The Endless Benefits Of Pilates

Pilates is one of the best exercise programs to help women rebuild their pelvic floor post pregnancy, and equally as important for women pre-pregnancy and during menopause. Pilates expert Kimberley Garlick takes SHESAID readers through the endless benefits of Pilates.

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“You are only as young as your spine is flexible,” according to Joseph Pilates. Pilates is more than you could imagine – it offers a nurturing exercise based program that can cater for all beings. Pilates is an effective rehab tool and sports performance enhancer, and works from the inside out to educate the mind to work the body ergonomically. Pilates decreases pain, increases muscle tone, improves posture, balance and coordination.

A recent Poise Pulse report revealed more than a million Australians suffer from light bladder leakage (LBL), yet 95 per cent of these females neglect these important pelvic floor exercises, which are so essential in managing and preventing the condition. Pregnancy and childbirth rank in as the number one cause of LBL, accounting for more than 80% of cases.

People mistakenly believe pelvic floor exercises are difficult or time consuming – they are neither! It’s all about adopting a routine and sticking to it to improve bladder issues. Simple things like –if you are stuck in traffic, sitting at your desk or even waiting to cross the road, seize the opportunity to do your pelvic floor muscles. No one will know!

Fire up your neurons and create balance between the intrinsic muscles and superficial muscles, and create lean muscle mass that supports your structure through movement and static postures.

The Wellbeing Workout

Exercise 1 – Pelvic clock

Start lying down with your knees raised and feet flat on the floor. Breathe in and as you breathe out settle your ribs towards the floor. Roll your pubic bone towards twelve o’clock then gently release and lower the pubic bone towards 6 o’clock.  Breathe in and slowly peel your back one vertebrae at a time towards the ceiling, in this position think of a ski slope, then slowly lower your back to the floor. Repeat x 4 focusing on your breathing. For the final move stay raised in that ski slope position, and as you breathe in, squeeze your knees together and as you exhale release your knees, repeat x 3.

Exercise 2 – Bent knee fall out

Start lying down with feet on the floor. Breathe in and as you exhale draw your belly away from your hands. Place your hands across the hips and as you exhale allow one knee to move away from your midline and inhale as it returns back to the centre, keep the opposite side still and repeat on the other side. Extend the arms to the celling and continue, keeping a stable position across both hip bones, remember to focus on your breathing. Repeat x 4

Exercise 3 – Femur arcs

Keep your hands in the air, remaining in the same position as the last exercise. Breathe in, and as you exhale lift one leg into a right angle and then place it back on the floor, doing the same with the other leg. Repeat x 4. This time breathe in and keep one leg raised in the air, as you exhale join the other leg so both the legs are in a right angle. Lower one leg, then the other and repeat x 4.

Exercise 4 – Side leg lift

Lying on your side have your elbows slightly underneath your shoulder and your arm directly out from that elbow line. Imagine that you have a hammock lifting you up from the underneath side this is really important for your shoulder alignment, ensuring that you aren’t sinking down. Place your hand in front or on your hip, or as an alternative you may like to lie the entire way down. Keep your heels together, breathe in and as you exhale the thigh rolls within the joint of your hip to open towards the ceiling and inhale as it rolls back and returns to the start position.  Repeat x 4. Next float your feet away from the floor with your knees directing down towards the floor, and the heels are up. Allow your top knee to move away, the same motion as before still rolling that thigh bone within the hip joint. Repeat x 4, then swing around to the other side and do the same.

Exercise 5 – Prone press up

Lying on your belly, place extra weight on your pubic bone and draw your stomach away from the matt as if trying to create enough space to place a blueberry. Press your hands and the forearms into the ground and inhale as you open through the centre of your chest and extend through your upper back. Exhale and return back down towards the ground, inhale and open through the chest and imagine that there is a light shining from the centre of your chest coming forward. Repeat x 4. Place your hands by your side and your bottom in towards your heels, to give your lower back a break.

Exercise 6 – Lateral lunge

Starting kneeling, take a giant step forward with your right leg, ensuring that you can see all 5 toes. Feel the tail bone curve under and there is a very gentle lean forward giving you a strong stretch through the front of your thigh.  Place the same arm as leg across the bottom of your waist, making sure that you are sturdy and steady in that hip. Reach the opposite arm up and over to enjoy the stretch and hold for 2 deep breaths. Retrace your steps and bring it back to the start position, repeating on the other side x 4.

By Kimberley Garlick, an experienced Pilates instructor with over 15 years experience. I come from a professional dance and human movement background and have extensive experience in sports science, as well as all concepts of Pilates. I attribute my success to my never-ending dedication to health and fitness through Pilates.

November 12, 2014

5 Myths About Menopause

Other than the usual hot flashes and decreased oestrogen levels, do you actually know much about menopause? There are just so many misconceptions about menopause, especially since it’s something most women don’t need to think about until they’re 50… right?

Below are just 5 myths about menopause that just aren’t accurate, and when it’s time, will show you that menopause is nothing to fear.

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1. Symptoms are only physical

Not exactly. Many of the other symptoms of menopause can often range from feelings of depression to severe mood swings. Although it might seem that these symptoms are quite broad, it is important to listen to your body and note any dramatic changes.

But don’t neglect those physical symptoms either! The most popular include breast sensitivity and vaginal dryness, which are both very unpleasant. Sometimes altering lifestyle factors such as food and exercise can help to diminish these symptoms, or at least make the bearable.

2. Menopause happens suddenly

Actually menopause is a subtle transitional period where the body settles into a peri-menopausal state, and the hormonal shifts begin to change. This could be anything from irregular periods, hot flashes, and even mood swings which we earlier mentioned. Nothing should feel completely sudden though – you will often notice that these changes have all happened with time.

3. You lose your libido

This myth most likely stems from the drop in oestrogen levels which leaves causes a sometimes painful vaginal dryness for women. But this doesn’t mean that your libido will decrease with it!

There are many ways around this, such as tablets, oestrogen creams and of course natural ways to balance your hormones through healthy eating and exercise. Entering a new stage in your life doesn’t mean that your sex life has to end, communicate your feelings with your partner, and you will certainly find that it is nothing to be scared of.

4. Menopause causes urinary incontinence

Probably one of the biggest misconceptions of menopause is the link to urinary incontinence. In fact, these two topics are not even related! 10-20% of women aged between 50-64 experience this problem due to ageing, but there are definitely ways to avoid this earlier in life.

Kegel exercises are quick, painless and discreet ways to keep the pelvic floor muscles doing their job correctly. All you need to do is contract and relax the muscles, and this will prevent any leaking during laughing, sneezing or coughing.

5. You only get it at 50 years old

A better statistic is that most women enter the period of menopause between the age of 45-55 years old. Although this of course can vary, it’s always a good idea to take symptoms into consideration, and see your doctor if you are constantly feeling under the weather. Some women 30 or 60 years of age can have menopause as well.

Image via CC Herb

October 15, 2014