10 minute Pilates stretches to improve mobility – focus on shoulders and neck

What a strange time it is.  More has opened up over the last week, and yet I’m feeling as if I’m still stuck at home more than I’d like to be. It’s like we’re busier but we’re not doing any more, does that make sense?! Over the next few weeks, these blogs will be focusing 10 minute Pilates stretches and on the need to remember your health as things get busier.  It can feel as if there is not enough time to do everything, but if you don’t prioritise your health, an increase in your workload and the stresses and strains of life will really take their toll. I promise you, just 10 minutes of Pilates stretches a day will give you a huge benefit. Some of the stretches can even be done at your desk.

With this in mind, I have developed a new FREE Facebook group to help busy women build mobility and freedom, and reduce pain from achy joints. Each day I post a short and sweet 10 minute Pilates stretches video; even the busiest person can enjoy improved mobility and less pain. Give it a go!

Shoulder and Neck stretches

So, the focus of this week’s videos is on shoulder and neck stretches.

It’s important to work these together, as you should not carry out neck stretches without first releasing the shoulders. 

Why is neck stiffness and pain so common?

Common reasons for neck pain:

  • actions as simple as looking down at your phone repeatedly, or holding your head in one position, this can affect posture long term
  • hours at computer and cellphone without movement
  • incorrect seating at a desk
  • reading (especially a good book that you are engrossed in!)
  • driving or sitting for extended periods
  • cycling, especially  if you are not properly positioned on your bike can lead to real neck tension
  • walking, especially on uneven terrain
  • sleeping incorrectly, in strange positions or with bad pillows
  • sewing, sketching, or writing
  • carrying a heavy shoulder bag
  • sports that use one side of the body such as tennis or golf
  • repetitive movements of the upper body such cooking/ stirring

Aim to increase the daily movement of your neck – making small changes to your movement can be a really simple way to start to improve mobility and reduce pain.  Try these gentle daily movements:

  • rotate the neck from side to side
  • bend the neck forward (neck flexion)
  • tip the head laterally to bring the ear to the shoulder
  • extend the neck to lift the chin upward

Note a normal range of motion is (in neck flexion) 40 to 80 degrees, without experiencing pain, discomfort, or resistance

Check out these short stretch videos, remember to do the shoulder one first, then the neck stretch.

Shoulder video

Neck stretch video

 Additional exercises

Neck flexion stretch

This exercise will help loosen your posterior neck muscles and reduce tightness.

  1. Rest your arms alongside your body and engage your core muscles to stabilise your spine.
  2. Draw your shoulder blades back and down.
  3. Slowly draw your chin in toward your chest.
  4. Hold for 15–30 seconds.
  5. Do 2–4 repetitions.

To deepen this stretch, place one hand behind your head with your fingertips at the base of your skull to help guide the movement.

Neck retraction

This exercise loosens up tight muscles, relieves pain, and reduces spinal pressure. Keep your eyes facing forward the whole time.

  • Place your fingers on your chin to push your head as far backward as possible.
  • Feel the stretch in the back of your neck.
  • Hold for 2–3 seconds before returning to neutral.

Do 3–4 sessions of 8–10 repetitions all at once or throughout the day.

Exercises for improving neck extension

The goal of these exercises is to lessen the intensity and severity of symptoms. These stretches relieve neck tension and pain, making them the perfect counterbalance to activities that require you to look down repeatedly.

Upward neck extensions

This exercise targets the front of your neck. You can do this exercise by moving with each breath instead of holding the position. Inhale as you look up and exhale as you return to the starting position.

  • Begin in a seated position.
  • Slowly bend your neck backward and gaze up toward the ceiling.
  • Hold this position for 5-10 seconds.

Do 5 repetitions.

Bed hangs

Do this exercise when you first wake up or before bed to relieve pain and increase circulation.

  • Lie horizontally across the bed with your head, upper back, and shoulders near the edge.
  • Gently manoeuvre your body to allow your head to stretch along the side of the bed.
  • Reach your arms and hands overhead or place them alongside your body for more support.
  • Hold this position for at least 30 seconds.
  • Release by tucking your chin into your chest and using your arms to shift your body back onto the bed.

Do this exercise 1–3 times.

I really hope these 10 minute Pilates stretches have been helpful.  Do check back next week, when we will focus on Mid-back stretches and mobility. Don’t forget our FREE Facebook group or you can see an enormous library of videos and a host of helpful articles with our monthly Pilates Community membership for only £16.99 per month! 

Until next week, squeeze and breathe,

Love Hannah xx

Strong Saturday – Farnham Pilates Blog

Easy ways to stay healthy at home

It’s easy at times like these to slip into bad habits, so here is a reminder about some simple things you can do to ensure you stay healthy – and happy – at home.

Make the most of the first 10 minutes of the day and set the tone for the day ahead – exercise, stretch, sit, and breathe. Get dressed and some days wear a dress or your favourite outfit that you feel good in. 

Be kind to yourself – try not to put high expectations on yourself. We all have different worries and concerns and this time and this means that you may not “achieve” much, so be kind to yourself. Try to incorporate self-care in your day even if it is just to shower and moisturise with your favourite smell; I love rose products from the Body Shop and like to put orange essence on my wrists to lift my mood. Every night I put lavender drops in my bath and on my pillow (I’m a bit of a smell freak!). Do things to make you find the joy and happiness within you – what do you love doing? How about reading, jigsaw puzzles or knitting.  If you are missing the coast you could find the sound of sea on YouTube. Even a simple bath and early night will make a massive difference to your stress levels,  so get a good night’s sleep. If you struggle try breathing exercises 10 mins before. 

Make plans and goals for the day – do meal plans and batch cooking to make life easier, it is so much less stressful if you know what is planned. Do a shopping list and stick to the plan – this will also help you avoid overeating.  Batch cooking makes for a stress-free dinner as you just have to reheat what you have already made.  Try to think of non-food related treats, such as a special cup of tea, a walk around the garden or a face mask. To mix things up a bit, look out for local schemes to help the community through these times: for instance the Maltings in Farnham is running a jigsaw and games swap. And with garden centres opening up, a little gardening can be a great stress reliever and improve the view out of your window!

Create a new routine – we have come out of the initial holiday phase at Easter (even if you are working) and feel we need to achieve things so plan your day. Try and do the daily exercise, do a 10 mins exercise video then Pilates, also plan a walk. Even if you just dance round the kitchen it will make a big impact. 

Keep a healthy diet – your energy levels will be affected by what you eat, so be sure to focus on good gut health and keep your immune system strong. I swear by Symprove, a local firm (I don’t get commission!) https://www.symprove.com. Learn more about the gut here – https://www.symprove.com/gut-microbiome/. You have 70-80% of your immune system in your gut, so manage your immune system with good gut microbe. Lack of Vitamin D can have a massive impact on energy levels and there is evidence that it can reduce the impact of Covid-19, so ensure you get enough sun and consider taking a supplement. Eat regularly to help balance blood sugar levels and add more fibre into your diet. An easy meal could be lentil bolognaise with whole wheat pasta and cheese. 

LAST CHANCE to join before the price increases next week then the doors close at end of May. 

I have 2 types of membership – 

ZOOM I only do zoom classes for the clients that pay for the class membership on £45 a month. The classes are small – there are about about 4-8 people in each class.
Monday 2.30 back care 
Monday 8pm improvers (business class)
Tuesday 9.30 beginners mixed
Some Saturdays  

FACEBOOK The rest are on Facebook – those are for the clients paying £9.99 a month.
Classes 
Mon, Wed, Fri at 9.35am 
(some Saturdays) 
This includes access to the website with a library of videos.

Membership also gives offers you a private Facebook group and WhatsApp group where there are lots of classes, both recorded and live.

I want you to take this opportunity to try this deal as Prices are going up next week on Thursday 21st April.  

Class membership will increase from £45 to £49 per month.

Online membership will increase from £9.99 to £11.99 per month

“I LOVE THE PILATES COMMUNITY. YOUR TEACHING IS OUTSTANDING AND I FEEL “SAFE” THAT YOU KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING. PILATES CONTRIBUTES TO MY WELLBEING AND I SIMPLY LOVE BEING PRESENT. IT CAN BE VERY STRESSFUL WITH ELDERLY PARENTS SO I LOOK FORWARD TO PILATES AS PART OF HELPING TO KEEP MY MIND AND BODY WELL. THANK YOU.”

Jayne

“SINCE DOING PILATES, I FEEL MORE SUPPLE, KNOW HOW TO STRETCH PROPERLY AND FIND THAT RUNNING IS MUCH EASIER. HANNAH HAS ALSO HELPED WITH MY POSTURE AS I SIT AT A DESK ALL DAY.”

H Mortimer, Surrey

Next week’s blog will cover stretches for homeworking. Check back then!

Squeeze and breathe,

Love Hannah x

Stay fit with Farnham Pilates – classes at home via Facebook Live and Zoom

Now that we are all minimising social contact to prevent the spread of Coronavirus, let me show you how you can continue Pilates from your own home. Due to government guidelines, the Garden Studio is now closed until further notice.
If you are already a class attendee, these are the classes available to you. Please note that Zoom classes are limited to 35 mins for tec reasons, and Facebook Live classes are 45 minutes as these are much more intense classes.

Monday      2.30 – 3.05 Back care Zoom
                      7.30 – 8.15 Beginners Facebook Live
                      8.30 – 9.15 Improvers Facebook Live

Tuesday      9.30 – 10.15 Improvers Facebook Live 
                      10.30 – 11.05  Beginners Zoom 

Wednesday 9.00 – 9.45 Relaxation Facebook Live 

Friday           9.00 – 9.45 Mixed family session – Facebook Live

Saturday     9.00 – 9.45 Mixed family session – Facebook Live 


At the moment, these classes will continue weekly until 10th July but this is subject to change in these difficult times. I want to support you and would be so grateful if you could support me. We normally have a break for Easter but I have decided to continue classes through the Easter break, with the exception of Good Friday through to Easter Monday.  Naturally, if I am ill or anyone in my family is ill and needs looking after, I will be unable to do the classes but I will let you know if this happens. Let’s use this an opportunity to look out for eachother and to maintain some structure to our days! 

For live classes, the cost for current and new members is £10 per week.  This can be paid to me weekly, monthly or termly.  The added advantage of these new Facebook and Zoom classes is that you will be able to “virtually” attend all of these classes for just £10 per week. 

Once you have paid, you will be put on a separate email list to receive daily emails and videos, so please confirm your payment by email.

So that is all for a price of just:
£10 per week; or
£40 per month; or
£100 until 10th July.

If you are already attending my classes you will have received a link to my WhatsApp group that contains details about Facebook Live and the Zoom link. 

If you are new, once you have paid I will send you the Facebook Live and Zoom Link. 

Payment details
Farnham Pilates 
Account number: 00095005
Sort code: 30-93-20

Please put your surname in the reference field.

Join the Farnham Pilates Facebook group – this is so important to keep you motivated and so you can ask any questions. Also please invite a friend to join so you can work out together. Please Join here  (let me know if you struggle I can help.)

Once you have paid you can also access the WhatsApp linkHERE

MEDICAL QUESTIONNAIRE: If you have not previously completed one, please do so here:  https://pilatescommunity.co.uk/par-q-form
so I can help if you have any problems.


Thank you,
Squeeze and breathe!
Love Hannah
(virtual hug xxx)

Please Email, Text or WhatsApp me on 
07855 291833 
hannah@farnhampilates.com
Farnham Pilates   www.farnhampilates.co.ukwww.pilatescommunity.co.uk

Farnham Pilates Weekly Blog – Fitness in February

Hello and welcome to February! This is a short month (even on a leap year) and this has got us thinking about the time it takes to get fit. In the old days, getting fit was all about how much time you put in. An hour of swimming laps in the swimming pool, 45 minutes jogging, anyone? Research is growing that there are many benefits to short bursts of intense exercise, for both improving cardiovascular function and fat loss. So where does Pilates fit in with this? Here at Farnham Pilates we can offer 1:1s or small group 1:1s. This allows for more interaction with the Pilates instructor, meaning that exercises are done to a greater intensity. Couple that with use of the Pilates reformer or vibration plate, and you can have yourself an intense and effective workout in a fraction of the time! So you can reap the benefits of an hour long class in less than 30 minutes!

What is the Pilates Reformer?

The reformer a piece of Pilates equipment that you can lie on. It is large enough to accommodate full-range motion, which is wonderful for increasing flexibility while building strength. It seems to invite the length you want to create in the body, and it trains the body to sustain that length. Pushing and pulling with legs or arms against the resistance of the springs, carriage, and body weight is generally strength building. The exercises provide enough resistance and movement variety to help build strong bones. And there is a special feature – eccentric muscle contractions. This is when a muscle lengthens as it resists a force. It is great for injury rehabilitation as there is less impact on the joints and many exercises are done lying down. The reformer has a ‘rolling carriage’ with the springs set at different levels of resistance; this provides all kinds of stability challenges that develop core strength and promote better balance. For example, having less of the body on the carriage is one of the ways Pilates exercises get harder. It means more body weight has to be supported by the practitioner, and the body and machine have to be controlled even more from the core.

Springboard

Even if you regularly take reformer classes, incorporating some Springboard classes will help you quickly break through that fitness plateau.

Vibration Plates

Here at Farnham Pilates we use vibration plates help you speed up a routine with vibration making stability harder. So the increase in stability and basic movements, balances and exercises such as bodyweight squats, bicep curls and lunges, feel harder and give you a more intense workout.

For any Pilates reformer or vibration plate 1:1 personal training approach we track you progress and adhere to safety.

THE BENEFITS OF reformer and vibration plate-

✅Burn calories and fat whilst toning your muscles ✅Build muscle strength ✅Reduce cellulite due to boost in blood circulation to the tissues and its ability to tone muscles and tighten connective tissue ✅Improve your overall fitness resulting in improved moods, better sleep, and posture ✅It’s easy on your joints and tendons as there is no jumping or running involved ✅It gives you a full workout in a fraction of the time

Farnham Pilates 1:1s

Contact me if you want to try out a 1:1 session, where you can use the reformer or vibration plate to kickstart your fitness. I can offer ad hoc sessions or regular sessions, to fit in with your busy schedule. Prices as follows: 1 hour assessment: £65; 45 minute follow-up class: £45; 30 minute follow-up class: £35; Small group 1:1 class: 1 hour for £85 (split between the participants)

Availability: Thursday AM; Monday and Wednesday after 1500; Fridays 0830-1130; Saturday 0930-1230

Squeeze and breathe,

Love Hannah xx

Creating Healthy Habits – how to keep up the momentum

So – it’s the third week of January.  How are all your new year’s resolutions going?  Chances are, some of them have already slipped.  If you put too much pressure on yourself, you set yourself up to fail.  Short term gains do not create a healthy lifestyle, so it is important to see how incorporating regular, gentle exercise into your daily life, can become a habit and therefore make a real, long-term change to your life.

How long does it take to form a new habit?

Researchers at University College London, recently conducted an enlightening study on habit formation. Participants performed a self-chosen, health-promoting dietary or activity behaviour, like drinking a glass of water, in response to a once-daily cue, like after breakfast, and gave daily self-reports of how automatic the behaviour felt. On average it took 66 days for the participants to start a habit. (That’s March 6 if you are attempting a New Year’s resolution).

Can I miss a day?

Popular belief has seemed to suggest that missing a day in the habit formation process meant you had to start over from day one. The study stated that,

“Missing one opportunity to perform the behaviour did not materially affect the habit formation process.”

What this means is, if you miss a day in trying to start a new habit, don’t put yourself on a guilt trip. Just keep trying; you’ll eventually get there.

So whether you are trying to eat 4 servings of fruit everyday, or walk 20 minutes a day, keep trying. You will eventually get there. And don’t get discouraged if it takes more than 66 days.

So, what can you do to kickstart this habit?

Why not sign up here to my 30 day Pilates Challenge course? For a special price of just £9.99 (usual price £11 per month) you will receive a daily video to practise in the comfort of your own home, the opportunity to join our online community via Facebook or WhatsApp to help with accountability, motivation and to share tips and stories. Pilates can help relieve pain, increase core strength and flexibility and increase strength and stability. A comment from a recent sign-up:

“Me and my 12 year old are doing the videos each night before he goes to bed. It’s helping him to go to sleep so it’s definitely working!” LV, Portsmouth

So, with my 30 day Pilates Challenge, building that new habit may just be a little easier….

Squeeze and breathe,

Love Hannah x