Our last legs!Written by Erica Foulds-Capon August 1, 2019
Welcome to the very epicentre of our summer months, I hope you have had some wonderful holidays and ‘staycations’ alike, whether you found R+R at a beach side location, somewhere for fresh air, walks or some camping I hope you are feeling better for it. I am still awaiting a week of fresh welsh countryside air at end of August, hoping the sun lasts!
Part 7 brings us to the last legs of our head to toe journey in which we have been breaking down parts of the body and addressing how to use basic, non equipment exercise to improve the major joints. We have looked at joint /movement effectiveness with the intention of helping you tone and strengthen your muscles but also ward off some unnecessary common niggles like shoulder pain and lower back ache. The next and two final articles in this journey are all about the foundations on which our spine rests - the pelvis and upper legs or hips and thighs.
A house couldn’t stay erect if its foundations were made of jelly, a swan couldn’t swim gracefully without legs kicking hard below the water surface and pegs wouldn’t hold tent guy ropes if plunged into sand, equally, our spine needs foundations to move safely from A to B day to day. I often talk about the foundation of the core being the pelvis and thighs because they are what so many of our daily movements rely on, walking up or down stairs, getting off a sofa or out of a car these are all easier when our hips and thighs work! The pelvis is an anchor point of the core muscles (which we discussed two editions ago), but the pelvis is also an anchor point for our leg muscles allowing the legs to work.
The ‘power house’ of the hips are our glutes, our buttock muscles and they are a collection of muscles that I include in every single pilates class that I teach without fail. They contribute to balance, they allow you to stand up, they hold your hips to your pelvis, they can have huge potential power, they are in volume deep and dense but best of all they are quite simple to work! The thighs have two major muscles running down the length connecting hips to knees, the quadriceps (at front) and the hamstrings (at back). The thigh muscles also allow standing/walking and running, are equally powerful and rather crucially they connect our knee cap and move the knee joint! I see knee injuries quite often and commonly pain which is due to weakness of the thigh muscles, knees are a major weight bearing joint and do a lot day to day, it can be debilitating when they are painful but don’t ignore any niggles thinking as it could have a simple explanation. Seeking physio advice is your best bet when it comes to hip or knee pain, it may be a few strengthening exercises that you need to get you back on your feet and if not appropriate advice will be given to help your injury.
Here are some of my favourite and proven great exercises to not only getting stronger but keeping theses major body parts working and niggle free!
Glute bridge – lay on your back, knees bent, feet in front of hips, hands down beside hips. Tilt the hips to lift them off the ground, continue to lift, squeezing buttocks together until resting on shoulder blades, slowly return to ground. Rpt x 10.
Clam – lay on your side, one arm under waist, one arm on top of waist, knees bent one on top of other, keep heels together, lift top knee to ceiling til feeling a pinch in buttock, lower and repeat x 10.
Wall sit – stand against wall, hands held out at shoulder height, walk feet out 2 foot, sit down against wall, knees 90 degrees, pressing heels into floor and hips back against wall. Hold 45-60 seconds. Rpt x3.
If you already love pilates and sometimes want more than just one class or are new to the concept and want to learn more then we are excited to announce will be running our first ever full afternoon pilates retreat in the autumn. Info coming very soon!
Also every month we have fun social media offers (facebook, pintrest and twitter) and competitions that you can enter for free to win classes and treats! Or if you want a few motivational words to get your day off to a positive start check out our daily posts!