Stretching for Runners

Stretching for Runners

From a young age many of us have been taught that stretching prior to exercise helps prevent injury. However, with the ongoing debate about whether to stretch statically or dynamically, and before or after running, many runners are not sure on how to choose the best stretching strategy for optimal results and reduced injury.

As physiotherapists we are regularly asked questions such as:

Is it better to stretch before or after running?

Does stretching help reduce injury or pain?

Can stretching improve running performance? and

What is the best type of stretching?

It is apparent that stretching still causes plenty of confusion.

Common types of stretching.

The most commonly performed techniques can be broken down into static and dynamic stretches. (though there are many different variations of these.)

Static stretches are the type many will be familiar with from childhood sports; passive positions held for a period of time, usually twenty to thirty seconds, aiming to gradually lengthen the muscles. Typical examples are the sit and reach type stretches, such as the hamstring stretch.

As a physiotherapist I find that because these stretches can be boring, people often tend to rush through them reducing any potential effectiveness.

Dynamic stretches are a bit more complicated, involving stretching the muscles and joints whilst moving. In dynamic stretching the limbs are purposefully moved into a lengthened position, preferably one that is activity or sports specific. Examples include slow jogging on the spot while bringing the knees up the chest or kicking the heels to the backside, or a slow walking lunge.

Which should I choose and what does the research say?

Up to date research suggests that the common practice of static stretching before an athletic performance such as running may not be that useful in reducing overall injury rates. A study appearing in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sport  which analysed over 100 research papers published between 1966-2010 found that generally, static stretching before activity should be avoided as the only form of warm up. The researchers asserted that static stretching alone directly prior to exercise may have no additional benefit to injury prevention and may actually have a negative effect on maximal muscle strength and explosive performance.

Though other studies have found that static stretching may have a specific benefit to tendon and muscle injury only which may be of interest to runners, it is apparent that the best approach to take prior to running is an effective warm up session.

The warm up session should consist of a combination of low intensity aerobic activity for example a walk or very light jog (even on the spot) followed by dynamic (preferably activity specific) movements/stretching. The warm up is a crucial component of any exercise performance, especially prior to high demand activities such as sprinting and long distance running, and is important in preparing for optimal performance and reduced injury.

As the total investment of time should be similar regardless of whether a person chooses static or dynamic stretching, there are few excuses for missing a proper warm up.

Examples of dynamic stretches for running:

Some examples of dynamic stretching include walking lunges, walking bringing the knees up to chest or kicking heels to the backside and standing high kicks.

What you need to know:

• All dynamic movements should be performed slowly and with control through full available range of motion without jerky movements, over-stretching or pain.

• Each movement can be repeated a number of times for thirty seconds to one minute each as a rough guide.

• Individual programs will vary depending upon a persons requirements, as there are many more different options.

• Please see your physiotherapist of exercise physiologist to discuss your individual needs if you are unsure

Heels to backside

 

Knees to chest

 

Side to side lunges

 

High kicks

 

Walking lunges

 

 

Is there a place for static stretching anywhere?

It is generally accepted that improved flexibility can play a role in reducing injuries overall and for that reason static stretching can be used regularly as part of a healthy lifestyle or training plan at times other than directly before exercise. Read more.

It is encouraged to make an effort to stretch regularly as part of a healthy lifestyle to combat the physical demands of modern life and the negative stresses than we place on our bodies through, for example, long periods of sitting at work or using a computer. A stretching break can also provide a great escape from the hustle and bustle of life and to relax the mind, all potentially reducing the overall likelihood of injury when it comes time to perform.

This is general advice only so before getting started your physiotherapist can help you, whether you are a casual runner or an elite athlete to guide you specifically on what may be most suitable for your needs in formulating a stretching or exercise plan, or to help you address a specific complaint or injury.

Chronic Ankle Instability

Chronic ankle sprain and instability treatment

Chronic ankle sprain and instability treatment

What Causes Chronic Ankle Instability?

People who have a sprained their ankle may develop chronic (long-lasting) ankle instability. It is considered to be chronic if the ankle joint still gives way too easily six months after the first sprain, or if the ankle is sprained again within six months of the first sprain. One quarter of all sporting injuries are ankle related, and 85% of the time these are lateral ligament complex problems.

This kind of instability can develop if the ankle ligaments are overstretched or torn, and heal too loosely (mechanical instability). The interactions between the bones in the ankle and the surrounding ligaments and muscles may be disrupted too. The body has an unconscious awareness of movement and spatial orientation within the body, known as proprioception. This helps to coordinate the movements of the joints by using unconscious reflexes to stabilize them and keep the body balanced. So if an ankle feels permanently unstable, this might not only be caused by overstretched ligaments, but also by a problem with proprioception or resulting problems with muscle coordination.

Chronic Ankle Instability Treatment Options

There are a few different treatment options for chronic ankle instability. At first “functional treatment” is tried, involving physiotherapy to strengthen the joint, and possibly wearing an ankle brace or rigid tape to stabilize it.

One common approach is called neuromuscular training. The aim is to improve the stability, strength and coordination of the ankle. Studies show that neuromuscular training can speed up the healing process of ankle stability and mobility in the first few weeks. But there is not enough research to be able to say what effects this treatment has in the long term.

If the joint remains unstable despite training because the ligaments are too loose, surgery may be considered. One option is to shorten and tighten the ankle ligaments. This is not a very common approach and is usually utilized when all other avenues have been exhausted.

Chronic Ankle Instability Rehab

Chronic Ankle Instability Rehab

Chronic Ankle Instability Surgery Recovery & Rehab

Getting back to sport after surgery

Ankle instability often leads to problems with muscle coordination. For this reason, ankle exercises are a very important part of rehabilitation after surgery. Wearing an ankle brace during this time may also help. Braces not only support the joint from the outside – the pressure will also help you develop a good sense of muscle coordination again.

People probably benefit from starting movement, strength and coordination exercises two to three weeks after surgery at the latest. Studies suggest that people who do this become active again sooner than those who wear an ankle brace for six weeks and do not do any exercises during that time. In the studies, the participants who started doing exercises and strength training earlier were able to go back to work about one to two weeks sooner. They were also able to do sports again about three weeks earlier. But after about two years no advantages could be seen anymore: the stability and mobility of the affected ankle were the same in both groups.

Physiotherapy Vs surgery?

There were no studies comparing surgery directly with physiotherapy or other treatments. For this reason, it is not possible to say who might benefit most from surgery or how effective it is compared with non-surgical (conservative) treatment.

It is also not clear how the different surgical procedures compare with one another. There are only few small trials on this, and they do not provide reliable results. More research is needed to be able to answer this question.

Overall, it is currently not clear whether surgery leads to a faster recovery than strength and coordination training does. But if the ankle remains unstable because of loose ligaments, surgery might be an option. Whichever treatment you go for: with a little patience, sprained ankles usually become stable again.

If you are suffering from an ankle injury and are looking for a Sydney CBD physio contact the team at Sydney Physio Solutions who can help you get back on your feet again.

Superfoods – the Fermenting Frenzy!

Over the past decade the term ‘superfood’ has became a house-hold name and has seen many people fighting over the last bunch of kale in the supermarket! However, there is a new trend that has recently risen to the nutritional hall of fame: fermented foods.

I’m sure we all know a few friends that have traded in their morning coffee for a glass of kombucha, but is there any truth to the claims of endless health benefits associated with the ancient process of fermenting that has been practiced by humans for thousands of years? Can we supplement our physical health and performance by swapping our sweet potato for a side of kimchi? Let’s have a look at some of the facts:

What actually are ‘Superfoods’?

There is no official standard for what is classified as a ‘superfood’. It is commonly understood that any natural food containing a high-concentration of nutrients, such as antioxidants, qualifies for the title. A few of the favourites in this category include berries, acai, kale, chia seeds and coconut oil – extra virgin of course!

Despite the hype, it is important to take a holistic view of diet and exercise. Choosing your groceries based on high antioxidant content alone is not going to help you reach optimal health or that next fitness goal.

Why ferment your food?

The main reason that people ferment their food in the modern era is for the suggested health benefits that it provides. Fermentation is a metabolic process where organisms, such as bacteria or yeast, covert organic compounds such as sugars and starch into alcohol or acids.

For example: Lacto-fermentation uses bacteria to convert sugar and starch into lactic acid. This produces foods such as yogurt, fermented vegetables like saurkraut and kimchi, and cheese.

I have a ‘gut’ feeling about some of the benefits of fermented foods..

Fermented foods contain ‘good bacteria’ and microbes which can increase your gut health.

Other suggested benefits include:

  • Increasing the levels of micronutrients in foods
  • Aiding digestion. Fermented milk products for example can contain enzymes which help to break down lactose, potentially making it easier to digest for people who are lactose-intolerant.
  • Increased availability of minerals. Some natural foods such as legumes and seeds contain phytic acid, which binds zinc and iron together. This means our bodies aren’t able to utilise these minerals. The fermentation process breaks this acid down, allowing our body to use those minerals.
  • Changes taste: If you prefer a tangy or sour twist to your food, this could be for you. Similarly, the process produces carbon dioxide, giving the food a bubbly quality; like soft-drink but without the guilt.

Be sure to read the fine print

Lacto-fermented vegetables are one of the most common fermented foods in Australia. Be warned: these are not mass-produced. So if you are buying these products, such a sauerkraut, from the supermarket then chances are they have either been preserved using vinegar or the organisms are already dead. You would be much better served setting your kitchen bench up as a fermentation station, or visiting your local health-food store or delicatessen for these products.

If you do decide to ferment at home, hygiene during this process is very important as you are working with bacteria. So please take care to avoid contamination with microbes such as E. coli and botulnum, which have been linked to multiple illnesses.

Also be wary that some of these fermented products contain a high sodium content, particularly if lacto-fermentation has occurred.

The Verdict on Superfoods?

There certainly appears to be some health benefits associated with this latest craze, the most plausible being the live microbes that are added to the existing ones within our gut. This can aid in digestion and enhance our immune system functioning.

Some of the more far-fetched claims, such as reducing risk of cancer, do not appear to have any merit. In fact, the World Health Organisation has actually classified pickled foods as potentially carcinogenic.

My mantra as a physiotherapist is ‘knowledge is power’. If a client understands their condition, what contributed to it and what will help them recover, they are far more likely to achieve great outcomes. The same goes for nutrition. Be aware of whether the so-called ‘superfood’ you are eating actually lives up to the promise.

Don’t forget that correct nutrition is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to optimal health. You also need to stay active and have an exercise routine that works for you.

Feel free to give us a call at SPS, where we pride ourselves on being experts in exercise prescription and advice.

Clinical Pilates at SPS Castlereagh Street

Clinical Pilates Classes Sydney CBD

Pilates at Castlereagh Street Sydney CBD

Pilates Classes at Castlereagh Street Sydney CBD

We are excited to announce that Clinical Pilates are now offered at our Castlereagh Street physiotherapy clinic! All of the pilates classes and private sessions will be lead by our experienced physiotherapist and Pilates clinician Talia, who will provide a personalised approach to your exercise regime – whatever your fitness or experience level may be.

We are offering a variety of Pilates Classes:

  • Pilates Mat classes: These are ideal for those who are new to pilates, returning to exercise from injury or would like to focus on the fundamentals of pilates and correct core activation. You will work through a variety of exercises on the mat using small equipment to challenge your posture and core control.
  • Pilates Equipment classes: For those of you who have Pilates experience or are wanting to be further challenged on the pilates equipment, these classes progress and challenge your core control with the use of the Reformer, Trapeze Table and small equipment such as swiss balls, foam rollers and hand weights. The class is run as a circuit providing a taste of each equipment in every class. Close supervision to posture and technique is maintained.
  • Pre-natal pilates classes: Our pre-natal pilates classes are suitable to join at any stage of your pregnancy if you have been cleared for exercise. These classes have an emphasis on exercise and education to give you confidence throughout your pregnancy and into labour. Activation of your pelvic floor and deep abdominals will be taught in functional positions, as you work through a variety of exercises using equipment such as the Reformer, Swiss Ball, Theraband and small weights to challenge your stability in different postures. As the class is led by a physiotherapist it is a great chance to manage any musculoskeletal aches or pains you might be experiencing such as treating low back pain.
  • Private (1:1) and Duet (2:1) sessions: These  classes allow for more individualised sessions to introduce the participants to both mat and equipment-based exercises. The fundamentals of pilates can be consolidated and a home exercise program can be developed. These sessions afford you the freedom to book whenever suits your schedule and can be a great way to enhance your current training regime, or get you back into exercise.

To ensure correct technique and to maximise benefits from each session, we have a maximum of four people per class. This allows close supervision and the power to tailor each class to the participants needs.

Clinical Pilates Classes Sydney CBD

Clinical Pilates Classes Sydney CBD

PILATES CLASSES TIMETABLE: Next term begins 26th June 2017

TIME MONDAY TUESDAY THURSDAY
7AM – 7:45AM Equipment
8AM – 8:45AM Mat
12:30PM – 1:15PM Pre-natal
6:45PM – 7:30PM Equipment

 Pilates Classes Pricing

  • Assessment: $136 (45 minutes)
  • Internal Assessment: $FOC (30 minutes)
  • Pilates Pack Private: $655 (45 mins) (Buy 5, get 1 free)

$535 (30 mins) (Buy 5, get 1 free)

  • Duet classes $86 (45 mins)
  • Duet class pack $430 (45mins) (Buy 5, get 1 free)
  • Small group class: $41/class ($328 – 8 week term)

$33/class ($528 -16 week term)

$45 casual class

Reception can be contacted on: 02 9264 4153 or Castlereagh@ssop.com.au for further information or to speak with Talia.

Pilates and Lower Back Pain

Pilates for Lower Back Pain

Core Stability Exercise vs General Exercise for Chronic Low Back Pain

It has been well documented that Lower Back Pain, (LBP), is one of the most frequently reported disabilities (affecting between 60% – 80% of adults), we face in the community. Unfortunately, 40% of those suffering with LBP will not fully recover within the first 3 months.

As Physios and Pilates Clinicians, we see this type of presentation everyday.  A common back pain trigger can be from a poor lifting technique.  At Sydney Physio Solutions, we are continuously striving to find the best way of helping to improve the experience and recovery in this population group.

A recent study, published earlier this year, found that people with Lower back pain who undertook exercises to activate and gain control of their deep spinal stabilisers, aka “The Core”, had better outcomes in the first few months of treatment than those who didn’t.

In a nutshell……

  • “Core exercises”, (learning specific & correct activation of your muscles supporting the spine and pelvis), provide a better outcome during the first 3 months of intervention compared to general exercise alone for people with LBP.1
  • People with Lower back Pain (LBP) display a decreased activation or delay in Transverse Abdominus (deep abs), and Multifidus (supporting spinal muscles). Thus core exercises consist of regaining the strength of these muscles through specific training. 1

At Sydney Physio Solutions, all of our Pilates Clinicians are physios, and thus have the ability not only to assess your core in real time via Ultrasound, but can also guide you personally on what exercises will help and how to progress these if you suffer from lower back pain. Using this technology, you can guarantee you are receiving the most up-to-date, effective and evidenced based approach to managing your pain.

Back Pain Exercises: Low Back Pain Relief & Hamstring Strength for Squats

Looking for Physio in Sydney CBD to treat your lower back pain – Sydney Physio Solutions have two centrally located clinics in Sydney CBD as well as a clinic in Chatswood.

Reference:

  1. Brian JC, Kenneth EG, Elizabeth RN, Lindsey EE. Core stability exercise Versus General exercise for Chronic lower back pain. Journal of athletic training 2017 Vol 52 (1) 71-72.

Clinical Pilates at Sydney Physiotherapy Solutions Chatswood

Pilates Classes Chatswood

Clinical Pilates has landed at Sydney Physiotherapy Solutions Chatswood

Pilates Classes Chatswood

Pilates Classes Chatswood

Do you suffer from persistent or recurrent low back or pelvic pain?

  • A 2016 study on back pain and Pilates exercise showed significant improvements in disability, pain, flexibility and balance in patients with low back pain.
  • Multiple studies have also shown altered muscle activation patterns around the low back to be related to acute, and/or persistent low back pain.
  • Pilates exercises teach you how to effectively activate the deep core muscles of your back, abdomen and pelvic floor. Thus, helping to manage the source of your low back pain.
  • We also use real-time ultrasound to assess the activation patterns of your deep core muscles. This allows us to directly assess muscles and provide visual feedback to you.

Our new Chatswood Pilates classes are run by our Physiotherapist and Pilates Clinician, Brittney Marlowe. Our Chatswood pilates classes cater for all experience levels from beginners to advanced.

You will need to have an initial Pilates assessment prior to beginning classes, so we can identify your individual status, your needs and requirements, and goals for the term.

Health  Fund rebates may apply.

Class timetable

Monday 7.30am – 8.15am

Tuesday 1pm – 1.45pm

Thursday 6.15pm – 7pm

 Pricing

Group class (max 4 people per class)

Casual class – $45/class

One term (10 pack of classes) – $40/class (buy 9 get one free)

Private session – $98

Initial consultation – no gap*

Reception can be contacted on: 02 9419 2553 or chatswood@ssop.com.au for further information or to speak with Brittney.

To find out more about our Chatswood Pilates classes contact Sydney Physio Solutions – your local Chatswood physio.

Defying Gravity with the Alter-G

Alter G Anti Gravity Treadmill Sydney CBD

Alter G Anti Gravity Treadmill Sydney CBD

The AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill has finally arrived in Sydney CBD.

Here at Sydney Physiotherapy Solutions we understand how important it is for runners and other athletes to recover quickly so that they can continue participating in the sport that makes they love.

We are dedicated to continuously educating ourselves in order to provide the the most current and effective treatment possible. This is why we have decided to introduce the Alter-G anti-gravity treadmill to our brand new clinic at 155  Castlereagh Street in Sydney CBD.

Sydney Physio Solutions is proud to be one of the only clinics in Sydney to have an Alter-G anti-gravity treadmill.

Working with runners and athletes is a speciality here at the clinic. Many of our therapists are runners themselves which gives us an advantage when treating running injuries as we understand the sport and have the necessary experience in treating the associated injuries. More importantly, we understand that most of our athletes would prefer to keep running while injured and so we have introduced the Alter-G to ensure that we can keep our athletes running.

Advantages of the Alter-G Treadmill

  • Helps minimize time lost from training, especially those training for an event such as a marathon
  • Maintains cardiovascular fitness during rehab
  • Reduces stress on joints
  • Improves bone density measures
  • Suitable for runners who may be overweight
  • Allows gradual loading as our injury heals during rehabilitation

Specific injuries that the Alter-G is suitable for

  • Knee osteoarthritis
  • Complex regional pain syndrome
  • Fibula stress fracture
  • Lumbar disc herniation
  • Metatarsal stress fracture
  • Plantarfasciatis
  • Ankle sprains
  • Tibial stress fractures
  • Navicular stress fractures
  • All types of muscle strains

To find out how the Alter-G AntiGravity Treadmill works read more here.

Alter G Anti Gravity Treadmill Sydney

Alter G Anti Gravity Treadmill Sydney

The Alter G treadmill uses an inflatable bubble to enable users to walk and run in a reduced gravity environment. The effects of training in this environment is lowered impact on your lower body meaning a reduced risk of long term injury in addition to reducing the time to return to running post injury.

The Alter G in the Hi Performance Centre (HPC) is available to everyone whether you’re an athlete, returning to exercise from an injury or to aid weight loss.

Contact our Castlereagh Street clinic to make a booking on the AlterG Anti-gravity Treadmill machine.

Physiotherapy Castlereagh Street – Sydney CBD

Castlereagh Street Physiotherapy

Castlereagh Street Physiotherapy

Physiotherapy Castlereagh Street 

A new physiotherapy clinic has opened in the Sydney CBD. SPS Pitt St, a favourite for city physio in the CBD, has relocated and is now located at 155 Castlereagh Street.

Our Castlereagh St physio clinic offers flexible hours for those city workers who want to fit their treatment around work, right in the centre of Sydney CBD.

Sydney Physio Solutions Castlereagh Street continues to provide Physiotherapy, Pilates, Massage and sports Injury treatment, the same services you have come to expect, so for all your Physiotherapy needs in Sydney CBD come and visit our new location.

We are very proud of  our team of expert physios, our state-of-the-art technology including the revolutionary anti-gravity treadmill and we are  committed to superior service from the moment you book your appointment. To read some reviews of past clients click here.

Physiotherapy Castlereagh Street

Physiotherapy Castlereagh Street

For general physio needs for everybody, to restore function and movement after an injury, illness or an operation, for specialised sports physiotherapy to assist you with acute or chronic injuries, for advice about beginning training and dealing with pain, the provision of exercise programmes and for clinical pilates, Sydney Physio Solutions Castlereagh Street is your one stop physio location.

Our key focus is to provide you with the most effective patient care services. From your assessment and diagnosis to your treatment plan and implementation, you can rest assured you are being cared for in an honest and transparent way.

We believe in educating our clients to the best of our ability, so you’ll be involved in your healthcare every step of the way.

Physiotherapy Castlereagh Street

Physiotherapy Castlereagh Street

To contact Sydney Physio Solutions Castlereagh Street or make an appointment for our Castlereagh Street physiotherapy clinic you can call the same number 9264 4153 and for your convenience we offer the same online booking service so that you can schedule your appointment at a time to suit you.

The Best Physio In Sydney

Best Physiotherapist In Sydney

At Sydney Physio Solutions we aim to be the best physio in Sydney, providing physiotherapy, pilates, massage therapy, men’s health physiotherapy and corporate physiotherapy services. We are trusted for the knowledge and experience of our staff members. Our physiotherapists are experts in specific areas of the body so if you are searching for a physiotherapist, see an expert, not a generalist.

At SPS we offer the latest technology to assist in your rehabilitation, superior communication & the ease of online bookings in real time. We aim to make your physio experience the absolute best it could be.

100% of surveyed clients say they would refer us to friends & family: “I have been healed yet again at Sydney Physio Solutions! A wholistic service designed to super charge your recovery and give you the tools to self manage the everyday wear and tear on the body” and “Fantastic physio providing great service! Helped heal issue I had with my right hand removing the pain and increasing my quality of life. Staff are wonderful and super friendly!

Highly recommend this place for all your physio needs.” To read some of our reviews click here or more here

We have two clinics in Sydney CBD and a brand new physiotherapy clinic in Chatswood. All our clinics are staffed by highly qualified and expert clinicians whose motivation is to find the cause of your problem & return you to pre-injury fitness as soon as possible.

All clinics also contain a fully-equipped rehabilitation gym, private treatment rooms  and the latest technology such as dorsaVi and ShockWave Therapy.

Our professional and caring team of expert Physiotherapists are all highly qualified and continually engage in on-going professional development. At Sydney Physio Solutions we pride ourselves in only employing the very best physiotherapists that Sydney has to offer as your well being and recovery is paramount to us.

There is a commitment to communication with you and a customised treatment plan focusing on the cause of your complaint not just the symptoms.

With two centrally located Sydney CBD Physiotherapy clinics conveniently located on Macquarie Street and Castlereagh Street, and a brand new clinic in Chatswood, Sydney Physiotherapy Solutions provides Physiotherapy, Pilates, Massage Therapy and Corporate Physiotherapy Services using the latest state-of-the-art technology.

The Best Physio In Sydney

Sydney Physio Solutions have been providing the very best physiotherapy in Sydney for more than a decade. It all started small; a phone and a comfy room in Macquarie Street.

The ideal then and still today is never ever to compromise on being the very best physio in Sydney CBD for our patients. We’re not about being the biggest physiotherapy clinic, but we are about being the best physiotherapy clinic.

Top Tips

Each week Virginia gives us her top tip. These are quick little snippets of advice which, if followed, will make a difference to your well being. Check back regularly to see updates or, if you would like to receive these tips, accompanied by an exercise of the week, delivered by email, let us know.

# 1. This week my focus and top tip is based around the timing of the activation of your deep core muscles.  In the ideal world, your core should activate prior to any change of position, exercise or general movement.  Failure in the timing of this can lead to your body “stealing” stability from elsewhere and becoming less efficient (e.g gripping through your hip flexors).  Pick at least 5 things you do everyday, and try to activate or check your core is on before and during the activity – don’t forget to breathe!

# 2.  This week my top tip is all about your feet.  Some of you will know if you have been in my pilates classes that I occasionally go on “foot patrol”, to see the posture of your feet as you stand, sit, or lie.  Ideally we like to see the feet sitting underneath the knee, and hips in good line.  Watch for one turning out to the side, or taking more of your weight. Remember, your feet are highly sensitive and take on a lot of load when when walk – so don’t forget to look after them!

# 3. This week my top tip relates to how we breathe. Often we can get caught up with taking short and shallow breaths from the upper part of the chest, which can tighten up the muscles of the neck and shoulder, but also means that we aren’t getting the most out of each breath. Diaphragmatic breathing encourages a full deep breath, relaxes the muscles around the shoulders and means we can optimise the uptake of oxygen.

Try placing your hands around the base and sides of the ribs as you breathe, feel the ribcage expansion as you inhale, and soften as you exhale.

# 4.  My top tip for this week relates to sitting posture.  If your day involves a lot of sitting, try to ensure good posture by keeping your feet flat on the ground and your lower back against the back of your chair.  Ideally you should directly face your monitor (if you are working at the computer), without any rotation through the spine.  Shoulders should feel relaxed from the ears and chin gently tucked in.  If you can, try to change your posture regularly through the day from sitting, to standing, walking etc.

# 5. My top tip for the week is all about how we look after our spine.
The spine is a machine which is designed to move, and remains strong and flexible by staying active.  By moving around, or even just a subtle tweak to your posture through the day, you allow the spine to manage the loads placed on it.

# 6. My top tip for this week relates to relaxing the muscles around your face and jaw.  Sometimes, without realising, we tend to clench our teeth and tighten the jaw.  This can sometimes lead to pain referring into the neck and face, or even a headache.  Through the day try to open and close the jaw and allow it to remain relaxed as you work.  You may be surprised at how tight it has been!

#7. My Top Tip this week relates to your lower back.  This is one of the most commonly strained areas of the body, so needs to have some attention!  Maintaining good flexibility around the lower back, hips and thighs, along with a regular strength and cardio programme can make a real difference to spinal health.  Variation in what you do is also important, so try to mix it up every 6-8 weeks to keep your body strong and your mind motivated!

#8. This week my focus returns to maintaining your neutral spine throughout the course of the day…we are all built with different spinal curves, so it’s helpful to be aware of where your neutral position is.  Try tilting your pelvis forward and back several times to find a comfortable middle ground. This should reduce pressure building up through your back with day to day posture & hopefully improve your awareness of your body position.

#9. This week my focus is all about your balance.  Sometimes we can become reliant on one side of the body more than the other, and naturally become much stronger on this side.  When you can, try and balance on 1 leg and see how steady you are compared to the other.  Try and aim for at least 10 seconds each side.  If you are a little unsteady, make sure you are near a wall or something solid for support.  If you find one side isn’t as good, work away on this as you can to help restore similarity.

#10. This week my focus is all about your balance.  Sometimes we can become reliant on one side of the body more than the other, and naturally become much stronger on this side. When you can, try and balance on 1 leg and see how steady you are compared to the other.  Try and aim for at least 10 seconds each side.  If you are a little unsteady, make sure you are near a wall or something solid for support.  If you find one side isn’t as good, work away on this as you can to help restore similarity.

#11. My Top Tip for this week relates to your feet, and more specifically, the small internal muscles that lie within them.   Like any other muscle group, the internal muscles of the feet can get tired and weak, and can be strengthened to help offload the joints of the foot and ankle.  My favourite exercise for this I call “The toe grippers”.  Take a small towel, place it under your foot and start to grip it as if you are trying to pick it up.  Repeat this on and off for 30-45 seconds, 1-2 times per day.

#12. My Top Tip for this week relates to your hands.  Similarly to your feet, your hands work a lot through the day and the small muscles within them, (along with the larger ones of the forearm), can get very tight and tired.  Give your hands some love by stretching out the arms every hour or so at work…this may simply be stretching the fingers out or extending the forearm and drawing the palm up or down.

#13. My Top Tip this week is all about keeping active.  Don’t underestimate the impact of going for a brisk walk, getting in the pool or even doing a home based programme with small weights.  With the seasons changing and the nights creeping in earlier it may be more tempting to head straight home after work, so try to mix up your routine and try something new!

#14. This week my focus is on looking after your neck whilst at work, especially if you sit or stand a lot through your day.  Try to keep your chin tucked in just a little, and if working on a computer ensure the screen is set at the right level, just so you aren’t looking down or twisting the neck to see it.  Every so often stretch the neck side to side and reset your posture.

#15. My Top tip for the week relates to the Thoracic (middle) spine.   This part of the spine is often the area we lean forward and hunch from when sitting, typing and even texting!  As it supports the rib cage and has an important role in our posture, it is important to keep it mobile and strong.  Simple movements such as rotating the trunk as you sit, or a cat stretch on hands and knees, can keep it from stiffening up.  Lifting the chest bone up slightly in sitting, along with broadening the collarbones, can be easy ways of encouraging a little more extension and length of the spine…

#16. This week my focus is on the ribcage.  Ideally, when we breathe, there should be a slight emphasis on getting your breath to the base and the side of the ribcage.  This is called “lateral breathing”, and encourages the diaphragm to be part of the process.  You can feel this happening if you gently rest your hands on the base of the ribs as you inhale. Whether you are sitting, standing, or simply lying down, test this out and you should feel the rise and fall of the chest wall.  This can help also to activate your deep abdominals, assist in relaxation of the body and also help direct stress away from your shoulders.

#17. My top tip for this week relates to how much we rest and sleep.  With life being as busy as it is, it is important to allocate sufficient downtime,  and get to bed early where possible, to allow our bodies to slow down and recharge.  Your body is busy as you sleep repairing itself and preparing you for the day ahead…so reward yourself by getting your 6-8 hours as often as possible!

#18. This week my focus turns towards planning your exercise for the winter months.  As the seasons change, the days get shorter and more chilly, it can be harder to go for the morning or evening walk or run.  Have a few alternative options if the weather is against you that you can do inside no matter what.  Maybe try your hand at swimming, the local indoor tennis centre, or even a touch of Pilates to see you through!  

# 19. My Top Tip for this week relates to those people who stand a lot through the day.  With the option in many workplaces now of the sit- stand desk, more of us are spending time on our feet, which is great.  If you are on your feet more through the day, keep an eye on your posture and every so often check that you haven’t started to stoop or lean too heavily on one side.  Small, subtle corrections and movements through your day can make a world of difference!

#20. As winter is now upon us, try to make sure you still get out at some stage through the day to get your dose of fresh air and Vitamin D.  It can make such a difference to your day just to get outside and get the legs moving, energising you for the rest of the day.  Alternatively, wrap up warm and hop off the bus or train a stop early and get a few extra steps in on your way home….it all adds up!

#21. This week, my focus is on how we hold up the weight of our head through the day. Every morning on the bus, I look around and sure enough the majority of commuters have the head down, scrolling along their texts, reading the news or checking out Instagram posts they may have missed overnight.  Although this definitely makes the trip go faster, it certainly doesn’t help the pressure around the muscles of the neck and shoulders.  Where possible, try and take a quick break from your phone and take the time to stretch out your body.  Think about lengthening up through the spine, rolling the shoulders and nodding the head side to side.

See you in the studio,

Virginia & the Pilates team