Category Archives: Pilates in Cornwall

Mel Collie | No Pain No Gain

Mel Collie | No Pain No Gain

If you are of a certain age and go to the gym, you will have heard the “no pain no gain” phrase..and believed it. However, the more I practice as a therapist and Pilates teacher, the more pain I see as a result of too much gain.

That means that the lie the fitness industry has fed you for years that you have to feel pain, push harder and do more reps to get results is the norm…

In my therapy clinic I often see inhibited core muscles. This means they arent working as you think they should be, this means that something else has to work harder to stabilise, like the neck (neck pain doing core exercises anyone?) or the diaphragm when the breath is held.

Try this. Lie on your back. Lift the legs and arms like in the picture below. Move the opposite arm and leg away from each other, now bring them back, then change sides. Note how many reps you can do with the following:

A relaxed jaw-  so you arent clenching your teeth.

Shoulders down your back so you aren’t using your shoulders

Glutes relaxed so you aren’t clenching

Breathing fully as you move so you aren’t holding your breath

Tip – place a folded towel under your lower ribs, ask someone to hold one end and to pull it as you work, that towel should not move…

Note when your body has to move into a “cheat”

Regress to progress, if you want less pain in your neck, back, hip, shoulder, stop using them as compensation patterns and start to do the exercise correctly with the correct muscles.

If this means you may only do one rep in the beginning, whats the point in doing one right and 3 – 5 wrong? do you think that will make you stronger? It only strengthens the compensation patterns.

 

  1. If you have pain, stop going to a general class in a gym with 30 people in it and a teacher that doesn’t correct or spend time with you. If the pain is persisting, you need to get assessed and see what your compensations are. You may just be surprised that your core isn’t as strong as you thought.
  2. Years ago I attended a Pilates class for 2 years in a gym, that sometimes had 30 people in it. I thought I was at an intermediate level, I went twice a week and I attended other fitness classes..every day, sometimes twice a day. When I trained to be a Pilates teacher, I was upset to learn that I was back at beginner level because I knew nothing. I had no stability in the easiest of moves. I had to start over. Weak glutes. Weak Core. Tight neck. Tight shoulders.
  3. Speed hides need. If you are speeding through an exercise with no attention to form, you are compensating. Your speed hides your compensation. Slow down, Take it ultra slow, its really hard ..and thats where the magic happens.
  4. Listen to your body. What does that even mean? well, if your hips are tight, they could be compressing for stability because you have none from your core. Same goes for your lower back and shoulders.
  5. Final top tip – core exercises –  If your head is tilted back and your ribs are lifted , even if your toes are scrunched up- you aren’t doing core work – you are doing future pain work, compensation work. Re check your compensation patterns by building your awareness.

Mel

Pilates & NKT therapist.

Mel Collie | How can you improve your arm movement in Pilates?

Mel Collie | How can you improve your arm movement in Pilates?

In this mornings class we practiced arm stick ups – so named as it looks like you have a person holding a gun at you and been told to stick your arms up..

 

Elbows bent at 90 degrees. back of hands as close to the floor as you can get without cheating..so no lifting of the ribs ( we did this on the floor with knees bent) and no lifting of the chin so you arent looking behind you, the eyes are looking up or slightly towards your knees.
So if you tap at a keyboard or have a job that tightens up the front of the body as you sit, the pec minor gets tight.


Its tight in many shoulders, however, that doesn’t mean it should be released, it may be tight, and weak, of course I’m going to recommend that you  best get it checked by someone who knows muscle testing.

So both clients had restricted movement in both arms, but more on the right side.
I had a lightbulb moment – and if you have read my FB post today about me thinking it was Thursday, (its not…its Wednesday..) ..I’m amazed this happened in class today…doh!
Wednesday morning class is only meant for a maximum of 3 people, as are most of my sessions, but Wednesdays has a deeper focus on rehab aso I include more NKT (neurokinetic therapy)corrections

I was able to test and release both right sided pec minors in both clients at the same time , as we had only 2 clients today in class, whilst they were doing the stick ups with both arms.
Over the space of about 5 – 8 reps of the stick up, the arm gradually “let go” and moved back further, allowing more space in the shoulder joint, so movement was improved. This is fast because the brain was happy it had enough stability to allow this to happen. If its not happy, it wont allow it.
Amazing stuff , but just identifying a relationship between a tight front muscle and a weaker rear shoulder muscle, which could have been a mid or lower trap or a rotator cuff, who knows what it was or what it was called, it worked and thats all that matters.
Homework – of course, as self care is vital to maintain results – release the pec minor with gentle slow massage with your fingers for about 30 seconds, ( I did the right side as its common that its this side..do the other side if its tighter on you) follow it with stick ups – 3 – 5 reps, depends on how many you can do before you begin to compensate.

Most of us are unaware of our compensations, as we are so used to them. So attending an exercise corrective class or seeing a physio/chiro/NKT professional (for example..) can help you understand where our brain is picking up the slack.

Mel

www.melcollie.com

Level III Pilates Instructor

Level II NKT therapist

 

Mel Collie | Why does the neck hurt in Pilates?

Mel Collie | Why does the neck hurt in Pilates?

In this Pilates mornings class we practiced side lying legwork using the Pilates Circle/Ring. Both clients said their neck hurt after just a couple of repetitions.

Why would the neck feel pain when we are actually working the leg?


We all have an amazing back muscle called the Quadrates Lumborum ( to me it always sounds like the name of a Bond villain) on each side of the spine, that allows us to side bend extend and rotate, when it isn’t functioning well, the brain has to find stability somewhere else. So, in this case, the neck wasnt the issue, it was one of the back muscles.
It was in a different place in the neck in each client, but a simple 30 second massage on the tight neck muscle activated the weaker back muscle. Stabilising the position became a lot easier as the neck wasn’t having to do all of the work.
The above picture of your side/lateral line show the line starts in the foot, so any lateral ankle sprains can also affect the back and the lateral neck as the body loses stability, it has to find it elsewhere.
Interesting …if you are a geek like me that is…
Thanks to this mornings Pilates girls for being amazing!
Homework to correct this would be to gently and slowly release the tight neck area that was compensating, followed by a few reps of a standing side bend, bending towards the same side as the released neck.

Mel

www.melcollie.com

Level 3 Pilates Instructor

Lev II NKT therapist.

Appointments from my home studio in Portreath, North Cornwall, UK.

melcollie@gmail.com

Core Strength & Your Jaw

Core Strength & Your Jaw

Sit ups, planks and push ups- all favoured as core exercises, and core strength is supposed to be enhanced by practicing them for many reps or keeping the position held for a few minutes, I used to go to a Pilates class where they insisted you Core & Your Jaw wern’t strong if you didn’t hold your plank position for more than 5 minutes, in fact they wanted you to do it for 8 minutes…

However..

A little bit smarter and wiser , I wish I could go back to that class with the knowledge I now have to see what was being used as compensation – a tight jaw, held breath, tight shoulders, tightness in the back of the neck. All of these are used as compensations, cheats by the body when its searching for strength because its failed elsewhere, usually in the core.

The jaw is a common one. With todays anxieties, worries and fears, tension in the jaw is commonplace when the brain seeks stability, especially if it isn’t getting it from the core muscles.

So next time you are doing your core exercises, check what is happening and where you are compensating.

  1. Breathe out through the mouth to avoid jaw clenching.
  2. Keep the back of the neck long to avoid using this area for strength.
  3. Watch you aren’t breath holding, the diaphragm can become facilitated for a weaker core.
  4. Ensure the upper shoulders are away from the ears
  5. Watch your toe position and that they aren’t clawing at the ground, a classic compensation for a weaker core.

If you’ve been doing these for a while, your compensations may also be present in everyday life, you may find you hold your breathe often, your toes might already prefer the clawed position, your upper shoulders may find they like it near your ears and are always tight..

What can you do about it?

Awareness is a great start, you might not like it, but regressing your reps and take it slow. Record yourself with a camera/mobile and see whats happening when you play it back, are your shoulders in a good position, when does that begin to falter? Do you hold your breath, at what point is that?

That is where your neural edge is, the brain compensates, thats when you stop and rest until you are ready to go again.

You can also practice your breathing as this can improve a  load of issues, if the brain is happy with the oxygen amount, its happy giving you extra strength to a certain degree.

Stabilising from the centre out is always a good place to start.

Melanie Collie

www.melcollie.com

 

 

Pain in my right lower back

Pain in my right lower back

 

Lower back pain , almost everyone has it, or has experienced it at some point.

The most common issue I see is a tight or weak (though muscles can also be weak and tight) lower back muscle, known as the Quadratus Lumborum (QL)

Mel Collie | Quadratus Lumborum

Usually one side can be working for the other so one side will feel tight and painful, the other side can be weaker, but also painful, how do you decide which one to stretch and which one to strengthen? if you decide to stretch the painful side and thats already weak, you are stretching a weak muscle, which can and very often does, create further instability in this part of the body, which will mean the brain has to compensate elsewhere in the body.

However, without guessing or hoping it will go away, I test it against its synergists, and one of those is your glutes.

We sit on them a lot, they don’t function well, so something has to do that work, there are other muscles that can come into play like the Piriformis, but also look to the lower back.

Thats why its wise to get these muscles tested against each other, so you aren’t guessing at what is working and what isn’t.

Once the glutes have been tested and we’ve got them working, the QL can get back to doing what it does , which is side bending , rotation and helping with exhalation.

So, if lack of rotation is an issue, you could have an issue with your obliques, neck, shoulders,m but also get your QL muscles tested too.

You have an amazing computer in your head, the brain will always find another pathway so you can keep moving, no matter how obscure. So you can see, that where the pain is, isn’t always where the problem is, it can be telling you that the muscles in this area are carrying an extra load from an area thats underworking.

Sounds a little confusing doesn’t it. So if you do have back pain, find a therapist who has knowledge of Neuro Kinetic Therapy under their belt, as they will not guess whats going on, but actually test, and as we are all unique, thats the best thing you could ask for your body, not a cookie cutter approach, but an individualised session.

Bliss.

Melanie Collie

www.melcollie.com

melcollie@gmail.com