Let’s talk about the Pelvic Floor!

Emma (the article's author) on Spine Corrector

Recently, Pilates Can instructors Trudi, Emma, and Lynn attended an interesting workshop about the pelvic floor.  Presented by Marietta Mehanni, an award winning fitness instructor and ambassador for Pelvic Floor First.  The workshop was informative and engaging.

Did you know?

What is the pelvic floor and why is it important?

The Pelvic Floor muscles support the pelvic organs and sit like a hammock across the bottom of the pelvis.  The pelvic floor keeps our internal organs inside of our body, control bladder and bowel emptying and play and important part of sexual function and satisfaction.  The muscles of the pelvic floor also work with the abdominals and back muscles to stabilise and support your spine.

The pelvic floor muscles are about as thick as your cheek (if you were to pinch your cheek in between your finger and thumb). The tensile strength is like the webbing between your thumb and first finger.  There are two layers to the pelvic floor – an inner and outer layer. The pelvic floor has two types of muscle fibres:

  1. Slow twitch fibres (endurance muscles) which are responsible for maintaining tone and supporting the internal organs. These muscles provide “urge control”.
  2. Fast twitch fibres (fast acting muscles) that respond quickly to increase intraabdominal pressure and maintain sphincter closure. That’s just a fancy way of saying these muscles stop you wetting yourself when you cough, laugh or sneeze.

Emma (the article's author) on Trapeze tableWhat can make these muscles loose or weak?

  • Pregnancy and childbirth
  • Straining on the toilet
  • Chronic coughing
  • Heavy lifting
  • High impact exercise
  • Age
  • Obesity

How do I know if I have a problem?

Common signs of pelvic floor weakness include:

  • Accidental leakage of urine when you exercise, laugh, cough or sneeze
  • Needing to go to the toilet in a hurry or not making it there in time
  • The need to frequently go to the toilet
  • Finding it difficult to empty your bladder or bowel
  • Accidental loss of faeces or wind
  • A prolapse
  • Pelvic pain
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Poor sensation or loss of bladder control during sexual intercourse.

Emma (the article's author) on ChairPelvic floor issues are on the increase

  • Urinary incontinence affects up to 13% of Australian men and up to 37% of Australian women (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report, 2006).
  • 65% of women and 30% of men sitting in a GP waiting room report some type of urinary incontinence, yet only 31% of these people report having sought help from a health professional (Byles & Chiarelli, 2003: Help seeking for urinary incontinence: a survey of those attending GP waiting rooms, Australian and New Zealand Continence Journal).
  • 70% of people with urinary leakage do not seek advice and treatment for their problem (Millard, 1998: The prevalence of urinary incontinence in Australia, Australian and New Zealand Continence Journal).

Source: https://www.continence.org.au/pages/key-statistics.html

The good news

There is a lot you can do to help strengthen your pelvic floor.  At PilatesCan, we have a team of dedicated instructors who can help you learn the correct technique and exercises to develop your pelvic floor strength.  If you need a little extra help we can also refer you to appropriate professionals like physiotherapists who can work with us to help achieve gthe best possible results.

Give it a try!

Here’s a little exercise you can do at home to start working on your pelvic floor.

Sit on a chair, with your back a little bit away from the backrest.  Place your feet flat on the floor with knees slightly apart.  Imagine your pelvis is like a diamond shaped clock face.  The pubic bone at the front is at 12 o’clock, the coccyx (tailbone) is at 6 o’clock, and each sit bone is 3 and 9 o’clock.

  • Now close your eyes and draw the 12 and 6 towards each other. Curl the 12 and 6 in and lift them up inside you. Ensure you are breathing normally while you are doing the lift.  Your back, bottom, legs and shoulders should all remain relaxed.  Release and rest for a little while before repeating a few times.
  • Now try drawing the 3 and 9 in and up inside you. Make sure you are breathing and all the other muscles are relaxed. Release and rest.

Each pelvic floor contraction should be performed at maximum effort.  It is very important to release the pelvic floor contraction fully between each repetition.  Try and perform the lift slowly a few times.  Rest for a minute, and then try a few quick repetitions.

Repeat this exercise a couple of times a day, and you should feel results fairly quickly (within a couple of weeks)

What next?

If you are experiencing signs of pelvic floor weakness, please speak to one of our friendly team.  Don’t be embarrassed, we aren’t!  These are just like all the other muscles in the body.  We are here to help. We can design a program that is tailored specifically to your needs.

Want more information?

The following may be useful resources for you:

Maureen Bailey and Associates

Maureen and her team of physiotherapists offer excellent support in caring for and strengthening your Pelvic Floor.  Located in Griffith ACT, just a few minutes drive from our Manuka studios.

Pelvic Floor First

Pelvic Floor First has lots of useful information on the pelvic floor, where to get help, exercises to do and to avoid.  They also have a free app, available for Apple and Android devices.

National Continence Hotline

The hotline is open from 8am – 8pm, Monday to Friday, and is staffed by continence nurses.  They are a great source of information and can help refer you to the right kind of professional help.  The Helpline can be contacted on 1800 33 00 66 or helpline@continence.org.au

Continence Foundation Australia

Marietta Mehanni

Marietta’s YouTube channel with a playlist of Pelvic Floor safe exercises and tips.

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Can you really have a spring in your thorax?

You may have noticed our instructors talking a little differently lately… lots of talk about feathers, wetsuit zippers and warm breezes blowing through your ribs.  What on earth is going on?!?!

X-ray of rib cage with feathers

Recently, Claire, Kirrilly, Merina and Emma had the pleasure of attending a workshop in Sydney, called “Put a Spring in Your Thorax”.  The workshop was presented by Lisa Anthony, a physiotherapist, Polestar Pilates Educator, and all round fabulous person.

Lisa opened up a whole new way of thinking for us, presenting us with a new way of getting the most out of the body before us. This work is based on the research of Dr Linda-Joy Lee, a physiotherapist who has developed the “Thoracic Ring Approach” and “ConnectTherapy”.

What did we learn?

In a nutshell, we learnt that previous thinking about the thoracic spine being stiff and rigid is not quite right. In your thorax (the region of the body containing the thoracic spine, ribs and lots of important organs), there are over 130 movable joints.  And like any other joint in the body, we need to work to be able to stabilise the joints so we can achieve efficient movement (that is, movement that is biomechanically “correct” and pain free).

Why is this new information important?

Springs

Lisa and others have been using this new paradigm in Physiotherapy sessions with clients for the past few years, and are seeing astounding results. By teaching clients to correctly achieve stability in the thorax, a whole host of other issues in Lisa’s clients’ bodies have improved.  Things like shoulder and neck pain, lower back pain, pelvic floor issues, even issues in the feet like plantar fasciitis. Thankfully, Lisa has developed a way for Pilates teachers to incorporate these new techniques into our studios so we have the chance to achieve similar amazing results too.

What results have we seen at PilatesCan already?

In the first week since the workshop, Emma has extensively used this new information in her sessions with clients and has seen some amazing things happen.  One client who finds it difficult to walk following a series of traumatic events to the body has, in just two sessions, improved the way she walks.  She is much more stable and her legs feel lighter.

Another client who has Multiple Sclerosis was almost in tears as we were able to achieve full range knee flexion in her “bad leg” for the first time in many years.  Her gait (the way she walks) improved and she was blown away with how effective, simple and subtle this technique is and how she felt.

Over the weekend, PilatesCan ran a staff training and had fun exploring these techniques with each other.  Our instructors are keen to share this knowledge with you and integrate this new information into your sessions.  It might take a little while to “get” what we are trying to teach you (especially for those who are not particularly visual learners), however, stick with it, because this new way of working has the potential to bring a host of benefits into your life.  You will never feel the same again!

If you would like to take advantage of what our instructors have learnt then try our semi-private equipment sessions.  If you are attending our semi-private sessions then you can also access our STEPS sessions for as little as $20 per session at either of our two studio locations.

Our Manuka and Woden studios are within easy access of Forrest, Kingston, Barton, Griffith, Red Hill, Narrabundah, Garran, Hughes, Curtin, Phillip, Mawson, Farrer, Pearce, and Torrens.

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Quadruped

Our next exercise after Prone Leg Lifts is Quadruped.

This is good for  

Quadruped is an excellent exercise for so many reasons.  There are a lot of benefits – abdominal activation and control, hip and shoulder disassociation, hip and shoulder stability and strength, axial elongation, and weight bearing through joints just name a few.  This exercise is great for almost everyone, however you should avoid this one if you have wrist problems (e.g. carpal tunnel) or SIJ issues.

How to do Quadruped

  • Start in quadruped position

  • Exhale to slide one arm our along floor and lift (if shoulders are stable). Inhale, return. Alternate arms.

  • Repeat with legs moving

  • For an extra challenge try opposite arm and leg!
  • Maintain stable position throughout – shoulders and pelvis stay still
  • Ensure ab connection throughout

Things to focus on  

The main thing to focus on for this one is maintaining a good quadruped position.  Ensure your set up is good – wrists under shoulders, knees under hips, abs engaged, spine long and head in line with the rest of the spine.  Maintain that position while you breathe.  Only progress to adding the arm/leg movements when you are confident you can do so without losing the alignment through the body.

Challenges 

  • Keeping the shoulders/hips square to the mat is very challenging in this exercise. Keep the range small at first, gradually increasing the range to add challenge.
  • Keeping the spine long is difficult here. You need to ensure the torso doesn’t sag at the abs or shoulders, so keep the abs lifting in and up and press the floor away through the heel of your hands.
  • So many times we see people drop their head towards the floor here. Make sure that you are keeping the back of your head up in line with the rest of your spine.  Your neck will thank you for it.

If you would like some expert direction from highly experienced instructors then try our semi-private equipment sessions.  If you are attending our semi-private sessions then you can also access our STEPS sessions for as little as $20 per session at either of our two studio locations.

Our Manuka and Woden studios are within easy access of Forrest, Kingston, Barton, Griffith, Red Hill, Narrabundah, Garran, Hughes, Curtin, Phillip, Mawson, Farrer, Pearce, and Torrens.

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Prone Single Leg Lift (Straight Leg)

The next exercise in our Pilates you can do at home series is Prone Single Leg Lifts with a straight leg.

This is good for

Prone single leg lifts are great for activating and strengthening the hamstrings and glutes.  This exercise prepares the body to perform “Swimming” and “Swan”.

How to do Prone Single Leg Lift (Straight Leg)

  • Lay face down, tailbone reaching long

  • Exhale to reach and lift one leg off floor
  • Inhale to lower the leg
  • Alternate legs
  • Keep pelvis still
  • You should feel the base of glutes and back of thighs working
  • Move from the thighbone

Things to focus on

  • Because we want to activate the hamstrings and glutes, focus on moving the leg from the thighbone, rather than the foot.
  • Keep the leg reaching long, rather than going for too much height – this will help you to keep your low back happy by helping your pelvis stay neutral.
  • Ensure that you are lifting the abdominals in and up as you reach the leg away from the floor.

Challenges

Because of the prone position (lying face down), it can be challenging at first to maintain the connection in your abdominals.  This is because the abs now have the added challenge of resisting gravity.  Stick with it, the better you get at it, the better your pelvic stability will become.

Even though this is a leg exercise, sometimes the shoulders want to “help”.  Don’t let them!  Try and keep the upper body totally relaxed.

If you would like some expert direction from highly experienced instructors then try our semi-private equipment sessions.  If you are attending our semi-private sessions then you can also access our STEPS sessions for as little as $20 per session at either of our two studio locations.

Our Manuka and Woden studios are within easy access of Forrest, Kingston, Barton, Griffith, Red Hill, Narrabundah, Garran, Hughes, Curtin, Phillip, Mawson, Farrer, Pearce, and Torrens.

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Femur Circles

Following on from Bent Knee Fallout we have Femur Circles.

This is good for 

Femur circles are great for releasing tight hips.  This exercise can also help reduce tension through the low back.

How to do Femur Circles

  • Float legs in the air one at a time

  • With hands on top of knees, circle thigh bones in the hip socket
  • Reverse the direction

You can also do this one leg at a time

Things to focus on/challenges 

While performing femur circles, maintain a good connection through your abdominals, and keep the spine long.  Your shoulders should stay relaxed on the mat, and your torso quiet throughout. The pelvis stays in neutral position with this exercise – avoid rocking side to side or tilting the pelvis anteriorly/posteriorly.

If you would like some expert direction from highly experienced instructors then try our semi-private equipment sessions.  If you are attending our semi-private sessions then you can also access our STEPS sessions for as little as $20 per session at either of our two studio locations.

Our Manuka and Woden studios are within easy access of Forrest, Kingston, Barton, Griffith, Red Hill, Narrabundah, Garran, Hughes, Curtin, Phillip, Mawson, Farrer, Pearce, and Torrens.

 

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Bent Knee Fallout

Carrying on from Bridging our next exercise is bent knee fallout.

This is good for  

Bent knee fallout is great for those new to Pilates working on developing pelvic stability.  It is also good for teaching the leg to move without the torso moving with it (disassociation of the hip).

How to do Bent Knee Fallout

  • Inhale to float one knee out to the side, keeping the pelvis still

  • Exhale to draw the leg back in
  • Keep bottom relaxed and pelvis stable throughout

Things to focus on, Challenges  

While performing bent knee fallout, ensure that your hips stay evenly weighted on the mat.  You might like to put your hands under the back of your pelvis, so you can feel if your pelvis shifts from left to right as you move your leg.  Keep the range of the leg opening small enough that the weight stays even.

Be careful to only move the working leg.  Sometimes the other leg moves to, trying to counterbalance (i.e. cheat!).

Try and keep your bottom relaxed as you perform this exercise, and your spine as long.

If you would like some expert direction from highly experienced instructors then try our semi-private equipment sessions.  If you are attending our semi-private sessions then you can also access our STEPS sessions for as little as $20 per session at either of our two studio locations.

Our Manuka and Woden studios are within easy access of Forrest, Kingston, Barton, Griffith, Red Hill, Narrabundah, Garran, Hughes, Curtin, Phillip, Mawson, Farrer, Pearce, and Torrens.

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Bridging (Pelvic Curl)

Our next exercise is Bridging, otherwise known as Pelvic Curl.

This is good for

Bridging is a fantastic exercise with many benefits including:

  • Improving spinal articulation,
  • Activating and strengthening the hamstrings and abs, and
  • Lengthening hip flexors.

Things to focus on  

The benefits of Bridging can be best felt when you focus on getting the spine to articulate correctly.  Think of the spine as a string of pearls, as you curl the spine up in the air; imagine lifting one pearl at a time away from the mat.

After you inhale at the top, begin laying the spine/string of pearls down one at a time.  Think of softening the chest away from you to start returning to the mat.

Throughout this exercise, try and draw your knees towards your feet to engage the hamstrings.  Just as importantly, try and keep your neck and shoulders relaxed.

Challenges

Bridging can be challenging if you have tight spots in your back – it may feel as if you can articulate through some parts of the spine but other parts feel more like a plank of wood!  Keep at it, with practice and awareness you will begin to mobilise the tight parts of your spine and start to feel as if the back can move more freely.

How to do Bridging (Pelvic Curl)

  • Lie face up, knees bent, feet flat on floor, arms by sides
  • Exhale sink navel, pull pubic bone higher than navel

  • Peel spine off floor (curling one vertebrae at a time)

  • Inhale stay lifted
  • Exhale articulate spine back down to mat

If you would like some expert direction from highly experienced instructors then try our semi-private equipment sessions.  If you are attending our semi-private sessions then you can also access our STEPS sessions for as little as $20 per session at either of our two studio locations.

Our Manuka and Woden studios are within easy access of Forrest, Kingston, Barton, Griffith, Red Hill, Narrabundah, Garran, Hughes, Curtin, Phillip, Mawson, Farrer, Pearce, and Torrens.

 

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Book Openings

Next up in our exercise series we have Book Openings!

This is good for

Book openings are great for improving mobility through the spine, particularly through the thoracic region.  This is also a great one to help stretch the chest and provide shoulder mobility.

Things to focus on  

As you perform Book Openings, ensure you are moving the torso and not just your arm – initiate the move from the rib cage rather than just letting your arm pull you back.

Challenges

 If you are particularly tight through the back, it can be challenging to keep your hips stacked on top of each other as you roll the torso backwards.  Try gently pulling your top hip forwards as the torso rotates backwards.

How to do Book Openings

  • Lie on side with knees bent level with hips

  • Inhale float top arm up to ceiling

  • Exhale turn head and look behind, allowing body to follow head and arm backwards
  • Inhale hold
  • Exhale return to start position
  • Focus on rotating each vertebra one by one

If you would like some expert direction from highly experienced instructors then try our semi-private equipment sessions.  If you are attending our semi-private sessions then you can also access our STEPS sessions for as little as $20 per session at either of our two studio locations.

Our Manuka and Woden studios are within easy access of Forrest, Kingston, Barton, Griffith, Red Hill, Narrabundah, Garran, Hughes, Curtin, Phillip, Mawson, Farrer, Pearce, and Torrens.

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Criss Cross

Following on from Book Openings we have Criss Cross.

This is good for

Criss cross is a great exercise for our intermediate clients to challenge pelvic stability and to develop strength in the abs – particularly through the obliques.

Things to focus on/challenges  

Throughout Criss Cross, ensure you maintain a consistant height in your chest lift – it can be tempting as you get tired to lower the shoulders and head back towards the floor.  Each time you come back through the middle ensure you close the distance between your ribs and hips.

Ensure that you are rotating the upper body from the ribcage, not the shoulders or elbows.  Think of drawing a rainbow from the bottom of your ribs up and over the belly button to the opposite hip.

Finally, be careful to keep the weight even across the back of the pelvis.  There should be no rocking side to side in this exercise.  If you feel the weight shift through the hips, keep the legs still in a table top position and just focus on the upper body rotation (our Hula exercise).

How to do Criss Cross

  • Start with your legs in tabletop and chest lifted

  • Exhale to straighten right leg and rotate upper body towards left knee
  • Inhale return to start position
  • Exhale to repeat on other side
  • Think of drawing rib across to opposite hip each time you rotate
  • Move from the ribs, not the elbow or shoulder
  • Keep pelvis still throughout

If you would like some expert direction from highly experienced instructors then try our semi-private equipment sessions.  If you are attending our semi-private sessions then you can also access our STEPS sessions for as little as $20 per session at either of our two studio locations.

Our Manuka and Woden studios are within easy access of Forrest, Kingston, Barton, Griffith, Red Hill, Narrabundah, Garran, Hughes, Curtin, Phillip, Mawson, Farrer, Pearce, and Torrens.

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Hula

Next up in our series of Pilates exercises is the Hula!

Things to focus on  

Throughout the Hula, make sure you maintain a good connection through the abdominals.  While tempting to relax your head and shoulders back towards the mat each time you come back through the centre, your waistline will thank you if you are able to maintain your chest lift height throughout.

Another area of focus for the Hula is the work of the obliques in initiating and controlling the movement.  Think of the movement as being like a big X or a rainbow on the front of your torso. Imagine a diagonal line connecting the bottom of your rib cage on one side of the body to the hip bone on the opposite side.  The elbows and shoulders should stay well out of the way!

Challenges 

The Hula challenges your pelvic stability. If you feel your pelvis rocking from side to side as you rotate the upper body stop!   This is a sign you are trying to make the move too big!  Reset your abdominal connection and make sure you are initiating the movement from the ribs (not the elbow or shoulder).

This is good for 

This exercise is fabulous for further challenging your pelvic stability, as well as activating and strengthening your obliques. With the added element of rotation it is a great one to prepare us for activities in everyday life where we need to turn our upper body.  Great for the waistline and a great one for golfers in particular, who are looking to better their swing.

How to do the Hula

  • From your chest lift position, exhale to rotate one rib towards the opposite hip

  • Inhale to return to chest lift

  • Imagine drawing a rainbow with your ribs towards the hip bone over the top of your navel
  • Keep the pelvis stable, and the front of the hips heavy and soft throughout

If you would like some expert direction from highly experienced instructors then try our semi-private equipment sessions.  If you are attending our semi-private sessions then you can also access our STEPS sessions for as little as $20 per session at either of our two studio locations.

Our Manuka and Woden studios are within easy access of Forrest, Kingston, Barton, Griffith, Red Hill, Narrabundah, Garran, Hughes, Curtin, Phillip, Mawson, Farrer, Pearce, and Torrens.

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Elephant

Moving on from Hula we have Elephant, an exercise typically done on the reformer.

Things to focus on  

Maintain the pyramid shape through your body throughout.  The line from your head to tailbone doesn’t change as the legs move.  Before you start, make sure that your bottom is over your heels – this takes some pressure out of the wrists and shoulders, and allows a little extra stretch through the hamstrings.

Ensure you keep the weight of your legs through your heels.  This will help you activate the back of the legs as you push the carriage backwards.

Challenges 

Keep the range small.  This will allow you to maintain the pyramid shape through the body throughout.  Also, make sure you are using the abs to draw the carriage all the way back in to the stoppers, it can be tempting to cheat a little and not come all the way in!

This is good for  

Developing trunk stability (teaching the legs to move without the torso needing to help too), developing core strength, and to improve hamstring flexibility and activation.

How to do Elephant

  • Make sure your bottom is above heels to start

  • Inhale to press carriage away from stoppers, pressing through heels. Your pelvis/bottom should stay still as legs move.
  • Exhale to return to stoppers – use your abs to pull feet back under you
  • Maintain shoulder and pelvic stability throughout

If you would like some expert direction from highly experienced instructors then try our semi-private equipment sessions.  If you are attending our semi-private sessions then you can also access our STEPS sessions for as little as $20 per session at either of our two studio locations.

Our Manuka and Woden studios are within easy access of Forrest, Kingston, Barton, Griffith, Red Hill, Narrabundah, Garran, Hughes, Curtin, Phillip, Mawson, Farrer, Pearce, and Torrens.

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Diamond Press

The exercise we will be focusing on in this post is the Diamond Press. An exercise which is perfect for counteracting the bad posture habits we pick up in our busy technology driven lifestyles.

Things to focus on

Maintain good abdominal connection throughout – this supports the low back and prevents you from hinging off the lumbar spine. Keep your shoulder-blades drawn down and wide, and ensure your feet stay on the floor.

Challenges

This exercise is challenging for most people these days.  With our lifestyle of “forward” posture – working hunched over keyboards, phones and ipads, our back extensor muscles are becoming more weak and lazy.

This is good for

It is important for everyone (*unless contraindicated eg not suitable for people with certain spinal conditions) to include some sort of extension work in our workouts to maintain good posture and prevent back, neck and shoulder issues.

How to do a Diamond Press

  • Laying face down, make a diamond with your hands

  • Rest your nose in the diamond

  • Exhale to lift forehead, nose, chin then chest up away from mat
  • Inhale to return to start position.
  • Ensure low back stays relaxed throughout.

If you would like some expert direction from highly experienced instructors then try our semi-private equipment sessions.  If you are attending our semi-private sessions then you can also access our STEPS sessions for as little as $20 per session at either of our two studio locations.

Our Manuka and Woden studios are within easy access of Forrest, Kingston, Barton, Griffith, Red Hill, Narrabundah, Garran, Hughes, Curtin, Phillip, Mawson, Farrer, Pearce, and Torrens.

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Single Leg Stretch

Next up we are focusing on the Single Leg Stretch.

Things to focus on 

Maintain feet at knee level throughout (as if sliding your feet out along a table).  The torso remains still – only the legs and hand position changes.

Challenges 

This is a great exercise for our clients who have been coming to Pilates for a while.  Adding the element of the legs moving while in a chest lift position increases the challenge to the abdominals.  You can get an extra dose of low abdominal work by creating additional resistance for yourself as you draw the bent knee back in to the start position – imagine your instructor is pulling your foot away from you and you have to actively resist them and work hard to pull your leg back in.

This is good for  

Strengthening the abdominal muscles.  Developing pelvic and lumbar stability.

How to do the Single Leg Stretch

  • Start supine with legs in tabletop position.
  • Exhale into chest lift, bring left hand to left ankle, right hand to left knee.
  • Inhale to prepare

  • Exhale press left leg into your hands as you stretch right leg away from you.
  • Inhale to swap legs and hands to other leg
  • Exhale as you reach right leg away
  • Keep pelvis stable throughout.

If you would like some expert direction from highly experienced instructors then try our semi-private equipment sessions.  If you are attending our semi-private sessions then you can also access our STEPS sessions for as little as $20 per session at either of our two studio locations.

Our Manuka and Woden studios are within easy access of Forrest, Kingston, Barton, Griffith, Red Hill, Narrabundah, Garran, Hughes, Curtin, Phillip, Mawson, Farrer, Pearce, and Torrens.

 

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Grasshopper

The next exercise in our series is the Grasshopper.

Things to focus on  

Ensure the abdominals are engaged/lifted throughout to provide support to the lower back.  Move the head up away from the floor first, working down the spine as you lift away from the mat.

Challenges

Ensuring the abs stay lifted to keep the back supported.  Getting the spine to move in sequence – lifting one vertebrae at a time.

This is good for 

Developing strength and mobility through the upper back and shoulders.   

How to do it

 

  • Exhale to reach elbows towards heels, reach scapulae down and draw abs in

  • Allow the sternum to lift and thoracic spine to move into extension
  • Inhale return to start position
  • Think of lengthening the spine as you move into extension
  • Maintain lifted abdominals throughout

 

 

If you would like some expert direction from highly experienced instructors then try our semi-private equipment sessions.  If you are attending our semi-private sessions then you can also access our STEPS sessions for as little as $20 per session at either of our two studio locations.

Our Manuka and Woden studios are within easy access of Forrest, Kingston, Barton, Griffith, Red Hill, Narrabundah, Garran, Hughes, Curtin, Phillip, Mawson, Farrer, Pearce, and Torrens.

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Longstretch

Next up is the longstretch.

Things to focus on  

Keep your shoulders down and wide throughout this exercise.  Maintain a long line from the top of the head to the heels.  Avoid lifting/lowering the hips as you move the carriage in and out.

Challenges 

Maintaining the long position while moving the carriage back and forward is a good challenge for the shoulders and abs!  

This is good for 

Developing abdominal strength and trunk stability, strengthening and stabilising the shoulders.  This is a great exercise for our intermediate students as it provides challenge while requiring good body awareness and core strength.

How to do Longstretch

  • In plank position, inhale to bring carriage to stopper, body moving forward over footbar

  • Exhale press body back to start position.
  • Maintain plank position throughout – do not let your bottom lift or sink!
  • Keep abs drawing in and up.

If you would like some expert direction from highly experienced instructors in sessions with a maximum of 10 participants go ahead and try our STEPS sessions for as little as $20 per session at either of our two studio locations.

Our Manuka and Woden studios are within easy access of Forrest, Kingston, Barton, Griffith, Red Hill, Narrabundah, Garran, Hughes, Curtin, Phillip, Mawson, Farrer, Pearce, and Torrens.

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Downstretch

Following on from the diamond press we have the downstretch, an exercise which requires a considerable amount of control and strength, particularly in the upper body.

Things to focus on

ensure your abdominals and upper back extensors are continually engaged throughout the exercise. You should feel the whole back of your body working – your hamstrings, glutes, back extensors, as well as abdominals for support.

The shoulder joint is your pivot point for this exercise.  Think of the “pirate ship” ride at a theme park, or a frozen banana.

Challenges

Maintain the position through the body throughout.  Ensure the thoracis spine maintains good extension throughout.

This is good for 

developing trunk stabilisation, strengthening and stabilising the upper back and back of the shoulders.

How to do Downstretch

  • Inhale press out from shoulders, exhale return to stoppers

  • Keep the same body position throughout (remember think of a frozen banana or old pirate ship ride!)
  • Keep shoulders down
  • Glutes and hamstrings should be working (so back stays supported)

If you would like some expert direction from highly experienced instructors in sessions with a maximum of 10 participants go ahead and try our STEPS sessions for as little as $20 per session at either of our two studio locations.

Our Manuka and Woden studios are within easy access of Forrest, Kingston, Barton, Griffith, Red Hill, Narrabundah, Garran, Hughes, Curtin, Phillip, Mawson, Farrer, Pearce, and Torrens.

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Side Lying Single Leg Swings

Following on from Side Lie Single Leg Lifts we move onto Side Lying Leg Swings.

Lying on your side is a difficult position to stabilise the body and makes this exercise a challenge for the abdominals.  When performing this exercise you must ensure you are keeping the pelvis as still as possible.

This exercise is good for developing good pelvic-lumbar stabilisation, increasing control and flexibility of the hip flexors and strengthening the glutes.

How to do Side Lying Single Leg Swings

  • Start on your side, arm under your head for support. Place your other hand on the floor in front of you.  Your legs can be bent (great start position) or long (increasing the challenge).
  • Draw your tummy in and up; remember you are aiming to minimise pelvic movement.

  • Gently swing the leg back and forth whilst keeping the pelvis stable.

  • Repeat on the other side.

If you would like some expert direction from highly experienced instructors in sessions with a maximum of 10 participants go ahead and try one of our $14 trial sessions, at either of our two studio locations.

Our Manuka and Woden studios are within easy access of Forrest, Kingston, Barton, Griffith, Red Hill, Narrabundah, Garran, Hughes, Curtin, Phillip, Mawson, Farrer, Pearce, and Torrens.

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Single Leg Slides

Single Leg Slides, like Chest lifts and Dead Bugs, are another good starting point for those new to Pilates.

Whilst performing Single Leg Slides you are activating/strengthening your deep abdominals and hamstrings as well as increasing your pelvic stability and body awareness.

How to do Single Leg Slides

Begin on your back with knees bent. Exhale and slide one foot out along floor.

Inhale and hold.

Exhale and return to start position, imagining you’re dragging your heel through sticky mud.

Keep the pelvis still and back relaxed throughout.

If you would like some expert direction from highly experienced instructors in sessions with a maximum of 10 participants go ahead and try one of our $14 trial sessions, at either of our two studio locations.

Our Manuka and Woden studios are within easy access of Forrest, Kingston, Barton, Griffith, Red Hill, Narrabundah, Garran, Hughes, Curtin, Phillip, Mawson, Farrer, Pearce, and Torrens.

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Chest Lifts

Chests Lifts are another foundational Pilates exercise. It strengthens the abdominal muscles and helps develop pelvic stability and control.

While Chest Lifts resemble the crunch, the pace is much slower. This means movement is driven by the strength of the abdominals and the position of the spine and pelvis.

How to do Chest Lifts

  • Lie face up, knees and hips bent with feet in the air (or keep the feet on the floor for more support). Place hands behind your head.

  • Inhale to prepare. Exhale and draw up the pelvic floor, sliding your ribs down towards hips. As you do this lift your head and upper body away from mat.
  • Inhale and hold.
  • Exhale and return upper body and head to the mat. Keep your tailbone weighted on the mat throughout the movement.

If you would like some expert direction from highly experienced instructors in sessions with a maximum of 10 participants go ahead and try one of our $14 trial sessions, at either of our two studio locations.

Our Manuka and Woden studios are within easy access of Forrest, Kingston, Barton, Griffith, Red Hill, Narrabundah, Garran, Hughes, Curtin, Phillip, Mawson, Farrer, Pearce, and Torrens.

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Our Pilates Beginners Course Has Changed

Throughout the past few months there have been many changes at PilatesCan including our Pilates Beginners Course. 

Originally a 6 week course, you now progress through the foundations of Mat Pilates in 4 weeks.  You will then be ready for the intermediate Pilates Mat exercises offered in our Continuing Matwork sessions.

Why try a Pilates Beginners Course?

Pilates provides fantastic benefits for participants including: increased core strength and flexibility. This  invigorates participants to move freely with less pain and more efficiency.

This makes Pilates beginner courses the ideal environment to introduce people to Pilates and its benefits as you progress through its foundations.

In addition to these benefits a Pilates beginners course will also:

  • Provide positive reinforcement of good exercise habits – particularly if scheduled at the same time on the same day.
  • Build on basic movement patterns and techniques in a safe environment whilst moving towards more difficult and intense exercises over time.
  • Provide a chance to personally experience the benefits of Pilates.
  • Give the instructor a chance to learn about your body and mind connection. This allows for more personal direction and progression over time.

Pilates beginners courses in Canberra are the most cost effective, when delivered properly in a professional Pilates Studio environment, like PilatesCan, by highly experienced and specifically qualified Pilates instructors. Pilates is also a very different and exacting exercise when compared with what is available at many gyms in Canberra.

At PilatesCan Manuka and Woden we introduce you to Pilates in the most beneficial way possible. When you continue your Pilates journey with PilatesCan you can be assured you will be looked after more individually, as instructors will have more time for you personally in the small group environment as the studio’s approach is to encourage all generally healthy Pilates beginners to do a “Beginners Pilates Mat Course”.

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Key Principles of the Pilates Method

8 Principles of PilatesPilates may seem like a new phenomenon due to its increasing popularity over the past decade but it has been around since the early 20th century. Taking its name from its creator Joseph Pilates, it was originally developed to help German soldiers recover from injuries sustained during the First World War.

Moving to the USA after the war, Joseph continued developing his technique, focusing on 8 key principles.

8 Principles

Centering: This refers to the body’s core or “powerhouse”. It is the main focus of Pilates as this is where all energy for exercise comes from.

Concentration: With a strong mind-body connection you are able to become more focused and mindful of each movement. This allows for you to receive the most value from each exercise and an increase in body awareness.

Control: By focusing on your centre and concentrating on each movement you will gain more control of each movement. Each exercise will be performed in a safe and correct form, allowing you to gain maximum physical value.

Precision: While repetition is good, practise will not make perfect if done incorrectly. Precision is important in Pilates as you will not only gain more, but also perform them in a safe manner.

Breath: Learning how to breathe properly helps increase blood and oxygen circulation.

Flow: This refers to continuous, smooth movement and ease of each transition, which helps build strength and stamina.

Alignment: By maintaining good posture and body awareness, each movement becomes easier.

Integration: The 8 principles refers to uniting all of the above in order to make your muscles work together and support each other. This is how you develop more efficient and functional movement.

To hear from some of our clients who have benefited from Pilates and its core principles head to our testimonials page.

If you’d like to get started on learning how to incorporate these principles contact us now!

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Side Lie Single Leg Lift

Today’s exercise is the Side Lie Single Leg Lift which is help’s achieve pelvic stability and is good for the obliques. Lying on your side is the most difficult position to stabilise the body, so this is a great way to start challenging the abdominals in our beginners mat classes.

How to do Side Lie Single Leg Lift

  • Begin by lying on your side with legs reaching long to the front of your mat.

  • Exhale and draw your waist in like a corset tightening, then reach your top leg away from you and up in the air.
  • Inhale and return the leg, releasing the abs.
  • As you move your leg think of reaching it long rather than high. Your leg should stay lower than hip height throughout.

If you would like some expert direction from highly experienced instructors in sessions with a maximum of 10 participants go ahead and try one of our $14 trial sessions, at either of our two studio locations.

Our Manuka and Woden studios are within easy access of Forrest, Kingston, Barton, Griffith, Red Hill, Narrabundah, Garran, Hughes, Curtin, Phillip, Mawson, Farrer, Pearce, and Torrens.

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Dead Bugs

Here at PilatesCan we love everything about Pilates and enjoy spreading this love to as many people as possible. Which is why we’re starting a new blog series looking at specific exercises that can easily be done at home.

First up is Dead Bugs!

This is a great exercise for strengthening those core muscles in order to bring greater stability to the lower back and pelvis and is featured in our beginner’s course as one of the foundation exercises. It focuses on building up core strength whilst keeping the spine neutral and pelvis still.

How to do Dead Bugs

Begin by lying on the floor, arms by your side, knees bent, and feet on the floor. Inhale to prepare.

As you exhale float one knee above your hip, activating your abdominals at the same time. Inhale and hold. Exhale and lower the foot back to the floor.

Make sure your knee stays at the same angle as the leg moves, your back is heavy on the floor and your pelvis is stable and still throughout this exercise.

You can do this exercise at home with minimal risk, depending on your body and any injuries you may have.

If you would like some expert direction from highly experienced instructors in sessions with a maximum of 10 participants go ahead and try one of our $14 trial sessions, at either of our two studio locations.

Our Manuka and Woden studios are within easy access of Forrest, Kingston, Barton, Griffith, Red Hill, Narrabundah, Garran, Hughes, Curtin, Phillip, Mawson, Farrer, Pearce, and Torrens.

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Post-Natal Pilates Testimonial

“With these Pilates Post Natal sessions, I am starting to feel like my old self again”

“It’s amazing what a difference this Pilates post-natal class has made.  I am already feeling much stronger, more connected”

Just some of the comments heard from our participants by our wonderful instructor Emma during our Post-Natal Pilates Beginners Course.

In our Post-Natal Pilates Beginners Course new mothers learn how to deal with abdominal separation and waking up there pelvic floors, and postural techniques for breastfeeding, carrying and lifting baby.

Having started up earlier this year our Post-Natal Pilates Beginners Course has been an incredible success. Thanks to wonderful instruction and support from our instructor Emma, we have created a supportive and friendly atmosphere for all involved.

Hear what our clients have to say

Check out the video below for a first-hand account on how beneficial our Post-Natal Pilates Course can be.

Join our Post Natal course

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Meet Kirrilly: Principle Pilates Instructor

One of our Principle Pilates instructors, Kirrilly has been with PilatesCan since 2004, back when we were called Pilates Manuka. Having experienced the benefits of Pilates for injury rehabilitation first hand, Kirrilly was inspired to change careers.

Kirrilly is passionate about spreading awareness of the Pilates Method with a particular focus on rehabilitation. Kirrilly continues to strive for perfection in her own body as well as those of her clients. It is Kirrilly’s ambition and reward to help improve physical deficiencies, relieve pain, facilitate and enhance effective movement and strength, and boost self-esteem.

Kirrilly has completed over 15,000 hours of  professional Pilates instruction. In addition to this experience, Kirrilly continues to widen her knowledge through regular workshops, conferences and courses.

Qualifications

  • Pilates Certification from Pilates ITC (International Training Centre) in Sydney
  • Diploma of Professional Pilates Instruction
  • Internationally recognised Advanced Diploma in Pilates Method (highest Pilates qualification in Australia)
  • Registered Principle Level Pilates Instructor with Pilates Alliance Australasia (Highest Instructor Level Achievable)

See Kirrilly in action as an instructor with her client Samantha here.

You can find out more about how you can benefit from Kirrilly’s abundance of knowledge here, or contact us using the form below.

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PilatesCan Flash Sale

Flash sales offer a 50% discount to new starters who would like to try out a couple of our mat Pilates or our Pilates Fit session.

If you are quick enough you will be able to purchase your 50% discount here.

Once the flash sale finishes then the links on that page will not be active 🙁

Register below so you don’t miss out again 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

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Post-Natal Pilates – at PilatesCan

“With these Pilates Post Natal sessions, I am starting to feel like my old self again”

“It’s amazing what a difference this Pilates post-natal class has made.  I am already feeling much stronger, more connected”

Just some of the comments heard from our participants by our wonderful instructor Emma, during our Post-Natal Pilates.

Clients found the course to be of great assistance for waking up their pelvic floors.  They have learnt how to deal with “abdominal separation”, as well as techniques to help with posture when breastfeeding, carrying and lifting baby.

Join our Post Natal course

A former client of PilatesCan, Emma has been an instructor with PilatesCan since 2007, and has a Cert IV (now a diploma) in Pilates Instruction through Pilates International. Through a combination of her knowledge, the Pilates system, and observation of the client movement patterns, Emma is able to see bodies changing for the better.

As someone who benefited greatly from Pilates during pregnancy and in the Post-Natal stage, Emma understands the pressures new Mums are going through and is the perfect instructor for our Post-Natal Pilates classes.

“I love being able to give Mums the opportunity to get moving again, and having babies come along to our classes is extra special … I get my fix of baby cuddles, while the Mums work out. What’s not to love?”

Why join in?

Our Post-Natal Pilates is a wonderful way for new mums to start the process of getting fit again, through restoring muscle strength, focusing on functional movement that matters far more than just appearance to new mums,  These benefits also assist mental well-being.  In addition to all this our classes encourage opportunities for new mums to socialise and make new friends. In fact many of our mothers from the first group are coming back for another round!

This course is also conveniently located at our Woden studio which has a lift so you can bring your strollers up to the studio with you. No need to worry about childcare as you can bring baby with you!

So if you are a new mum or know someone who is and are looking for a way to ease yourself back into exercise why not give our Post-Natal course a try.

Join in here!

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