Tag Archives: abs

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

 

 

Mel Collie |Lies in the Fitness Industry

Mel Collie |Lies in the Fitness Industry

Theres so many lies in the fitness industry, so many, I don’t know where to begin, I’m also worried that once I start ranting about them, I won’t stop and might just bore you to tears…so I will limit this post to just 3 of the main ones that really get to me:

  1. Adverts – if you believe the hype you need to wake up . Theres a company currently selling a thick double belt that you wrap around your waist to hold in your fat and make you appear slimmer. FFS. The tightness of this belt will compress and disturb your breathing patterns, and you will use your neck muscles to breathe, creating pain and dysfunction in your neck and lower back..expect that to happen if you buy it. Expect, also, to lower your self esteem even further by thinking that you will be a better person by being slimmer. Accept yourself as you are. Then change anything you want to by moving your body, its designed for that, rather than paying just under £20 for a belt that wont help you out at all…however, if you find movement difficult because of your size, start with changing your brainiest, your thoughts. This post hasn’t got the scope to discuss that in depth, but it doesn’t have to be complex, it does though involve a lot of realisation and acceptance, which can be really tough to do, if you choose to see it that way, many of us choose the path of least resistance , making excuses, blaming others, finding comfort in eating, realising that theres no one else to blame expect ourselves is a tough and bitter pill to swallow. Byron Katies work on managing your thoughts and beliefs and having realisations that will rock your world are available for free on her website and many videos on You Tube plus her books are very helpful – Loving What Is could just change your life. Once you realise something though, accepting it and releasing it can be the hard lessons.There could be tears shed along the way, but remember, to climb the mountain and get to the summit, you have to earn it, train, research, accept truths that flip flops and shorts aren’t the things to wear and you have to invest in some real equipment, ask those who have already been there and done it, ask for help, take the bits that work, discard the rest…every journey to the summit starts with one step, and each step takes your further to your goal, those steps are the most important, don’t lose sight of them.
  2. Movement & Muscles. Its a shame that the industry touts pink small weights and shake weights (really…?)  for women. Lift weights, you don’t have enough testosterone to bulk up. Muscle burns fat, movement creates a better functioning skeletal frame and more stamina. This works its way into your life. Everyday tasks become easier, Walking becomes easier. Breathing becomes better. However – if you are a person with a desk bound job as many of us are, me included, I do a lot of writing, photo editing and research on my laptop, you are deluded (Im being polite) if you think you can just get up and move and function well. It doesn’t happen. If you’ve ben stretching tight hamstrings for months, why aren’t they stretched by now? If you’ve been stretching tight hip flexors for ever, why are they not stretched by now? If your lower back twinges when you stand up, why is that? If your feet roll inwards and your knees hurt, what can you do about it, do you really need orthotics, is there anything else you can do to work your foot muscles? What happens to your glutes when you sit, do they stretch, why is that, and why don’t they work when you stand up, what does their job instead? Is a herniated disc a cause…or a symptom? Is plantar fascia a cause…or a symptom? Why is having a tight toned ab section more important than having a functioning body that moves well so you can keep moving well with no pain well into your old age? Because tight toned abs sell dvds and make money. However..a tight toned muscular area doesn’t mean those muscles are working well. Form doesn’t equate to function . Being sold a toned ab fitness class doesn’t mean those abs doing their job. I’ve seen tight over worked neck muscles for dysfunctional core muscles. I’ve seen tight necks for poor foot mechanics. I’ve seen a class full of men and women doing sit ups so fast they are all using their necks to complete the move. This really gets me. Form is key. In every single rep you do. Unless you have a great reason as to why the 3rd, 4th or last rep isn’t as important as the first.The hardest thing is keeping awareness throughout each repetition.
  3. I cant think of a third…theres no many more..but, well, when I trained to be a  Pilates instructor, I was so fortunate to have a wonderful tutor, Joanne Cobbe of J Pilates. I had a few wobbles on the course, I was unsure of my path and unsure if Pilates was the be all and end all, her advice was that this was ok, its normal to doubt, but to examine why and if I believed Pilates wasn’t for me, then to seek what was. Now, 7 years later, I still teach Pilates. However. It isn’t the be all and end all. It is for some, but so is Yoga, running, climbing, swimming, rowing, weight lifting, canoeing, hang gliding  etc etc Finding what works for your body is key. If you do what you loathe you will end up cancelling sessions, turning up late, feeling demotivated and end up blaming yourself. Bootcamps are all the rage, I was fortunate to go to some workshops run by Paul Mort, I learned a ton of truths from him, and still do from his emails and Ive been a member in his monthly marketing group. he too bemoans the lies in the industry. I ran a bootcamp on a beach. Then i started to realise that getting up early to train wasn’t the right thing for some people whose sleep was being affected by hormonal imbalances. Theres calories in stress and sleep…but these wont sell dvd’s..should you get your sleep and stress sorted out first before signing up for a Bootcamp course. Sure you should. Will you? probably not, but if you go to a great bootcamp instructor who knows about hormone balance, nutrition and cycles of the body, you will learn  that success comes from working from within. This may mean changing some things about your routine – black out blinds in the bedroom, no mobiles/laptop use an hour before bed, no caffeine after mid day(if that works for you, you may have to change that to 9am) reading a book before bed to help calm the mind, keeping em and paper by the side of the bed to write down thoughts when you wake up during the night, eating more fat and protein closer to bedtime if you regularly wake at 4am because blood sugar releases stress hormones, meditating, breathing exercises, going for daily 20 minute walks to de stress and calm the nervous system, practicing 5 slow deep breaths before eating to help improve digestion and calm the nervous system…..stuff like this can be taught at bootcamps, so if you are attending one that just shouts at you to do more sit ups and eat less food, move on…if its not something that you love or thats lasting, or that fits into your routine, you wont stick at it.

Rant over…

Conclusion – don’t believe the hype, stop doing stuff that doesn’t serve you on Facebook ( a great procrastinator!)  listen to people who have been there and done that..got the scars and can help you move on, don’t follow the sheep – find what works for you, your metabolism is unique, what works for your mate (or what worked for you last year…) wont necessarily work for you, spend time on you, be kind, loving , laugh, play, have fun, enjoy life, but most of all, realise your body is a instrument, learn its tune, how to play it, be in harmony with it rather than against it, stop grabbing your spare tyre and hating it, this reinforces negative self talk, but massage it, learn to accept that its just the result of loving what you have eaten, once you accept yourself, change becomes easier, you work with it rather than against it.

Life is worth living. Go live it. With no excuses.

x

Mel Collie | Necking It

Heres what I used to do for my tight neck muscles – get them stretched…

Did they need stretching often ? yes…were they always tight? yes…

Why? Computer..stress..anxiety…forward head posture, clenched jaw..all that stuff means tight upper neck muscles.

Was I fed up with it..not really, after all it was my own fault right?   I knew what to stretch though, so I stretched them, I just told myself off for spending too much time on that computer

Is that you too? Hell yes I bet it is!

Years and years later…still stretching?

Here we go – the tight muscles are telling you a story, and you’ve just read it in a different language.

For all that time…

Remember the yellow fish in Hitchhikers Guide To the Galaxy?

I got me one of those fish when I started to understand the WHY

I began to understand the language

I stopped chasing the pain and looked elsewhere

What was that pain telling me? Tight muscles, overworking, tired, fed up, pissed off neck muscles.

Why?

Switched off core muscles…even though I’m a Pilates instructor, my abs were NOT working in a correct pattern.

When tested using NKT (www.neurokinetictherapy.com) my Psoas (hip flexor) TA (Transversus Abs) and Rectus Abs were unorganised…thats my polite way of saying they were inhibited. Their pattern of working was all jumbled up.

My left shoulder hikes up when I’m stressed, its been like that forever, it gets tight, I’m aware of it but I wasn’t aware those muscles were working to stabilise my core as well.

As soon as they were released and my Psoas and TA strengthened, stuff changed.

As soon as my Scalenes were released after testing to find they were facilitated (left more than right) and the left ones released (ouch! ) my diaphragm went whooosshhh…and my breathing was lighter.

Oh yes, the diaphragm is a commonly facilitated muscle too, you can practice deep breathing , but for some of us, it wont “let go” if its compensating.

I love testing core muscles when a client compensates by clinching jaw or breath holding, its a common cheat, and tells a story – do you do core work at the gym or in your Pilates class with a clenched jaw and no breathing for those tricky repetitions?

Want to stop that and do the same exercises with good form (check your neck position, if you need a towel under your head to keep it neutral, then use one or you are using your neck to stabilise , not your core)and breathe out with your mouth open, and eyes open, don’t close those eyes, that just means you are searching the brain for answers when it cant find your core muscles to do the work. Bet you are clenching the jaw and toes too …

Get yourself assessed to find out whats inhibited and facilitated, what patterns are unorganised , you will get homework to do thats specific for your unique patterning, which will involve a stretch or a massage with a ball in a tender/tight area, but what you do that follows that release is crucial to allow that “stretch” to hold, for the brain to relearn the new pattern.

It can take up to 3,000 reps for the brain to cement a new pattern of learning…thats a LOT of reps.

Its a lot of wrong reps if you are treating the wrong pattern. Guys thats why I was stretching for years and nothing changed. I was stretching the tight and not strengthening the weak. I didn’t know my patterns were unorganised.

So yes, there you go, get assessed, you can search NKT on You Tube too, to get an idea of how it works..

You will save a lot of years of stretching and chasing pain, you are unique, find out whats working..and whats not.

Phew…

Mel

www.melcollie.com

Mel Collie | Fancy A Core Challenge?

Mel Collie | Fancy A Core Challenge?

 

I had a core workout yesterday…Sunday…a day of rest?!

Ha!

I was awake at 4am! Didn’t have to be up though, but I had some anatomical studies I wanted to do before going to Chester for an anatomical therapy study group session.

As we drove to Chester, yep, my lovely other half wanted to come too, we heard on the radio that Sir Terry Wogan has died …I loved that bloke, his chat was always fun to listen to, my personal faves were his Janet & John episodes, some of them were very risqué. If you haven’t heard any of them, check them out, you can probably find them on Google somewhere. Be prepared to laugh your socks off!

So, when I got to Chester, my bloke went off in the car to have a look around, whilst I spent 3 hours talking and testing muscle patterns.

My idea of total joy I can tell you.

Yep, Im a geek! Uh Oh!

I will try not to bore you…

BUT

Turns out my core 5 muscles were totally off…that includes my 6 pack (ha!) and my T.A (Transverses Abs)…oh, and my Psoas, which is a primary hip flexor, so pretty important…

I was wondering how the hell I managed to stay upright…without pain.

Turns out many of us have no core, and many of us have disc issues, we just don’t feel them. There are many studies on this, some of them I have read, some of them heavy going, but fascinating. One of the leaders in this field is Dr Stuart McGill. His book on back pain was the first book I bought when I started my Pilates career. I want to learn from the top bods, those who get results, and he is top of the list. His science lab and testing equipment is fascinating, would love to spend a week or so playing around there.

The other few people I listen to are:

 

Thomas Myers – Anatomy Trains. Brillaint You Tube fascia videos and an awesome Anatomy Trains book.

Lorimar Mosely – www.bodyinmind.org and a publisher of a few books and studies.

David Weinstock – www.neurokinetictherapy.com Great videos on You Tube, and book to run alongside the NKT course – it truly is the missing link.

 

So, if your core isn’t working…what is?

For me, it was my Scalenes. (might not be for you though, one of the other attendees had a pec major issue)

What are your Scalenes? They neck muscles.

(see pic at the bottom of the post)

Mine were both overworked. This can lead to tingling in the hands and fingers.

One side of the neck was “tighter” than the other, the specific testing was to find out which one that was, and so my homework would be specifically to release that one and strengthen the other.

But you have to do some detective work first, or you could be stretching the wrong one, this would cause a bit of an issue…so ..if you are currently stretching your neck muscles because the feel tight, yet they keep on feeling tight and nothing changes, consider an NKT detective to test the “why”.

You don’t keep on eating donuts every day and expect to be healthy…you know that in order to change things you cant expect to do the same things..especially if they DONT work.

I know you aren’t that stupid.

Want to change? Get assessed, its that simple.

Let me tell you though., as soon as my Scalenes were sorted, my diaphragm felt like it was fired up for a full breath, my abs were rocking and my Pilates teaser was holding like a beauty!

No shaking

No neck tension

No hamstring tightness.

 

A fast tracked way, but effective and how it should be way,  to get the most from my Pilates sessions, why would I want to keep on working my neck each time, rather than my core, eventually my neck would have been so tired and pissed off for doing the work of many other muscles it would have complained very loudly indeed. I had been working my neck all this time.

I had a posture assessment a few years ago and was told to stop carrying my bag on my left shoulder…had my Scalenes been doing work for my core all that time? Maybe..

Thats sent me on a mission

To get the nations cores switched on…for life. You just may find that it takes more than one session of therapy to get this to stick, and yes you have home exercises to do, for about 15 mins a day. It also can uncover other compensations , a possible leg or foot tightness, glutes not firing well in relation to hamstrings or hip flexors, rhomboids and quadrates lumborum issues.

Who knows? The fun is finding out!

 

Mel Collie

Pattern Detective!

Did you know that you are a firework at an atomic level, like a little firework display going off…how amazing are you?!

melcollie@gmail.com

Mel Collie | Scalenes

Mel Collie | Abdominal Strength – How Is Yours?

Mel Collie | Abdominal Strength – How Is Yours?

As part of being a pattern detective, I’ve been practicing abdominal reaction , abdominal strength.

The tests – theres 5 of them I have practiced – test the deep transversus abs and the more superficial rectus abs (the 6 pack!) as well as 3 other pattern tests.

Even someone with a 6 pack can have abs that don’t meet the core test protocol, which is fascinating right?

We are so conditioned to work on core strength yet we seem to be missing it completely.

Instead, our brain compensates and uses other stuff to get its stabilisation – the neck is a good one, as is the jaw.

Get your core assessed if you find you have neck tightness, back pain or even knee pain.

Assessment by a NKT specialist is kind of like a shortcut to delving into your body without being sliced open to reveal the workings , your patterns, of movement.

Injuries, scar tissue, compensations – can equal pain, dysfunction in the system, and it may not be as text book as it makes out to be. There are many pattern compensations, a pattern detective tests, assesses and gives homework for the findings from your unique body and its story. What works for you may not work for another.

So next time in your core workout session,, remember, ribs to hips if yours are flexible enough to allow this movement.

Lie on your back, bend the knees, feet on the floor, place a small towel under your lower ribs, keep the lower ribs into the towel so it cant be pulled away as you take the arms up to the ceiling and overhead, maintain the towel and rib connection.

Increasing core stability for your shoulder mobility is priceless. It decreases tension in your lower back and increases shoulder mobility and core stability.

When you try to reach for stuff on the top shelf you can do it by using your thoracic extension, not your lower back.

More functional than doing 100’s of sit ups for a better body for the future of your movement quality…

if thats what you are investing in…

Mel Collie

www.melcollie.com

Pattern Detective in Training in Snowdonia

Find a therapist here: http://neurokinetictherapy.com