As baby boomers - those born between 1946 & 1964 move from child-rearing to retirement, they find themselves bombarded by the media with information about osteoporosis. It makes sense, considering  75 million American men and women age 50 and older in Europe, the USA and Japan have osteoporosis or its precursor, osteopenia. So between news articles about calcium and vitamin D; along with adverts for medication as well as the benefits of  “weight-bearing exercise,” showing up everywhere, we're all hearing a great deal about this epidemic.

The Solution?

Nobody seems to agree on the best path to take, the research appears contradictory.  The only thing everyone agrees on is the benefit of exercise for Osteoporosis sufferers.  Not only will exercise help maintain and build strong bones, it can improve balance and reflexes thereby prevent falls, the most dangerous threat to those with fragile bones.  According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, 60% of those who fracture a hip still cannot walks independently a year later.  Clearly the goal is to stay strong, agile and upright.

Pilates Benefits for Osteoporosis

As Pilates has gained recognition in the medical and mainstream realms as a beneficial form of exercise to address every concern from back pain to love-handles, boomers have jumped on the bandwagon. Specifically, many have heard Pilates is a great bone-strengthening addition to a fitness regime. However if Osteoporosis or Osteopenia is a concern care must be taken when exercising.  In particular exercises that require flexion (forward bending) of the spine need to be avoided.  This type of movement has been proved (Mayo Clinic 1984) unsafe for those suffering with the condition, increasing the potential for spinal fractures.

Why Pilates for Osteoporosis?

Alignment is a major feature in all Pilates classes.  Elongating the spine, setting it up with the Pelvis, Hips, legs, feet, shoulders and head.  What better way to combat slouching than to focus on posture and spinal decompression?  In addition, breathing and concentration are crucial to every exercise.  When you are grounded in your mind your body will respond accordingly.  With this added awareness and concentration you may be less likely to trip.

Balance & Control

Balance and control play a large role in the Pilates repertoire.  Whether you're on the mat or using the Professional Pilates equipment.  Pilates is a whole body experience promoting symmetry in muscles together with good body mechanics.  With the continuous emphasis on the deep abdominals (core) those deep stabilising muscles in the low back and pelvis.  When these muscles are active and effective enough to support the body in movement, less effort is needed to maintain and upright posture reducing the risk of falling.

Is Pilates Safe for Osteoporosis Sufferers?

So should you avoid Pilates if you have osteoporosis or osteopenia? Certainly not. You do however need to ensure your teacher is well trained, with experience dealing with your condition.  Consider  attending a class geared toward those with the condition, especially if it's a group.  At the very least, avoid the rolling exercises or ones that involve bending forward or uncontrolled movement. Also, while lying on your back, keep your head on the ground, perhaps with a small towel underneath, when others are lifting their heads off the mat.  A good teacher will always give this option even for those without bone density issues.

What Can you Do Safely?

On the positive side, all exercises done lying on your side or stomach, as well as on hands and knees, are excellent to do. Just inform your teacher before class about your situation. Private Pilates sessions are excellent for those with osteoporosis and osteopenia for the reasons mentioned above as well for the increase in flexibility. You just need to be aware of necessary modifications, as well as knowing that your teacher is knowledgeable . The benefits of Pilates are numerous just take responsibility for your condition.

In Conclusion Pilates & Osteoporosis

Remember:

Exercise is recommended by the Osteoporosis Society - it's a proven way to maintain quality movement.

For further information and help with Pilates and Osteoporosis contact me at Nuala@nualacoombspilates.com

Throughout the year you might decide to make some changes either to lifestyle, work or unhealthy habits.  In order for change to take place to become automatic habits 6 Stages of Change occur whether of not you are aware of them.

The 6 Stages

Pre-contemplation:  Ignorance is bliss!  you're unaware of the need to change and have no desire to do so.

Contemplation:  Either you've decided you need some change or maybe friends of family have mentioned maybe it's time, especially if they consider what you're doing is damaging to your health, or relationships.  This stage can take a while so in order not to be prevented completely from moving forward remind yourself why you want the change or the new habit and the benefits it will bring.

Preparation:  Your thinking about it - reading books, talking to people you think might help or who already have the habit you want to develop.  All these things will help you decide when you'll be ready to begin.

Action:  You've started to make some changes although you're aware you're having to focus to keep up the change.  Keep reminding yourself about the positive feeling your new habit is giving you.

Maintenance:  Your beginning to feel a lot more confident you can continue with this new regime, you're managing to deal with small relapses.  This stage can be challenging and requires commitment.

Relapse:  It's human nature that challenges will present themselves and from time to time you may give in to them, but be assured that once you return to your new habit it will come back faster than the first time.  However, remember the 6 stages and remind yourself why you wanted the change and the benefits it brought to you.

Your ultimate goal is to make this change an automatic action, something requiring no specific thought or choice.  Remember,  a newly constructed wall is easily knocked down, but the longer it stands the harder it is to push over - just like your new habit.

In Conclusion

So you've heard about Pilates in the media, or you may have seen posters where you exercise, you may even have passed by my studio in La Grade Freinet or other studios where you live and wondered what it's about and is the hype true.  Your wondering "what can Pilates do for me"?

I've been a student, teacher and teacher trainer of Pilates for more years than I care to admit to and I can say it's a system of exercise I've never become bored with or surprised when clients or student teachers realise how effective it is when practiced consistently.

Whether you're new to Pilates and exercise in general or are a regular exerciser the benefits of Pilates are clear for everyone whatever their needs.  It's generally accepted there are 6 Pilates Principles although some schools mention 8 or 7 - this is because Joseph Pilates the creator of the technique didn't set down these principles but teachers who continued with his system thought a set of defining formula would be helpful for people trying to understand the technique.

PILATES PRINCIPLES

Concentration:  A fundamental principle - Pilates is a mind and body programme.  When you work with concentrated effort focus and body awareness are heightened.

Centering:  Pilates is practiced from the deep abdominals - those abdominals that stabilise the body, once they're active the more superficial muscles can move the body safely under load.

Control:  When Joseph Pilates developed his technique he called it Contrology.  The aim of the technique is to work in such a way as to reduce the risk of injury from uncontrolled, sloppy movements.  This doesn't mean the exercises are performed super slow, just from the inside out with consistency and quality.

Breathing:  A full breath is recommended during all Pilates exercises not only to keep you alert but also to help with the coordination, timing and rhythm of the movement.

Flowing Movement:  The aim of a well organised Pilates class is to create a smooth, fluid transition between movements that creates a great sense of wellbeing as well as a stress free workout.

Consistency is Key

Taking into account the Principles it's easy to see how regular Pilates classes can help to ease stress, strengthen, tone, mobilise and improve flexibility.  All these qualities will improve your sports and reduce any potential for over use injuries.  Consider how many times you serve during a game of tennis or swing the golf club around 18 holes.

Benefits to You

Clients of all ages tell me how well they feel after a class using both the mat work system as well as the professional equipment, they tell me how their sleep has improved, how previously stiff joints are more mobile how their balance has improved, their game of golf no longer leaves them with low back pain and of course how their posture and body awareness has improved.

Pilates is Not The Circus!

Don't be mis-lead by those acrobatic photos you've seen in magazines or on youtube, Pilates is for everyone whatever their fitness level.  All of the repertoire can be modified to help those with particular issues or delivered in a very athletic way for those who want to improve their fitness level.

Pilates is not "a good stretch" it is a full body technique to help you achieve whatever health and fitness goal you want.

So next time you pass that Pilates studio or class pop your head in - get some more information.

As usual if you need more information or have questions contact me at Go2nuala@mac.com

In Conclusion

Golf is truly a mind & body sport.  Concentration, strength, flexibility, mobility and power are all essential components.  The workload placed on the spine and supporting structure is immense.  When the body is out of balance the risk of injury intensifies.

The Mechanics of Your Golf Swing

During your golf swing your body acts like a whip.  Power production begins at the feet, pushing against the ground, it travels up the legs to drive the hips forward.  Force is transferred through the trunk to the chest upper back and arms.  If any part of the chain is weak or stiff power is lost, the body will have to compensate somehow along the links of the chain resulting not only in loss of power but increasing the potential for injury.

Proper Sequencing - Your Golf Swing:

Your golf swing demands a strong, flexible, coordinated and balanced body.  It's a physically demanding full body sport; only with specific training will injuries be avoided and improvements made to the quality of your performance.  Even if you hire a professional golf coach to work on your technique, if your body is not capable of performing the drills because of stiffness, lack of core strength of mobility problems progress will be slow, at worse may never happen.

To obtain proper sequencing of the Swing Action you will need:

Strong leg, thigh and hip muscles to generate driving power:

These lower body forces must be transferred through a well conditioned mid-section to the upper body

Strong chest, back and shoulder muscles:

Allow for greater acceleration of the club whilst maintaining control through effective arms and forearms

You can see a perfectly executed golf swing needs overall body strength, flexibility and co-ordination - all Pilates principles are relevant.

Concentration, the ability to focus throughout the swing improves skill and power

Centering, the efficient use of the core to stabilise improves power through the hips to increase the length of Tee and Fairway shots.

Precision, the repetitive nature of golf demands consistency, working with this Pilates principle in mind will encourage exact performance every time.

Flowing Movement, will help you to "feel" the swing as opposed to just hitting the ball

Breath, in addition to keeping you fresh and alert throughout your game learning to use a full breath will increase the power and endurance of a shot.  It will also help to create a smooth swing.

Routine, if you can replicate an effective swing pattern, consistency and accuracy, key to a great game of golf will be yours.  The Pilates system of exercise is designed to help you work with focus when performing each movement every time this will eventually result in body awareness becoming automatic.

Studio Pilates La Garde Freinet

Pilates Programming:  when you decide to add Pilates to your golf practice, here at the Studio in La Garde Freinet ( just opposite Bar du Soleil) you'll work with both the professional Pilates equipment as well as floor exercises, the combination of the two systems offer a complete workout whether you're new to exercise or a regular fitness practitioner.

In Conclusion

To develop your best Golf Swing sequence you need to:

Contact me should you have questions or need an appointment I am here all year.

Tel:  06 73 99 37 85  email:  Nuala@nualacoombspilates.com

Happy Golfing.......

It's an important question, one to be taken seriously.  It's been proven ladies who exercise during pregnancy are more likely to have a less stressful delivery.  Pilates during pregnancy is the perfect low impact exercise programme during this time - it's recommended the all clear to exercise be given by a medical practitioner.

What are the Benefits?

Pilates targets the areas most effected during pregnancy - posture, back pain & balance.  The fundamental benefit of a Pilates programme are these areas.  With the controlled, precise movements using a full breath, the system not only strengthens, but helps to mobilise and stabilise.

Exercise Considerations

Second Trimester

Hormone Relaxin

Yes to Exercise

Exercising during pregnancy has many benefits, not least the "me" time for the Mother as well as the improved sense of wellbeing.  The effect on posture cannot be under-estimated.  As the pregnancy develops there's a propensity for the pelvis to tilt forward - left unchecked this can cause compression in the low back resulting in pain.  Regular Pilates classes will help strengthen postural muscles particularly the abdominals to avoid excessive forward tilting.

So the answer is a big YES to using Pilates as an exercise system throughout pregnancy with modifications as it progresses.  I've had clients attend classes up until their delivery dates.

Post Partum

In Conclusion

If you have any particular questions regarding Pilates and Pregnancy just ask - Nuala@go2nuala@mac.com

Why Pilates?

You may have been thinking about doing Pilates but you're not sure about the benefits, after all it's more expensive than most exercise classes available to you.   Here are a few reasons that may help you make a good decision:

  1.  Improve Your Game:  Whether that's Golf, Football, Rugby, Tennis or any other sport you may enjoy.  Regular Pilates will stabilise your Pelvis and Shoulder girdle to reduce the risk of injury from repetitive behaviours like hitting the golf ball numerous times during a round, or over extending your back when you serve that tennis ball.  All Pilates exercises require concentration to create the best alignment of the upper and lower body before the challenge of movement.  Concentration is a fundamental principle of the Pilates technique.
  2. Increase Range of Motion:  When you practice Pilates regularly you'll find improvement in the flexibility of your muscles which in turn will allow your joints to move more freely. This is particularly important for sports recovery and as we age.  Not everything has to be about living life dynamically - our everyday activities require us to be mobile and flexible to reach for the top shelf or turn around to reach something on the back seat of the car.  Of course if you play sport you'll need speedy reactions as well as the ability to move instinctively.  Pilates is a full mind and body exercise programme that will help you improve and maintain mobility and flexibility, balance and coordination in your daily life.
  3. Help You Avoid Low Back Pain:  We all sit too much, whether that's at our desk job or we need to drive long distance frequently.  Sitting for long periods of time effects the muscles in our legs and hips which in turn affects our low back by pulling the pelvis into a backward tilt.  Learning how to activate your deep stabilising muscles in the correct sequence with your larger more superficial muscles will not only improve your posture but with regular practice, your brain will register the movement pattern for best placement of your hips and shoulders to avoid the low back pain associated with poor posture.
  4. You Don't Need Special Kit:  Unlike many sports and exercise programme you can take a Pilates class without expensive shoes or clothing.  As long as what you wear allows you to move freely that's all you need to think about.  There's no dress code.!
  5. Everyone Is Welcome:  Pilates is a great exercise system.  It's adaptable to all ages and fitness levels.  From 18 - 80+ there's a programme for you.  Many sporty people feel the need to stop as they age because of various issues with joints and muscles - this is not the case for your Pilates practice.  Exercises can be modified to suit your individual needs even if it means you decide that a 30 minutes session is most effective .

So there you have it - there are many more good reasons to begin your Pilates practice but these are just a handful to set you thinking.

Any Questions just email - Nuala@nualacoombspilates.com I'm here to help.

Healthy Ageing - it's up to you

It comes to us all - each year as we celebrate our birthday we start to notice changes occurring. It could be our first grey hair letting us know something is going on. How we respond to the rising numbers is up to us. Assuming we're healthy with no underlying health issues, our attitude and mindset, diet, exercise regime and sleep pattern all play a significant part in our process.

You may accept you're older but don't consider yourself old. You find some things not quite so automatic as they used to be - don't fall into the trap of thinking this is because of your age - growing older does not necessarily mean you're going to lose your independence or become less mobile. That stiffness you feel bending down to pick something up, or getting out of a chair probably has more to do with you being inactive than a direct result of your age.

Lowering Expectations

As we age it's easy to lower our expectations with regard to movement and exercise, becoming more sedentary due to health reasons, pain or just feeling age and slowing down are the natural way of things. I'm here to tell you it's never too late to start moving. The saying "use it or lose it" springs to mind.

HEALTHY BODY HEALTHY MIND

My book with the same name will help you understand what's going on in our body as we age - with some good information you can stay healthy, vibrant, productive, active and energised. it's your choice.

It's available from Amazon in Kindle format and paperback - just search for my name - Thanks




Click on my book

PILATES FOR PARKINSON’S DISEASE

History

Parkinson’s Disease is a condition that has been known about since ancient times. It’s referred to in the ancient Indian medical system Ayurveda in the name Kampavata. It’s also mentioned in the oldest Chinese medical texts as well as those of the ancient Greeks, Romans as well as the Old and New Testaments. So it’s clear the disease has been with us for many years.

However it was not until 1817 that a detailed medical essay was published on the subject by a London Doctor James Parkinson. His intention was to encourage study of the condition to help those with what he termed the “Shaking Palsy”. Sixty years after the publication a French neurologist named Jean Martin Charcot truly recognised the importance of Parkinson’s work and named the disease after him.

What Is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological condition. Simply put, it causes problems in the brain and gets worse over time. People with Parkinson’s do not have enough Dopamine because some of the nerve cells that make it have died. It’s not clearly understood why this occurs, but researchers think it’s a combination of genetic and environmental factors that cause the Dopamine producing cells to die.

Dopamine is a chemical messenger that transmits signals to the part of the brain that controls coordinated movement. When these cells die other movement control centres become unregulated. It’s this disturbance that causes the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease.

Symptoms

Initially, the symptoms will be mild then progress over time. Common Symptoms are:

Tremor in a resting limb
Slowness of movement
Rigidity
Poor balance and coordination
Small handwriting
Shuffling walk
Stiff facial muscles
Muffled Speech
Depression

There can also be various other physical, cognitive and psychiatric symptoms ranging from constipation to anxiety.

Treatment

Medications that deal with the symptoms of each individual - there is no one size fits all. Each patient is different - there symptoms can vary drastically. Drugs may target Motor symptoms as well as non Motor symptoms. Medications that deal with Motor symptoms target tremor, stiffness and slowness while the non Motor drugs deal with depression, sleep disturbance and anxiety.

There is the possibility of surgery for those whose symptoms are not responding to medication - Deep Brain Stimulation can relieve symptoms. There is also the option for Stem Cell treatment.

Although at the moment there is no cure for Parkinson’s, research is moving forward and medications, treatments both physical and psychological are making progress.

The Benefits Of Pilates

Exercise is accepted to be essential for those suffering the effects of Parkinson’s Disease. Although at present all treatments and therapies can only slow the progression of the symptoms, it’s clear the mind and body connection of Pilates can offer a positive, proactive environment for those affected.

A Pilates programme offers Spinal mobility, Extension, Flexion, Lateral Flexion and Rotation, at the same time Stabilisation of the upper and lower body to help with balance and coordination. Hip mobility, Rotation, Adduction and Abduction relative to gait.

In addition particularly in a one to one setting the Pilates teacher can offer a calm, safe place for the client to experiment with ranges of motion using the professional Pilates equipment to assist and create support as well as challenge.

The improved strength, mobility, flexibility, coordination and balance will create a confidence in the client that may have been diminishing as the symptoms become more noticeable.

Benefits from a Pilates programme will only become apparent if the client understands the necessity to practice daily, putting the information and knowledge they are acquiring about their personal physicality, limitations and development to use in their daily activities.
A once or twice a week visit to the Pilates studio will not be enough to ensure effective results. The Pilates teacher needs to be of the highest professional standard to help this client. A teacher who can recognise the changes that are occurring as well as how each visit can present a different challenge both to them and their client, whether that’s physical or emotional.

Without a doubt Pilates is an intelligent choice for those dealing with Parkinson’s disease, in combination with their physician, neurologist, physiotherapist or osteopath, the Pilates teacher is an integral part of the team.

Nuala Coombs
Pilates For You
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