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A journal of running, healthy food, mountains, bikes and technology by Julia Revitt

I’m already a dedicated fan of Pilates as I find it helps my lower back which is often stiff and occasionally goes into spasm.  I already practice 20 mins every morning but I’m finding that I’m not getting any more flexible or stronger.  So I reckon it’s time for a Pilates revamp!

I have been to classes and now practice Pilates everyday on my own.  I used to practice Yoga but I found that this was too harsh for my back and didn’t address the weak core muscles that I believe to be at the root of my back problems.  So in France last year, I started to practice Pilates for 20 mins every morning and feel so much better for it.

If you’re thinking of taking up Pilates then I recommend attending a small class to start with.  This is because the instructor can tell if you’re doing it right and as a novice it’s hard to tell the difference between perfect and completely wrong!  I attended a 6 week course at the physiotherapy section of my local hospital – a class designed for people with all sort of physical problems but limited to 6 people.  Once you have been shown how to practice Pilates correctly, then I suggest buying a good Pilates book which will give you all the exercises that you need.  I personally love and own ‘The Official Body Control Pilates Manual’ by Lynne Robinson.

My morning routine is purposefully gentle – perfect for when you’ve just got out of bed.  For those that are familiar with Pilates already, this is my current morning routine…

  • Adductor Stretch whilst rotating my ankles
  • Hamstring Stretch holding for a count of 100 with an exercise band
  • Spine Curls
  • Curl Ups with Arm Action
  • Arm Openings
  • Side-lying Quadriceps & Hip Flexor Stretch
  • Working the Arches
  • Plus some back exercises (McKenzie Method)

To build on this morning routine I am adding in an evening session.  I would like this session to take no longer than 45 mins and need it to work on my strength as well as flexibility.  My plan is to do the following;

  • Knee Drops
  • Turning out the leg
  • Single Leg Stretch
  • Double Leg Stretch
  • Pillow Squeezes
  • Hip Rolls
  • Cherry Picking
  • Spine Curls with Pillow
  • Pelvic Clocks
  • Side Rolls
  • Side Reaches
  • Shoulder Drops
  • Wide Leg Wall Stretch
  • Sliding Down the Wall
  • Roll Downs
  • Spine Stretch
  • Tricep Stretch
  • The Dart
  • The Star
  • Threading the Needle
  • Rest Position

As I am a runner and a mountain biker I need my routine to cover the potential injury spots that these sports can create.  My back problems have been diagnosed due to a problem with 2 stiff vertebrae at the base of my spine but I also have flat feet!  I’m convinced that a combination of weak core muscles, tight hamstrings and flat feet cause my back problems and am hoping that this extra session of Pilates will reduce the amount of down time I suffer when my back is in spasm (currently once or twice a year).  Maybe, just maybe this will mark the end of my back problems!

Any comments or suggestions gratefully received!  Watch my twitter account for my progress.

Update:

Went through my new routine last night and have a few amendments to make (see the new plan below).  I found that it took a bit too long to complete but then I was checking the moves in my book first so I guess that I will get quicker.  I’ve moved the routine around so that all the exercises performed on my back are together and that I work each muscle group in order – better for my back that way too.  I found that the Hip Rolls really worked my back hard – only did 3 but liked it and will build up to 10.

  • Knee Drops
  • Turning out the leg
  • Pillow Squeezes
  • Hip Rolls
  • Cherry Picking
  • Spine Curls with Pillow
  • Single Leg Stretch
  • Pelvic Clocks
  • Side Reaches
  • Shoulder Drops
  • Sliding Down the Wall
  • Roll Downs
  • Tricep Stretch
  • The Dart
  • The Star
  • Threading the Needle
  • Rest Position
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