Live Life better with Pilates
Pilates is so much more than exercise, it is (or should be!) a way of life. Kevin Trudeau said that ‘most people have no idea how good their body is designed to feel’ – and we couldn’t agree more! In this blog, we want to get to grips with Pilates outside the studio, not on a mat or Reformer but in YOUR everyday life, as you get out of bed, make meals, drive to work, do the shopping…. We want to show you how to move mindfully all of the time OUTSIDE of the studio, to make sure that you get the absolute MOST out of your time INSIDE the studio! Happy moving!
Pilates at your desk
Problem: If you sit at a desk all day, hunched over a computer, you know only too well how your back can start to feel ‘achy’, you feel muscle tension in the neck and across the shoulder blades
Solution: Take frequent breaks from your desk – after 20 minutes, we suggest standing up and moving! Just a minute of movement every 20 minutes will make a big difference, and gentle stretching (if you have space to do it) will loosen out those muscles.
Try not to sit cross-legged as this encourages the pelvis to twist. Instead keep both feet on the floor, weight distributed equally between the sit bones on your chair. Think about engaging the ‘core muscles’ to keep the back in a neutral straight line. Ideally, the pelvis is neutral (neither tilted forward nor back) and the ribs are stacked above the pelvis.
Try some of these exercises that you can do at your desk without anyone even guessing what you’re doing!
Sitting at your desk, engage your core muscles and relax the upper body, putting as much space as possible between your ears and shoulders. Then gently nod your chin down towards your chest as if you are trying to hold an orange there. You should feel a stretch down the back of your neck and into your upper back. Repeat the chin tilt several times without curling the shoulders or upper back to release some tension out of the neck and shoulders. Then tilt then chin gently towards the ceiling, keeping the shoulders level and away from the ears.
Sitting tall with the core engaged, tilt the right shoulder to the right ear. Then take the right hand on to the left side of the head (above the ear) and apply slight pressure to the head to stretch the neck further. Repeat on the left side.
Sit in a tall upright position, engaging your core. Circle the shoulders forward, up, down and back for 5 repetitions. Reverse the circles the other way for 5 more repetitions. The slower you go, the more tension you’ll release.
This is a great move for stretching the calves (especially if you wear heels to work!) and to get the circulation moving in the lower legs if you’ve been sitting for too long. Start by pointing the toes as far away from you as possible, and then flex the toes back towards the head – you should feel a stretch in the calf and in the shin. Repeat on both legs and finish by circling the ankle joint to the right, and then around to the left.
We take a lot of strain into the wrist while working at a computer, from typing to using a mouse to taking notes and this strain can affect the forearm as well. To stretch, take both hands out in front of your and twist the wrists in one direction, then the other. Take the left hand out in front of you, palm facing away and fingers pointing towards the ceiling. Hold the left hand with the right hand and gently pull the fingers back towards the head. Then stretch the opposite way, fingers pointing towards the floor, palm facing away and pull the fingers in towards the body. Repeat on both sides.
Try to be aware of your posture as you stand (especially when queuing in a shop, etc.), trying not to shift the weight from one hip to the other, but keeping both feet flat on the ground, distributing the weight equally. When shopping, try not to hunch over the shopping trolley – stand tall, engage your core, keep your head centred on your shoulders and keep your shoulder blades neutral. When driving, try to keep as much distance between your shoulders and your ears, avoiding rounding the shoulders and tensing the neck. When driving in traffic, put the car in neutral to avoid over clutching with your left leg and tightening the muscles of the calf.
Move with ease, move with strength, move well!
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