If you are struggling to find time to join us for a regular pilates class, here are a few suggestions how to keep your joints mobile, ready for daily activities and how to combat symptoms of prolonged inactivity. You can use sections below, one at the time, or pick one or two of each or do them all! Whatever works for you and the time allows. Be kind to yourself and don't push through pain, this should feel like it's helping not making it worse.
Chest and front of the shoulder
Front of your shoulders and chest gets tight from just about all the activities we do during the day like, typing, driving, washing up, cooking, etc our arms never really reach their full range of motion. And when that area is tight it starts to pull your shoulder-blades up the back causing pain and discomfort in your neck and shoulders. Obviously, there is a bit more to it but releasing the pectoralis muscle is a great start.
1) place a ball in front of the shoulder (above breast tissue) and move right to left and back number of times, you might feel a bit of tight pain initially but it should feel like the massage is making it less uncomfortable. 2) walking through the door stretch: first with your elbow bend and then with your arm outstretched stand in line with the door frame and then take a step forward until you feel a stretch at the front of your shoulder and chest. 3) this one is my favourite : place a ball in front of your shoulder as on the picture, lean into the wall and move your arm up and down
You can use any type of ball like tennis ball, spiky ball as long as it's not a completely soft one. No ball at all? Put your hand in place of the ball and as you lift your arm up gently pull down with your hand.
During prolonged periods of inactivity , especially when working at the computer , lower back is very likely to let you know it is not happy! In this and the following section on hip release you will find a few simple measures you can take to loosen it up.
1) make yourself comfortable on your mat, open your arms wide to each side , bring your feet and knees together and simply let them fall from side to side. Take your time with it on each side to feel any tightness let go. As an alternative you can set your feet mat width apart and repeat this same for extra front of the thigh stretch. At the end cross one knee over the opposite hip, grab hold of the knee and gently pull over for a hip and a spine stretch.
2) from this same position begin working through your pelvic clock: hip to pubic bone 12-6; hip to hip 3-9; circles. From there take to into bridges, focusing on pushing from the feet to activate your hamstring , bone by bone pick the spine up from the floor and lower it down again. Repeat number of times. Afterwards, send one leg straight, slip your had under the hip or lower back on the side where the knee is bend and roll that side of the pelvis over to the other side (spilling water from one hip to the other), at this same time press your elbow down to open up the shoulders). Optionally, roll the head away in this same or opposite direction.
3) use a towel folded into a roll under the pelvis (not the lower back), with arms at each side, roll the hips from side to side, possibly feeling release of tightness at the back of the pelvis. Follow up with toe dips and front of the hip stretch.
Mobilise your hips as often as possible, when sitting on a chair just cross your foot over opposite knee and lean forward a bit for your glut med stretch, very simple and very effective.
1) Use your rolled up towel to hook up one foot while lengthening your other leg strait or keep it bend. Let your foot face up towards the ceiling and keep it as such while softly bending the knee and reaching up again. Fab hamstring and hip stretch. Once the hamstring loosened up keep your leg straight and point and flex your foot into the towel. Elbows are sitting relaxed by your side.
2) Sit up tall, bring your knees wide towards you and send them from side to side, for added effort reach your arms in front of you instead of leaning back - extra abdominal effort trying to keep the hips from 'walking' forward here.
3) Stand up with feet wide, roll down till your hands reach the floor or as low as the go, transfer your weight from side to side as on the picture, reaching out from the long leg for the inner thigh and hip stretch
spine and shouders
Oh yes, be the Cat that your cat wants you to be! Lol, not joking, after all that's where it came from, J Pilates watched animals and how they behaved then created and named some of his techniques based on his observations, that's why we have names like snake, elephant, butterfly, bat, cat, crab, etc in our Pilates repertoire.
1) lets get you positioned on your knees and hands, as above, keep you hips over the knees and reach one arm in front of you, think of your armpit wanting to talk to the floor, pull back from the centre to starting position.. Repeat number of times emphasising lengthening the arm away from this same side hip. Switch to threading the needle by threading one arm under the opposite shoulder, keep going until your head and shoulder sit on the floor, breath. Pull back from the centre, change sides.
2) Ok, so this is a cat that thinks is a cobra! From your knees and hands, round the spine back, ripple forward, don't stop at just rounding the spine up but carry it over the arms, ahed of your wrists, extend the spine, look at the wall in front of you then pull up your centre and comeback to your knees and hands.
3) all around shoulder stretch, use your towel, grab it wide with your hands over your lap, softly pull your shoulders to your ears. lift your arms up (with the towel stretched) over your head and back behind you. This can be difficult, don't push it if your shoulders are not ready, adjust position of your hands as wide as you need . Then bring them back to the front.
Movement Snacks: video
Below you can see 3 quick videos with basic mobilising sequences. You can use them in combination or one at the time as a stretch in your working break. If anything feels painful or uncomfortable please stop.