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Pilates: It’s more than the core!

Posted on 1st July 2019 by

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“You need to strengthen your core!”

“You’ve got a weak core!”

“Pilates will help your core!”

Sound familiar? Particularly if you’ve ever had back pain, these may be comments or messages you’ve heard quite frequently.

The buzz of ‘the core’ started back in the 1990’s, when targeted exercises towards the deep core muscles were thought to be the best way to help with back pain. It was thought that low back pain may have been caused by weak deep core muscles and that by working and ‘strengthening’ the core muscles, you could help back pain. Therapists and exercise pro’s leapt on this ‘theory’ and you will still read and hear people talking about this all the time, despite there being no link ever having been found between back pain and core muscle ‘strength’!

The current thinking and evidence surrounding ways to both prevent and help people with back pain (an in fact many other common injuries, aches, pains and long-standing conditions) is that it’s movement, activity and any exercise is the best way! The key is that you find something you enjoy, fit’s in with your daily life, you can commit to regularly and that challenges your body in some way.

There is a common misconception that all Pilates exercises do is work your ‘core’.

But there’s a lot more to Pilates than the core!

So, although Pilates exercises will focus around exercising your ‘core’ tummy and back muscles, doing Pilates exercises will also work and benefit your body in many other ways! This makes it a fantastic form of exercise if you do have back pain, a long-standing condition such as arthritis or other aches and pains.

A Pilates class will challenge and work on:

  • Your balance and flexibility
  • Strength in your arm and leg muscles
  • Breathing techniques
  • Movement and body awareness – so becoming aware of your posture and how your body moves and rests, important in helping you be mindful of your body and connecting with it
  • Relaxation and time invested in you
  • Co-ordination

Our specialist classes here at goPhysio will further support you, by providing access and support from our dedicated team of Clinical Instructors – so you can be rest assured you will be in great hands! Being Clinicians, our team can integrate their knowledge and experience of not only how the body works and moves, but also injuries, aches, pains & MSK conditions for which you might need specific support.

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Meet Your Team, Hello Roz!

Posted on 24th June 2019 by

As our team has grown over the last year or so, we thought it would be a great time to introduce you to the team that we have to help you, re-introducing the more familiar faces and welcoming the new ones!

Roz Brawn - Physiotherapist & Level 2 APPI Pilates Instructor

Today we meet Physiotherapist & Pilates Instructor, Roz.

What are your clinical qualifications?

I studied a BSc Sports Science initially at Loughborough University, graduating in 1993 before going on to study Physiotherapy at Birmingham University, where I qualified in 1997.

What areas have you previously worked in?

My career started in the NHS and I then went to work in Australia as a Physio in private practice for 4 years. On returning to the UK, I spent time working in the private sector alongside working with the Hampshire County Cricket Team. For 8 years I worked with the English Institute of Sport, including being the full time Physiotherapist to the GB Rowing Team, GB Diving Team and GB Synchro Swimming Team. I have also worked as a part time physio for the GB Gymnastics Team.

Do you have any special areas of interest in physiotherapy?

Unsurprisingly, given my sporting experience, I am interested in working with sports injuries, particularly hip and back issues. I am a member of the ACPSEM. I also enjoy rehab after spinal surgery or fractures.

I have specialist qualifications in using acupuncture and am a member of the AACP, and IASTM (read more about what IASTM is here!).

I am also a Level 2 APPI Pilates Instructor and Pilates Reformer Instructor.

What you’re most proud of?

Being part of Team GB at the Olympic Games and seeing the athletes that had worked so hard achieve their goals and dreams knowing that I had played a part to enable that journey to be completed.

What’s the best thing about being part of the goPhysio team? 

Being part of a supportive team of people all with different backgrounds, knowledge and skills who are open to sharing those skills and supporting each other.

We asked………

If you could invite any 3 people in the world round for dinner, who would they be?

  • David Attenborough
  • Nelson Mandela
  • Ben Fogle

Where in the world is top of your list to visit?

Thailand

If you were going to space and could only take 1 thing, what would it be?

A photo album

What’s the 1 thing that may surprise people about you? 

 I drove a 4WD vehicle from Australia to England!


Roz works at goPhysio from Tuesday – Friday. If you’d like to book an appointment to see Roz, you can give us a call on 023 8025 3317 or book an appointment online here.


5 Elements of Posture and how Pilates can help

Posted on 1st June 2019 by

Having an awareness of your body and posture is a great way to help maintain a healthy, well-functioning body.  Sustained postures that your body isn’t used to or a lack of awareness of how your body feels in certain positions can lead to low back pain, neck pain, headaches, injuries, shortness of breath and even digestive problems. Being aware of your posture can help with maintaining the body’s natural spinal curves, reducing muscle tension and improving movement.

The APPI (Australian Physiotherapy and Pilates institute) method of Pilates taught at goPhysio is based on 5 key elements which are the focus of postural awareness:

5 Elements of Posture How Pilates helps
  1. Breathing
  2. Centering (engaging the core muscles whilst maintaining the neutral spine)
  3. Rib cage alignment
  4. Shoulder blade placement
  5. Head and neck position

Through these 5 key elements, Pilates can really help us become more aware of and in tune with our body. Ultimately, this can help encourage us to move more, move better and prevent injuries from occurring.

Whether you work at beginner or advanced level, Pilates exercises focus on maintaining an optimum postural position throughout all exercises regardless of the specific muscle group a particular exercise may be targeting.  Always looking for optimal alignment and movement control of the pelvis, spine, ribcage, shoulders and head whilst maintaining good breathing patterns. With practice, this is transferred through into daily life as you are moving around.


Top 5 Pilates Exercises for your Abdominals

Posted on 1st March 2019 by

The abdominal (or tummy muscles) play a key feature in Pilates. ‘Setting the core‘ is often a starting point for many exercises.

The great thing about Pilates based abdominal exercises are that the movements are slow, considered and controlled. They very much focus on ‘quality’ movement, making sure you’re aware of your lower back, which, if you’ve ever experienced low back pain, is really important.

These 5 exercises that focus on your tummy area can help ease and prevent aches and pains around the back, hips and pelvis,

#1 Scissors

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent up in the Pilates Rest Position. Legs hip width apart, shoulders drawn down and in and your neck long. Centre Engaged.
  2. Float your legs one at a time into the tabletop position (hips and knees bent to 90 degrees).
  3. Hold this double tabletop position, so both of your legs are bent up.
  4. Lower your left leg and tap the tips of your toes on the mat and then float the leg back up into the tabletop position.
  5. Lower your right leg and tap the tips of your toes on the mat and then float this leg back into tabletop.
  6. Repeat alternating legs.

#2 Hip Twist

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent up in the Pilates Rest Position. Legs hip width apart, shoulders drawn down and in and your neck long. Centre engaged.
  2. Float your leg up into tabletop.
  3. Keeping your leg in tabletop, glide this leg outwards from your hip joint.
  4. Draw this leg back in again until your knee is directly above your hip.
  5. Repeat on alternate legs.

#3 Abdominal Prep

  1. Start in the Pilates rest position with your hands interconnected and placed behind the top of the neck to support the head. Elbows slightly lifted away from the floor, shoulders drawn down and in.
  2. Slide your ribcage downwards towards your waist to lift your head, neck and shoulders off the mat whilst maintaining the neutral spine position.
  3. Hold and then lower to the mat.

#4 Half Roll Back

  1. Sit on the mat with your legs in front, hip-distance apart. Bend your hips and knees a little.
  2. Roll off the back of your sitting bones and round your spine into a deep C-shaped curve from the crown of the head to the tailbone. Arms long, reaching forwards parallel to the floor.
  3. Scoop your tailbone upwards towards the ceiling and roll further back-wards off your sitting bones to round your pelvis and lower towards the mat behind you.
  4. Roll your body forwards to the starting position, moving from your pelvis.

#5 Criss Cross

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent up in the Pilates Rest Position. Legs hip width apart, shoulders drawn down and in and your neck long. Centre engaged.
  2. Float both legs one at a time into the tabletop position. Fold your hands one on another and place them at the base of your head for support. Lift your elbows into your peripheral vision. Then scoop your upper body into the abdo. prep. position.
  3. Reach your right leg forwards and upwards on a diagonal. Simultaneously, reach your right shoulder blade diagonally across towards your left hip, keeping the upper body lifted. Allow your head and neck to follow the diagonal movement of your upper body.
  4. Alternate legs and rotate your upper body to the right, reaching your left shoulder blade towards your right hip. Keep the upper body lifted throughout.
  5. Repeat alternating legs with rotation of your upper body. Keep your upper body lifted.

Although at first glance these exercises may not seem too challenging, when performed correctly, they may surprise you!

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We have lot’s of informative and educational Pilates articles over on our blog, which you can find here.

If you’re interested in finding out more about joining our specialist Clinical Pilates classes at goPhysio in Chandlers Ford, take a look at the details of what we offer, our timetable of over 20 classes a week and more information about getting started with Pilates.

#LovePilates



A pain in the neck? Not with Pilates

Posted on 1st March 2019 by

The average weight of the human head is 4.5-5.0kg.  It is therefore no surprise that with this weight at the top of our bodies, how your neck moves and works, the positions that are demanded of it and the support it has, can play a part in problems experienced with neck pain and headaches.

However, the neck can not be considered in isolation. The position of the head at the top of the spine is also influenced by the alignment of the whole spine.

Stress on the cervical spine as related to posture. (From: Hansraj, K. K. (2014). Assessment of stresses in the cervical spine caused by posture and position of the headSurgical technology international25, 277-279.)

What’s great about Pilates, is that it can assist with maintaining the natural curves of the spine, including the neck, by increasing conscious awareness of posture and by strengthening the deep muscles that play in important part in supporting your body well.

Breathing patterns are also a fundamental part of Pilates and by achieving correct breath control and ‘diaphragmatic breathing’ we can ‘switch off’ the neck muscles that are often overactive with breathing and a component of causing neck pain.

Pilates can therefore help with neck pain by improving spinal alignment, strengthening deep stabilising muscles, relaxing overactive muscles, reducing tension and improving range of movement.

Read More

10 Ways to keep your neck pain under control


Bringing Pilates Into Everyday Life

Posted on 1st February 2019 by

Pilates is a great form of low impact exercise to help strengthen your core muscles, improve your posture and help to keep you flexible and mobile. Whilst doing a class once a week is a great start, you can bring some of the key elements of Pilates into your daily life to get even more benefit from Pilates.

Here are five ways you can bring Pilates into your everyday life:

#1 Engage your core

This isn’t just for Pilates classes! Keeping your core gently engaged through the day when you are moving around is a great way to further strengthen your core. Practice makes perfect! Try engaging your core before you get out of bed in the morning, before climbing a flight of stairs or before bending down to reach into a cupboard. Read more about this key building block of Pilates here.

#2 Move correctly

Pilates classes involve a series of slow, well controlled movements. Take this principle and apply it to all your movements, thinking about moving in a more purposeful and controlled manner, rather than rushing from A to B with no thought! Avoid any sudden or jerky movements and aim for smooth stable movements. Think quality of movement from the cues you might have picked up in your classes.

#3 Be Mindful of Your Posture

Imagine you have a helium balloon attached to the top of your head, pulling your spine up tall to stop you slouching. Think about sliding your shoulder blades back and down into your back pockets to open your chest and keep your upper back strong. Tuck your chin in slightly and keep the back of your neck long. If you work in an office and spend a lot of time sitting or in 1 position for long periods of time, you can start to feel the effects – by keeping these principles in mind you’ll be more productive and feel less achy at the end of the day! 

#4 Keep breathing

Try bringing some Pilates style breathing into your day – place your hands on your ribs and take a deep breath in, filling and expanding your lungs all the way to the base. Hold the breath for a moment and then exhale, pushing all the air out your lungs. Repeat 3-5 times. This is a great way to bring some calm or clarity to a busy day!

#5 Stretch it out

Start or finish your day with some basic Pilates stretches to get your body warmed up for the day ahead or cooled down after a long day. Try a ‘Cat Stretch’ on all fours to get your spine moving and then take it into a ‘Thread the Needle’ to get some rotational movement. Use a ‘Childs Pose’ or ‘Shell Stretch’ to relax and unwind at the end of the day.



Pilates with Resistance Band

Posted on 1st January 2019 by

There’s a very simple piece of kit you may have seen or used in one of our Pilates classes, the humble resistance band! It doesn’t look much but it’s a great way to challenge your Pilates exercises. It comes in a range of different strengths, depending on how much you’d like to challenge yourself!

We’ve put together some of our favourite Pilates exercises for doing with the resistance band.

#1 Roll Up

  1. Starting position: Sitting upright. Neutral lumbo-pelvic position. Legs extended in front. Legs extended in front, hips adducted, knees slightly flexed (to allow neutral spine position), ankles in mid ROM dorsiflexion. Theraband looped around the feet and held in each hand. Upper spine and back of the neck lengthened.
  2. Action: Inhale to prepare. Exhale, roll off the back of the sitting bones in a small range of motion to round the pelvis and the lumbar spine. The ribcage and upper quadrant should remain still. Keep the head and neck upright. Inhale, roll forwards onto the top of the sitting bones to resume the neutral spine starting position. The ribcage and upper quadrant should remain still. Keep the head and neck upright.
  3. Tips: Keep the feet on the floor. Do not poke the chin forward.

#2 One Leg Circle

  1. Starting position: On your back, knees bent, feet flat. Neutral lumbo-pelvic position. Resistance band looped around one foot. Hands holding the band. Back of the neck long.
  2. Action: Inhale to prepare. Exhale, float the left leg into the tabletop position then extend the knee. Inhale and hold the extended knee position keeping the band feeling taut. Exhale, circle outwards and downwards in a clockwise direction in a small, controlled range of motion. Inhale, complete the circle on this leg by circling inwards and upwards to finish where the circle started.
  3. Repeat circling this leg 6 – 8 times in the clockwise direction then exhale as you lower this leg to resume the neutral spine starting position.
  4. Repeat 6- 8 clockwise circles on right leg then repeat on 6 – 8 counter-clockwise circles on the left leg. Repeat 6 – 8 anti-clockwise circles on the right leg.
  5. Tips: Keep the pelvis still while doing the leg circles. Keep the knee facing the same direction through the movement to avoid hip rotation.
  6. If you are confused with the breathing, you can start doing the movement without focusing on the breathing..

#3 Shoulder Bridge

  1. Starting Position: The rest position. Neutral lumbo-pelvic position. Resistance band looped around both knees with the band feeling taut. Arms resting long beside the body. Back of the neck long.
  2. Action:
  3. Inhale to prepare. Exhale, gently roll the lower back into mat, lift the tailbone upwards towards the ceiling and continue to peel your spine off the mat, bone by bone until you are resting on your shoulder blades. Maintain tautness in the band.
  4. Inhale and hold the shoulder bridge position. Move your knees out towards the resistance of the band and back in again 6 – 8 times while maintaining the shoulder bridge position and normal breathing.
  5. Inhale and hold the shoulder bridge position. Exhale, and lower the shoulder bridge by drawing the breastbone downwards towards the mat, continue to peel your spine back onto the mat bone by bone until the tailbone connects the mat and the spine returns to neutral.
  6. Tips: Do not extend the thoracic spine (the shoulders must never be higher than the hips). Do not put your weight through your shoulder and neck but rather on your shoulders. Use segmental motion for the lift and lowering, peeling your spinal vertebrae 1 at a time like we do in class.

#4 Lower & Lift

  1. Starting Position: Lie on your side with your shoulders and hips stacked and a band between your legs, just above the ankles. Underneath arm outstretched in alignment with the trunk. Ensure your back is in neutral and your centre is engaged.
  2. Action: Inhale to prepare. Exhale, reach your top leg away from your body and then lift it upwards on an arc. Simultaneously point this ankle.
  3. Inhale, lower this leg to the starting position. Simultaneously flex this ankle.
  4. Tips: Imagine balancing a cup of tea on your top hip and top shoulder to avoid moving these areas. Imagine that the inner aspect of the top leg is polishing a glass tabletop to help keep this leg lifted at hip height. Imagine that the front hand is resting on a cream cake to avoid heavy pressure through this hand.

#5 Side Kick Press

  1. Starting position: Side lying. Underneath arm outstretched in alignment with the trunk with your head resting on this arm. Hips bent to approx. 45° and knees bent to approx. 90°. Shoulders and hips stacked. Resistance band to be looped round 1 foot and held in opposite hand.
  2. Action: Inhale to prepare. Exhale, lift the uppermost leg to bring the knee and ankle to hip height. Then extend the uppermost hip and the knee as far as control can be maintained. Inhale, flex the uppermost leg to the starting position.
  3. Tips: Keep the pelvis still while doing the leg movement.

#6 Clam

  1. Starting position: Side lying. Underneath arm outstretched in alignment with the trunk. Head resting on the underneath arm. Hips bent up to approx. 45° and knees bent up to approx. 90°. Resistance band looped around the knees. Shoulders and hips stacked one on top of the other. Top hand resting on the floor.
  2. Action: Inhale to prepare. Exhale, lift the top knee upwards, keeping the feet together. Inhale, lower the top knee onto the bottom leg.
  3. Tips: Keep the pelvis still while opening the leg.

You can pick up resistance band from goPhysio in Chandlers Ford for £5 a length. Ask your instructor what colour they’d recommend you use, depending on your level and how much of a challenge you need.

If you attend our Pilates classes and would like advice or guidance on any of this exercises, please ask your Instructor, who’d be more than happy to help!

goPhysio strongly recommends that you consult with your doctor before beginning any exercise program. You should understand that when participating in any exercise or exercise program, there is the possibility of physical injury. If you are in any doubt, please seek professional advice.



Top tips on how to get the most out of your Pilates classes

Posted on 1st January 2019 by

A lot of thought, care and preparation goes into our Pilates classes at goPhysio in Chandlers Ford. We want to provide classes that will help you not only physically, but give you time to focus on yourself and is something to look forward to and enjoy doing.

Pilates at goPhysio

There are a few things you can do to get the most from your classes too.

Pilates Instructor Francesca, shares her top tips! 

  1. Come prepared; Pilates socks at the ready, water bottle in hand!
  2. Leave all your worries and the stresses of the day at the door and turn your phone off so as to not be disturbed unnecessarily.
  3. Think of your Pilates as a whole hour to focus on yourself. Let’s face it, with the lifestyles we lead there is little opportunity for this normally. 
  4. Don’t worry about what other people are doing in your class. We will always give you different levels or variations of the exercises to challenge you and help you progress if you so wish. Don’t be concerned if you are doing a different exercise to someone else, we try to tailor the class to all of your needs. With our small classes, we are lucky enough to get to know you well, so know when you may need to modify an exercise, use an extra soft block or can’t get into a certain position and will help you accordingly. 
  5. Ask the instructor if you aren’t sure of something or you aren’t feeling the right muscle working. It may be that we can tweak the position you are in enabling you to complete the exercise with the correct technique 
  6. Why not try some pilates at home, especially if there is an exercise you are finding particularly challenging; ask your instructor to send you the exercises via email so you have an option to practice correctly at home or on holiday. 
  7. When making up a class why not try a different level to what you are used to, go back to basics or challenge yourself by going up a level. Just make sure you let the instructor know which class you are normally in. 
  8. Most of all enjoy the class and remember how far you have come from your first class to now. 


Centering – The Building Block Of Pilates

Posted on 1st December 2018 by

One of the key element of Pilates is ‘setting your centre’. In every day speak that means getting all your deep abdominal & pelvic muscles working together in harmony! This action forms the basis of many Pilates exercises. It sounds easy but can take some practice to get it right!

Start by lying on your back in a rest position and finding a neutral spine position.

Pilates abdominal setting

Finding neutral spine position

  1. Place your thumbs in your belly button, your fingertips on the pubic bone and flatten the heels of your hands onto the bony pelvic bones to form a diamond shape – the pelvic diamond.
  2. Tilt the pelvic diamond away from you to exaggerate the arch in your lower back.
  3. Tilt the pelvic diamond towards you to flatten your back.
  4. Repeat these gentle tilting movement a few more times.
  5. Now position the pelvic diamond in the middle of these two positions – this is your neutral spine position.

Setting your centre with abdominals muscles

  1. Feel your deep abdominal corset by placing your fingertips on your bony pelvic bones and then sliding your fingertips in and down 4cm.
  2. Now imagine your deep abdominal muscles forming a natural corset, criss-crossing the torso in layers. There are 10 notches in this corset, below the belly button, just like a belt. Breathe in to prepare, breathe out all the way and before the next breath in slowly and gently draw in the muscular corset from below the belly button onto the third notch.
  3. You should feel the muscles under your fingertips subtly draw away.
  4. Hold your centre and keep breathing normally. Less is better – the contraction is very gentle so don’t over do it.

Setting your centre with pelvic floor muscles

  1. Gently draw your pelvic floor muscles in and up to hold your bladder from emptying.
  2. Now breathe normally and try to keep that engagement in your pelvic floor muscles.
  3. Now place your fingertips onto your deep abdominal muscles. You may also feel the muscles under your fingertips gently draw away – this is normal!

You should practice both the abdominal and pelvic floor elements and combining them.

Once you’ve mastered it laying down, you can also practice it standing up or sitting.

If you’re interested in finding out more about Pilates or coming along to one of our specialist rehabilitation Pilates classes, just give us a call on 023 8025 3317. We have a full timetable of classes, for all levels of ability.


Why Pilates is great for runners

Posted on 1st December 2018 by

Pilates is an effective, mainly mat based, body-conditioning routine designed to increase physical endurance, flexibility, posture, co-ordination, and core strength. It involves focused, controlled movements that can be modified to create different levels of difficulty.

Pilates was developed by a German, Joseph Pilates, in the early 1900’s as a form of exercise for soldiers recovering from injuries in WW1. He then adapted it for use by gymnasts and dancers. This form of Pilates is known as ‘traditional’. There are a host of other types of Pilates too, including Reformer Pilates, which utilises equipment and resistance techniques.

At goPhysio, we teach the APPI method, which is a form of clinical Pilates. The APPI Method is a research based, clinical application of improving the way a person moves and functions in their everyday life. The traditional Pilates exercises have been broken down into clearly defined levels to ensure a standard, gradual progression towards normal, functional movement. This also helps to build a strong foundation to build and progress your core strength on. The core cylinder, the focus of all Pilates movements, consists of the four abdominal groups (external oblique, internal oblique, rectus abdominis, transversus abdominis), the three lower back groups (psoas major, quadratus lumborum, spinalis) as well as the muscles of the buttocks, hips and pelvis.

The core

The ‘core’ plays a key part for any sport – in running, the main purpose is to stabilise and support the spine and trunk, providing a strong centre for the transfer of forces. It helps to make the dynamic leg movements as efficient as possible. Strong core muscles also help to maintain good posture to maximise performance and minimise injury. Reduced core stability can cause excess movement in the trunk, through over rotation. This can lead to a poor running form, which in turn leads to increased fatigue and reduced performance potential. This is due to energy being wasted in the form of excess movement and poor control.

Pilates also has many other benefits for runners

  • Helps to identify any weaknesses that inhibit your running technique. It will provide you with muscular cues to help you fire and strengthen muscles that help you maintain a better running posture, which in turn will reduce the risk of injury and overuse.
  • A strong, balanced body helps you maintain proper form as you fatigue. Pilates helps you loosen your hips, legs and back, all helping you keep a fluid, long stride.
  • Pilates can decrease your recovery time after injury or a strenuous workout by increasing joint mobility, improving flexibility and body awareness.
  • Pilates breathing encourages you to use the diaphragm and control your inhalation/exhalations to assist with movement – this translates into better control during running.
  • Pilates helps to improve hip, pelvic and lumbar spine mobility & flexibility, through the movements and stretches.

We run over 20 classes a week at the clinic and even though they are aren’t targeted specifically at runners, it would be a great addition to your training regime to help with core strength, balance and improved mobility & flexibility.

To find out more about the classes or get started with Pilates, please call us on 023 8025 3317.

Pilates Exercises for runners

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Read more about Clinical Pilates

Take a look at our latest Pilates timetable

Our top 6 Pilates exercises for runners

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