Keeping the body engine running smoothly
Body Engine – If you are suffering from aches pains or recovering from injury it’s important to keep moving, even when you don’t feel like it. The body is designed for movement. I have always benefitted from exercise, especially at low health points in my life. If you are not in good health, or suffering from injury it does not mean you cannot move and a good movement teacher will help you; always consult a qualified and experienced teacher, after you have consulted your health practitioner about starting exercise. I would recommend a Pilates teacher that is fully trained in the method by a recognised school of Pilates. I trained with Body Control Pilates. If you are interested and want to find a teacher in your area check out www.bodycontrolpilates.com
If you are recovering from an illness or injury and you are in recovery, you can adapt exercise to suit your range of movement, ability and energy levels. The worst thing to do is to become a couch potato.
Last September I had an unfortunate incident with a wardrobe resulting in the ligaments in my knee being completely torn away and 2 tibia fractures.
It was a real shock to the system being such an active person and I now appreciate how challenging it is for people with long term disabilities and injuries – 3 months in a wheelchair and physio every day for 5 months, completely put Dan and I in disarray at the retreat because it happened at our busiest time, with groups throughout September and October.
Luckily I started walking much more quickly than the estimated time given by the medics, thanks to physio and my determination at home with my own Pilates regimen and the fantastic Pilates reformer machine.
Once I was on my feet again, I created a simple routine for myself morning and night that has given me so much energy and strength, I feel even stronger than I was prior to the accident. This routine is great for anyone and also helps to lower blood pressure, so I thought I would share it with you.
Simple effective exercises that can take 10 or 15 minutes
- 1) gentle neck rotation
(walking on crutches created a lot of muscle tension in my shoulders and upper back), something many of us experience, even working on the computer. Stand tall and turn the head slowly; looking over the shoulder and then rotate to the other side, repeat 6 or 7 times, breathing in when the head is centre and breathe out to turn, repeat slowly and do not over stretch, just work within the range your neck likes.
- 2) overhead stretch
stretch arms above your head and stand on tip toes with deep breaths. In as you raise on your toes and stretch the arms straight next to your ears,. Breathe out and hold the position, breath in and breathe out to lower the heels and the arms. Repeat 6 times.
- 3) Balance
Standing on one leg for 20 seconds, with the eyes closed is great for balance, strengthens the standing leg and makes you work your core posture muscles.
- 4) Side stretch
Next with legs about a metre apart, stretching the arms above the head, engaging the core and stretching over to each side, strengthens the leg and the core tummy muscles. See photo
Twisting to right and left, easy and loose but keeping the legs strong and a metre apart, repeat about 8 times and breathe in coordination with the movement.
5) Pilates roll down, (not recommended if you have osteoporosis or any undiagnosed back injury or problem.)
Stand tall against a wall. Leaving your body on the wall, walk your feet six to ten inches away from the wall. Pull your abdominals in. Keep your shoulders away from your ears, your chest wide and your ribs down as you raise your arms straight up over head. Begin the Roll Down. Your arms stay parallel to your ears as you nod your head and begin to slowly roll your spine down and away from the wall, vertebrae by vertebrae. The abdominals stay lifted and there is a sense of lengthening the spine as you roll down. Deepen the Curve, Slowly, vertebrae by vertebrae. As the roll down progresses, you have the opportunity to deepen the scoop of the abs even more. Work slowly, peeling the spine away from the wall. Let your head and neck relax. Roll down as far as you can go without letting your hips leave the wall. Your abdominals are very pulled in. Feel the curve evenly along the upper, middle and lower sections of your torso. You could be getting a good hamstring stretch here.
Return the pelvis to upright. Begin your return up the wall by initiating the roll up with your lower abs. This is a powerhouse move.
Think of using the lower abs to bring your pelvis to an upright position. Continue up, placing each vertebrae on the wall, one by one. As you roll up, your arms travel alongside your ears and the shoulders stay relaxed. Finally standing tall and extended, repeat 3 or 4 times
6) Seated stretch
Sitting on the mat with arms above the head, slowly bend forward from the hips on an out breath, then release the arms, and roll up to straight.
Important tips: make sure your shoulders are away from the ears in standing postures, roll the shoulders a few times and let them drop heavy, feeling the scapula drawing down and then relax into it, be mindful of this – locking into place creates tension, so let the body feel fluid. Make sure the shoulders stay low when stretching the arms above the head, always engage the core to protect the spine in side bend and use your core to lengthen back up again. With head and neck rolls make sure you work with the range of movement, don’t push past it.
If you have neck problems, there are a lot of gentle exercises, Pilates that is physio orientated, that can help to release muscle tension.
Muscle tension in the neck and upper body is a major cause of headaches and more common now we are using our computers and tablets so much. Take breaks from the computer – it’s so important.
So get moving no matter what, remember to breathe deeply and even just doing that and stretching your arms above your head and standing on tippy toes, can be good for you.
If you want to join me at Tara Casa for daily movement to keep the body’s engine running smoothly, then we have rolling dates throughout the year for solo and group guests, so send us your details here