Ask the Pilates expert
All your questions about Pilates - answered by our team of experts
I am seeing a chiropractor for a strained back and pelvic area. Should I join yoopod now or when the sessions are completed?
Normally people take Pilates classes at the same time that they see a Chiropractor, Osteopath or any other professional. Reason being is that the process may take weeks and sometimes months and it is a good idea to build up muscle tone and flexibility as well as body awareness while getting the help and adjustments from the healthcare professional.
Saying that, I would suggest talking to your Chiropractor to check if that is appropriate in your case and if so if they feel that there are any movements that you should or should not do at the moment.
At yoopod we are always happy to help one choose the right classes and exercises based on their health care professional’s advice, so please don’t hesitate to email us when you have signed up!
I am getting really bad stiff neck, shoulders and headaches as a result of breastfeeding as well as a sore back from constantly lifting my 5 months old baby. What classes would be most suitable?
All the symptoms you describe sound “normal” for this period of life when you have to hold and care for a new born… saying that, there is definitely a lot one can do to feel better and experience less pain and discomfort!
Assuming all is well and you have been cleared to exercise by your doctor at your 6 weeks check-up, I would suggest starting with the 6 weeks post natal classes http://www.yoopod.com/bumps-and-mums/6-weeks-postnatal/ and when you feel those become easy enough progress to the 12 weeks post-natal classes http://www.yoopod.com/bumps-and-mums/12-weeks-postnatal/
All of these classes are relatively short as we assumed mothers to small babies don’t have that much time on their hands… but if you do have an hour then please just run two classes one after the other. It is important that you take at least two classes a week and if you can even three. Make it a habit and you will soon enjoy the results :-)
Do you have any classes aimed at helping upper and lower back pains? My problem isn't chronic; it’s a pain that comes and goes.
As long as your problem is not chronic and you have not been diagnosed with a condition that stops you from exercising then I would assume that your pains are related to posture and habitual movements (how you sit, walk etc). This is very common and these kind of pains tend to go away when we start moving well and get stronger and more flexible.
I would suggest starting from the basics- the Pre-Pilates classes and the First Steps Beginners Course, and work your way from there. Take it slowly and make sure to do at least a couple of classes per week. If anything is straining your back at first then back off and do less. This way you should be getting better from week to week and should feel much better within 8-10 weeks :-)
I have cervical spine problems and my physio told me I can do Pilates only as long as I don’t raise my head and shoulders off the floor. Can you suggest a few effective core strengthening exercises that I could practice please?
It is a bit difficult to answer this question as with Cervical Spine problems there is also a “bigger picture” that needs to be taken into account… and this will be different from one person to the next.
Based on you saying that the physio gave the ok to start Pilates classes and that the only thing you should NOT do is lift your head and shoulders off the floor from a supine position (lying on her back) I can suggest the following core strengthening exercises (in this order):
This one can be progressed into doing the Single leg Stretch with the head on the floor. I would recommend a pillow or two under the pelvis to raise it from the floor http://www.yoopod.com/exercises/excercises-and-variations/single-leg-stretch/
If any of the above is not appropriate in terms of level then you should of course skip it.
Should I exercise when I have aches and pains?
Muscle soreness that occurs 24 to 48 hours after exercise is normal, especially if you are not used to exercising or have "pushed yourself harder"... It would be a good idea not to strain the sore muscles further with strenuous exercise but you can definitely continue with moderate exercise (and it would probably make you feel better).
There are, however, occasions when the pain or discomfort is different and can be indicative of a problem. The following "warning signals" might indicate you should stop exercising and seek some advice:
- Joint pain is different to muscle soreness and should not be dismissed or ignored. Exercise should not result in pain in joints.
- Shooting pains might indicate a neural problem and if they persist you would probably benefit from seeing an Osteopath or a Physiotherapist.
- Persistent pain or discomfort - If the pain persists for longer than two weeks or gets worse, see a healthcare professional-especially if the pain doesn't respond to standard treatment methods (e.g., rest, ice, over-the-counter pain medications).
- Persistent swelling in or around the area of pain
Pain (in most cases) is the body's way of communicating to us that a problem exists and a potential injury may be on the horizon.
Are there any substantial benefits to extra practice at home on top of my studio work?
Doing Pilates at home is always a good idea. Apart from the fact that it will help make you stronger and more flexible, it also gives you the opportunity to “own it”- be the one “in charge” of your practice. In the studio there is always a teacher checking your alignment and the precision of your work; at home you are the one in charge of your own body and this level of awareness and focus will definitely take your Pilates to new heights. Even 20 minutes of self practice a couple of times a week will make a big difference and will give you a great sense of satisfaction.
I find Intermediate classes challenging and Basic classes too easy. What should I do?
We can suggest two solutions. First is to look at the different styles offered on the site; you might find Holly's basic level classes more challenging than others and you might also find challenge in some of Amit's classes, for example class 061. The other suggestion would be to mix Basic and Intermediate classes- try doing one Basic level class a week, where you feel very comfortable and familiar, and one Intermediate class a week, where you challenge yourself beyond your comfort zone.
Is the Pelvic Floor supposed to be engaged in ALL exercises?
The question of Pelvic Floor (PF) engagement is the subject of many debates and workshops in the Pilates world… and the answer to it can be quite different from one school of thought to another. From my understanding, Pilates teachers did not really talk about the PF until about 15-20 years ago when Physiotherapy protocols started mixing with the traditional Pilates methodology, but nowadays some Pilates teachers can get quite hooked on the issue and “won’t let you move” until you know how to activate your PF.
I believe it is important to understand that whether we talk about it or not and whether we know exactly how the PF works or not, the exercises themselves- the movements you perform and the instructions you follow will all encourage the activation and the stretching of your PF muscles in the same way that they will for all other muscle groups in the body. The PF muscles will naturally engage with all movements in Pilates and so there is no need to worry about it too much. I personally prefer to think about the bones of the pelvis drawing together- the sits bones (the bones you feel when you sit straight on a hard chair) drawing towards each other and the hip bones drawing towards each other. These actions combined with “pulling your abdominals in and up” will get your Pelvic Floor working in harmony with everything else in a very organic way.
Clearly, if anyone suffers from a dysfunction of the PF, they should be seeing a specialist and should be given rehabilitation exercises that will help them recover and resume normal, healthy function.
Do you have short classes that serve as warm up to other classes?
That is a very interesting question and one that troubled me many years ago when I just started doing Pilates... :-)
We do have quite a number of short classes that can be used as a "warm up" to other, more intense classes and we also have classes that can be used as a"cool down" at the end of more vigorous classes. Saying that, there is no need really to warm up before any of our classes as a good class is always structured with a warm up within it. The approach to the warm up and its intensity will depend on the level of the class and the style-approach of the teacher but it will always be sufficient as long as you are taking a class that is appropriate to you.
If you have more time I would certainly support the idea of taking a short, relatively easy class before a longer, more intense class, but again it is not something you should think is necessary.
Hours of computer work have resulted in sensitive wrists which can be painful when doing some weight bearing exercises. What can I do?
Many people suffer from sensitive wrists these days. Hours of working at a computer and smart- phones coupled with poor posture make this a modern day “disease”.
First of all- if any exercise hurts your wrists and you can not “pull your weight up” from the wrist and stop the pain, then you should modify the exercise. We have created a video to help with that so please watch it on http://www.yoopod.com/exercises/modification-assists/wrists/ One other modification, that is not mentioned in the video, is to do the exercise on the forearms, but this will be appropriate only with some exercises such as the Front Support (plank).
As for the issue itself- a number of things may help:
- Watch your posture during the day. Sitting for long in the same compromised position will lead to stress and strain. Make it a habit to stand up/ move around/ change positions as often as possible
- Whenever you think about it, take a couple of deep breaths. Really deep… this will “lift your rib cage up” and “reorganize” you.
- Do wrist exercises whenever you can! With your arms pretty straight- pull your fingers as far back and as far under the wrist as possible- feeling the stretch in the underneath and the top of the forearm. Then try to touch each finger individually to the palm of your hand and stretch it as far back as possible. Not as simple as it sounds… The movements of the fingers and wrists will improve blood flow and circulation and will help a healing process.
- Squeezing a tennis ball (or any of the special products found in the market) can help strengthen your fingers and wrists. In the evening… while listening to music or watching TV… or while on the train/bus etc…
- Massage your forearms from wrists to elbows. No doubt that you will find sensitive spots!! Massage those as often as you can to relieve the tension stored in them. This can potentially help a lot!