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January 22, 2017

A deeper understanding of your body

The fitness world has boomed over the last few years with a huge variety of styles and disciplines to shape, tone and sculpt the body. The desire for wanting quick results and wanting to get them as quickly as possible comes down to the nature of the world that we now live in. We can order clothes that are delivered the same day, we can instantly stream episode after episode of our favourite boxsets, which then also encourages the attitude of expecting quick results with our diets and fitness regimes. I’m often asked, ‘Can you fix my back in one session’? ‘Is my pelvic floor going to get stronger overnight’? and ‘Will my flexibility increase within a week’? The answer is always Practice, Perseverance and Patience!

A deeper understanding of your body can hep you avoid injury, in particular lower back pain and whilst we are on the subject of Pelvic floor, let’s take a look at my speciality, Pilates. From Madonna to Ronaldo, there’s Pippa Middleton and Kelly Hoppen, all fans of working those deep core muscles. Pilates is the foundation for building deep inner strength.

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Most exercise regimes tend to focus on the superficial muscles of the body, the ones that tend to look nice. Now don’t get me wrong, sculpted bi-ceps and toned glutes look and feel great, but the power of your pelvic floor and your transverse abdominis will honestly leave you feeling stronger for life. 

What is your pelvic floor and where is it, you may wonder? -and yes guys you do have one!

The Pelvic floor sits like an internal hammock and when activated it pulls up to a flat and lifted position. Imagine trying to pull the sides of a hammock so that the sling lifts and become flat. This diamond shape muscle sits from front to back like an internal sling and may feel like your lifting, zipping or squeezing gently when activated. The pelvic floor helps to stabilise the lumbopelvic region and in doing so it helps to create stability for the lumbar spine as it is referred to as one of the important core muscles. The feeling of activating your pelvic floor, which is encouraged through each pilates exercise, can be described in a number of ways. Remember each and everyone of you interpret and understand things differently so here are some descriptions for finding and activating your pelvic floor muscles. 

  • Imagine dimming a light switch and turning the switch up or down. The feeling of slowly increasing or decreasing the light can be the same visual you use for engaging slowly and turning up your pelvic floor activation.
  • Slowly squeezing and juicing a lemon. As you slowly squeeze your lemon juice into your warm water for your morning detox you can slowly imagine you’re squeezing the lemon with your pelvic floor! Imagine how you would activate the feeling of squeezing the lemon to produce some lemon juice and how you would increase the intensity of the squeeze. 
  • You can lift your pelvic floor muscles up slowly like an elevator going up through a series of floors. Try lifting level 1-10, yes 10 different activations and stop and hold on each floor!
  • Still confused or struggling?? Imagine holding in wind!..This is when men usually understand. Found it?

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Practice makes perfect. Try to make a conscious effort to activate your pelvic floor muscles across all exercise methods. The techniques that you pick up through pilates can be integrated as a healthy foundation through all exercise disciplines. 

Pilates can be an extremely beneficial addition to any physical practice as the key focus is on working the deeper muscles that help to create support and stability in the body. From experience most injuries that have been picked up through fitness regimes can also be contributed from weak deeper muscles. By focussing on practices such as Pilates and Yoga, you can help prevent injury, help your body heal and produce a wealth of strength and fitness without placing unnecessary strain upon your body. The added benefit of breathing through exercise will also give you a natural high as the oxygenated blood that you you pump through the body through each breath and repetition will allow you to feel completely energised. 

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