightly lengthened so a good position to really sense the contraction and relaxation against gravity. Repeat 5-10, fully relax between repetitions.

This term at Farnham Pilates one of our focusses is Pelvic Floor. Take a look at our classes page for more details.

Small is beautiful – benefits of small Pilates classes

small pilates classesAfter Easter I’m moving all the classes to the Garden studio. After 10 years of teaching I really feel that in the smaller classes clients get more individual attention and we can focus the class on particular problems and help with assisted stretching. Here is some feedback from my students on the smaller classes we provide and also my top reasons why small classes are beautiful.

 

Feedback from students  – 

 

“It is so great having classes in the studio especially after the years of attending the rowledge village hall, the studio is lovely and warm, and in smaller classes you get individual attention I feel I can focus on me more. With it being so much calmer, quieter, peaceful and relaxing I find I can really focus on my body and area we are working on and I find it better to help me use the pelvic floor (I need all the help I can get to find it). Another major advantage is parking feels so much safer as I park on school road. So I don’t regret moving to this lovely private space!” Jenny

 

“I just want to say thank you for the class I feel it is just what I need” Catherine 

 

Benefits of small classes or personal training – 
1. More Personal attention from the teacher– In a smaller class the teacher can see when you are out of alignment or need more support on a particular move.
2. Faster improvement in a smaller class – I remember peoples strength and weakness and can see the improvement quicker in a smaller class.
3. Quality of class – I’m continually trying to update and improve the classes and the class structure and the studio has made a massive difference to the quality of the class as the teacher has to pay more attention to each person and their problems in a smaller class.
4. Relationship building between teacher and class – means the atmosphere is great (sometimes too much chatting but you still get a good class).
5. Greater focus for you – in a small class you can’t hide or get away with doing nothing!
6. More fun – great rapport in class creating camaraderie and often class members become friends.
7. Accountability – in a smaller class everyone remembers who was there, so you become accountable to attend each week and more likely to develop a regular routine.
8. You are more likely to stay motivated during class. 
9. Less injury – larger classes can cause an injury as the teacher can’t see if you doing the exercise precisely.
10. If confused you are more likely to ask a question and check the exercise in a smaller class.

 

Please remember all feedback is welcome and I look forward to seeing you in the Garden Studio soon. Full timetable can be found here

Secrets to becoming a better runner

better runner

 

As many of you will know I am training to run the London Marathon next month in aid of backcare.org. I won’t lie, it has been hard to keep motivated and train, especially during the long winter months, so I thought I would share some of the techniques that have helped me stay motivated to KEEP RUNNING and some of the stretches that have helped me become a better runner.

1) I joined a ladies running group in my village and you get a message every day of who is running so keeping company and chatting while you run keeps me going.

2) Getting my husband and family involved to run with me. My husband’s great at getting up at 6am to run – I would not do it on my own.

3) I have to run in the morning when I’m in the right clothes and before my body knows what I’m doing!

4) I set up a Training plan on my I-phone using apps Strava and My Asics and get reminders of how far I have to run.

5) Organising fundraising events. Everyone helping and supporting me is so motivating as I can’t let you all down.

6) I also have a Personal trainer once a week to push me and check my alignment, stretch me, check that I’m doing it right as sometimes yourself you can’t tell and show me exercises I might not know. I believe it is good to go to someone else and be the participant not just the teacher.

Here are my secrets to becoming a better runner

I know you all ask me in class – “how is your running going”? Well I won’t say it’s easy to stay motivated but it helped this week having the lighter mornings as it is very hard to get/stay motivated early in the morning and when its raining, (and as I’m writing this its hailing – I’m not going out in that!!!) Once I’m up in my running clothes I want to get going first thing, once kids dropped to school, and tick my run off on my weekly schedule! What has really surprised me with all the online research and Womens Running articles I’ve read is that I’ve realised I should stick to 3/4 runs a week and do MORE strength work. Yes I do regular Pilates but for me to stop my lower back seizing up I have to stretch, stretch, stretch and have to strengthen my gluts too. So with all this I have a few tips to become a better, stronger, faster runner……..

Sam Greenwood physical literacy expert says“There is too much emphasis on actual running, when in reality runners should be focusing on improving core skills such as strength, posture, stability and mobility.”

Types of exercise to incorporate

1. Plyometric Exercises

If you really want to boost your running implement plyometric exercises two or three times a week into your training.‘Plyometric’ is commonly used to describe any explosive, jumping exercise and this is a popular addition to circuit training and is used in many sports. The most important functions of muscles and tendons during running is to store energy. Like a spring, your body can store some energy from impact and then unload that energy to propel your body forward. A large portion of your energy actually comes from the energy stored in your legs from the impact you made with the ground. So Plyometric training activates different muscle recruitment patterns than distance running does, it teaches your body to react to fast-twitch fibres. Maximising muscle recruitment allows you to exert more force into your legs and propel yourself faster.

A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning that tested the effect of plyometric exercises and running, further confirms that runners will benefit from adding in plyometric exercises. The study established a baseline by asking all participants to complete a timed 5km run, then split them into two groups. One group’s training consisted of running around two or three times a week, whereas the second group ran less but also completed bodyweight plyometric exercises. After eight weeks, both groups had significantly improved their 5km times, but the plyometric group ran 25% less than the other and still achieved the same results.

Example Exercises are – Switch Lunges, Leg bounds and Box Jumps.

2. Improve your posture

Your posture is the foundation of your movements, it affects how you stand, walk and run. Poor posture will shift your centre of mass back, accentuates over striding and impairs your ability to control the muscles in the spine and the lower legs. This lack of control can inhibit you from correctly storing and releasing the elastic energy for optimum running performance. As gravity pushes down on our bodies, our muscles make thousands of tiny contractions to keep us in a natural position, which means that you are actively maintaining your joints in the middle of their range of motion whilst standing, sitting and moving.

Pilates can help you work in a neutral spine and stretches are important such as – Kneeling hip flexor stretch, Balanced Donkey Kicks.

Posture strengthening moves have to include the posterior muscles including lower back, the glutes, the hamstrings, and the calf muscles, try deadlifts, squats, lunges.

3. Improve your balance

Balance and stability is key to performance to maintain efficiency in each stride to helping to avoid injuries.

“The ankle is very common to injure while running, due to the nature of undulating surfaces and the up and down of pavement, good balance will help your ankle respond to the change in level of the surface you run on.” states Matthew Crehan, Author of The Art of Running and Sport and Exercise Science graduate from University of Leeds.

Exercise – Stand on one leg with your eyes closed for 30 seconds before repeating on the other. Stand on the edge of a stair and raise up to toes and down both feet then try one at a time. Also the reformer works the ankles and can help get the legs, knees and ankles in good alignment.

4. Develop your core

There is a direct correlation between a strong core, strength and flexibility and a powerful run.

A strong core is vital for good running form; the core muscles work together to stabilise the whole body, allowing the arms and legs to work hard, propelling you along at a pace. If the core is weak, runners will tire more easily and tend to slump, particularly on long runs. This contracts the lungs, limiting the amount of oxygen reaching the lungs which reduces blood flow to the working muscles. Furthermore, a weak core can mean that movement from the arms or legs can throw the rest of the body around; making the energy spend totally inefficient and increasing the risk of injury.”

5. Stretch to Prevent injuries

After every single workout, whether it’s a run, walk or a strength session, you must stretch! This is one of the most crucial parts of running training that is so often overlooked. Having tight muscles will not only affect your performance but increase your chances of injury. So take the time to stretch these properly to look after them. This helps prevent injuries and can improve strength, power and speed. Being aware of your body and staying pain free enables you to train more frequently and increase the intensity of your workouts. I use the foam roller to stretch and relax the muscles after each workout. (I still have 2 available. )

See my best stretches after running from last week

USING FOAM ROLLERS– these are great for going greater range of motion at a joint, speed recovery, myiofascia release but we have been discussing in class not stretching the IT Band (Iliotibial band) on the side of the leg as this can injury you as it is a tendon not a muscle, the answer is to get the glut med to fire up properly and it would not be so tight.

Need to improve your core strength come for a postural and functional movement assessment, for us to be able to give you a personalised training program. Contact hannah@farnhampilates.com

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Mums and Posture! Could your posture be causing you long term health problems?

Mums and postureAre you a new Mum?

Do you have back aches and pains, do you feel stiff with sore muscles and achy joints?

I have been though this and I have the solution!

I can help you reduce your aches and pains, improve your tummy tone, make you feel more confident, give you a stronger pelvic floor (so no accidents), better back strength and the right exercises for you !

Do you know one of the key factors is a better posture !!!

Why new mums need to correct their posture?

There’s no doubt that pregnant mums and mums with young babies carry heavy things from a baby, toddler to bags and car seats !

As we tend to our daily activities, posture is the last thing on our minds. Unfortunately, this can often lead to regular tasks – such as housework and social interaction – being performed in ways that are detrimental to our health and posture. Lifting badly is a common cause of back pain (remember to bend your knees and pull the item close to you).

While postural issues don’t always manifest themselves in a manner that allow us to easily recognise we have them, back pain can be a clear sign that you may need to have your posture assessed. We balance our baby on our hip, the phone against the ear, so no wonder our lower back and neck hurt!

Did you know approximately 70% of women will, at some time in their lives, report low back pain. And during pregnancy, while 50–80% of women have reported back pain, one-third of pregnant women claim this low back pain is a significant problem.

Common Posture Problems

Uneven hips
Activities such as twisting to lift children out of cars, and carrying of babies or young children on the hips, can cause your hips and shoulders to become uneven.

Forward Head Posture
As a woman’s body adapts to her changing weight and shape during pregnancy, the spine and pelvis realign to serve as a counter-balance, One of the issues that can arise from this is Forward Head Posture (FHP).

Dowager’s Hump (or increased kyphosis)
Dowager’s hump (or increased kyphosis) is another postural issue that can occur during pregnancy. It is a condition that increases the natural curve of the upper back.

Pelvis Forward
The increased weight from carrying a child can pull your pelvis forward, increasing the curve to your lower back (or increased lordosis).

In severe cases, long term bad posture can lead to Scoliosis, a condition that results in the spine twisting from left to right, instead of running in a straight line from top to bottom. Depending on the severity, scoliosis of the spine can have a detrimental impact on vital organs, such as your heart, liver and kidneys.

Correcting Posture

The good news is that postural issues can be corrected, and even, in some instances reversed.

A good pilates teacher, osteopath, chiropractor, Physio can assess your posture or send me a photo and I can give you specific exercises – hannah@farnhampilates.com

At Farnham Pilates we give exercises and stretches that, when done regularly, will help to strengthen your muscles and maintain improved posture. Farnham Pilates is an online resource for pilates videos, tips and information to help busy mums solve these common, painful problems.

You can Take Action

1. Assess your own posture in a mirror.

2. Make an appointment to see me – I can recommend daily exercises to improve and maintain your back and core strength.

3. Start a routine of gentle exercise – Pilates, yoga, walking – see link here for Farnham Pilates classes.

3. Commit 3 minutes a day to improving your posture-

My philosophy is to keep moving, stretch do exercises within your limits and find something you enjoy.

Just 3 minutes a day dedicated to exercises to improve your posture can make a tremendous impact on your long term health. People who regularly stretch and maintain a good range of motion are less likely to suffer the negative effects of immobility.

4. Look at your diet and nutrition – Reduce sugar it reduces inflammation that can cause the pain!!

Maintaining a healthy spine, can help you maintain a healthier life.

If you are not local to me or find it hard to commit to a regular exercise session why not take a look at my Yummy tummy Programme.  This programme gives you bite sized exercises which you can do anywhere.  It is a 6 week programme which will help create a flat strong tummy, strong core muscles, and strong pelvic floor which will help solve many of the issues mentioned above.  You get weekly emails and a Facebook support group to join so that you are given the best chance of succeeding  over the 6 weeks.  Click here to find out more or you can sign up below.

Yummy Tummy Programme

Focus on Farnham Pilates Teacher – Sara Rounce

Farnham Pilates teacher

Sara Rounce

This weeks blog is a focus on one of our lovely teachers at Farnham Pilates, Sara Rounce. Sara teaches in the studio on Thursdays. She trained with The Pilates Institute in London back in 2003 and has enjoyed a varied career teaching classes at all levels and abilities as well as pregnancy, postnatal and seniors. Since having 3 children, Sara has become increasingly interested in pregnancy and postnatal exercise and is a specialist in this area.

Here’s what we asked Sara about her background in Pilates.

What is your favourite exercise and why?

I have two!

First is The Dart as it really focuses on extension of the spine whilst stabilising the shoulders. It is a strong exercise for the upper back and excellent for correcting poor posture. There are a lot of elements to get right which makes it a challenge to teach but it is so beneficial and I love the way client’s backs change when they make the correct movement in this exercise. You can see the ‘wings’ (scapulae) sink into the back and it is beautiful to see.

Secondly, The Plank! It is one of those exercises that, from a teaching perspective, most clients groan when I say that is what we are going to do next! However it is also one of the exercises that clients see the most or the quickest progress with and I find it a great benchmark. It is fantastic for building overall body strength, stamina and focusses on the core and the shoulders. It is great because you can easily modify to cover every ability level so everyone can join in and not feel left behind.

How do you like to structure a class?

My classes are usually an hour long and start with a standing warm up to focus the mind onto the body and to work on elements such as balance, coordination, centring and breathing. Then there is about 50 minutes of matwork exercises which involve lying on the back, side, front and seated movements. Then the last 5 minutes involves stretching and allowing the body to warm down.

What was your training and how long have you been teaching?

I have been teaching for 12 years. I was trained by Michael King, Cherry Baker and Malcolm Muirhead and my inspirations are based on my initial training at the Pilates Institute in London as well as my time with my own inspirational Pilates teacher, Kira Bowie who owns Aberdeen Pilates Studio where I taught for 3 years and more recently Carolyne Anthony (Center of Women’s Fitness).

What is your main area of interest in Pilates?
I am passionate about post-natal recovery in women and in March 2015 I attended Carolyne Anthony’s course “Healing Exercises for Diastasis Recti, C-Section and Pubis Symphasis Derangement” which I now apply in my teaching. Having had 3 c-sections and suffered from diastasis recti myself, I realise how important these healing exercises are for new mums. I felt so passionately about helping women to recover after having a baby that I have developed the Postnatal App available on iTunes to help women around the world.

I hope you have enjoyed finding out a bit more about one of our teachers. You can read a bit more about Sara here and if you are interested in coming along to her class on a Thursday then do get in touch below.

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