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

Just Starting?

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 many years.  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. 

NEW TO PILATES?

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 what Pilates can do for you - 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.

 

WHAT CAN PILATES DO FOR 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 Nuala@nualacoombspilates.com

In Conclusion

We've looked at the fundamental considerations of regular Pilates session and The Benefits of Pilates For You and I hope you can start to think about trying it out - if you're not already a client?  Remember.....

Enjoy!

QUESIONS?

If you have questions just call into the studio at Place de Vielle, La Garde Freinet 83680 or email: Nuala@nualacoombspilates.com or you can always phone - +33 (0)6 73 99 37 85

Move for a healthy pregnancy

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 of Pilates when Pregnant?

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 over-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 during pregnancy will help strengthen postural muscles particularly the abdominals to avoid excessive forward tilting.

So the answer is a big YES to using Pilates When Pregnant 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 as a client or Teacher,  just ask - Nuala@nualacoombspilates.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.

a pilates student
It's simple keep moving

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. Healthy Ageing is in our hands.  Assuming we have no underlying health issues, our attitude, 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 so automatic as they used to be - don't fall into the trap of thinking it's because of your age - growing older doesn't  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 less active than a direct result of your age.  your can Make Healthy Ageing your priority.

LOWERING EXPECTATIONS

As we age it's easy to lower expectations regarding 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.https://nualacoombspilates.com/pilates/age-fast-age-slow

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 - https://amzn.eu/d/ebfaLeF

 

Nuala Coombs
Pilates For You
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