Tag Archives: breathing

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 | Ever massaged your Diaphragm?

Mel Collie | Ever massaged your Diaphragm?

 

Todays Neuro Kinetic Therapy special was a curious one, but as I have learned with this technique, I go with what the body tells me.

diaphragm

I was going to do some work on the right foot , but as the diaphragm was flaring and something my client had mentioned in our chat at the beginning of the session, I tested the diaphragm against the abdominals and her glutes as she has a tucked under pelvis and shortened space between lower rib and hip bone, slight kyphosis and altered neck position…(I will ask you questions later..:) )

I found a facilitated spot on the diaphragm, a bit tender, and when I theory localised it, the glutes switched on, as did her core muscles, which meant that when we tested the core muscles, there was no visible shaking in the upper neck, and no jaw clenching.

The diaphragm can be a compensator for so many things…
It may seem too simple for you as a client to do breathing homework (what you don’t get 100 sit ups and press ups? !!…umm…nope…) ..but breathing is the most repetitive movement you will do each and every day, and I guess you’ve been doing those reps for quite a while now…

 

Mel Collie

NKT Level 1 Practitioner

www.melcollie.com

Mel Collie | Why your calf muscles are tight & what to do about it

Why your calf muscles are tight & what to do about it

Bit of a long title, but does what it says on the tin..tight calf muscles, stretch them and they are just like your tight hamstrings, they always come back, why is that, could it be they are tight for a reason, tight because something else isn’t allowing them to “let go”?

This could possibly be inhibited glutes, which means your glutes may not be doing their job, but your calves are instead.

Get the bum working and the calves can release.

How you can do that?

Find a tender area on your calf and give is a massage with your fingers or with a tennis ball or foam roller.

Calf Muscles

About 30 – 60 seconds is just fine

Then strengthen the glutes by doing 5 reps of a glute bridge. Don’t hold your breath or clench the jaw.

glutebridge

Repeat twice a day

Your glutes will love you..

 

Mel

www.melcollie.com

Mel Collie | Effective abdominal exercise you probably aren’t doing…

Mel Collie | Effective abdominal exercise you probably aren’t doing…

Sit ups are popular if you are after an abdominal exercise, and thats ok, as long as your lower back and neck aren’t doing the actual sit up work for you and you are also doing other stuff as well, like rotational exercises for example, power lives in rotation if its a great midsection you are after…however, the most repetitive exercise you do, every day, is breathing, the overlooked muscles, the diaphragm, is a major part of your core, and if your aren’t breathing well, you are using your neck muscles, which means your inner core stabilising system is well and truly on holiday…

How to use your breath effectively

Practice – lie on your front, gently allow the lower belly to press into the floor as you breathe in

This can be very tricky for some of us, as we are told to pull our bellies in all the time to create a look of having a flatter belly, when in fact what this does it to encourage breathing into the neck and chest…I’m guessing they are tight enough from sitting at a computer all day or driving for a living, or watching TV most evenings. Your shoulders don’t need any more tension.

So, when you exhale, the lower belly will come back by its own elasticity.

You may feel light headed and dizzy. The brain may not be used to having as much oxygen as you are now taking in, because you have been a shallow breather for a while. You may also find that your blood pressure and heartbeat come back to a normal range for a human being.

How does that diaphragm move?

When you exhale, it relaxes upwards, like an umbrella, pushing out the used air into the lungs, this is why, an exhalation, when lobber than the inhalation, allows oxygen to be pushed into the blood supple.

When you inhale, the diaphragm contracts, it collapses downwards.

If this is the first time you are practicing this with awareness, its better done lying down, so you don’t also have to consider posture as well. Practice it for one repetition before you get out of bed,and before you go to sleep

Just 1 rep?

Yes…just one – if I ask you to try it for a minute x 4 a day, you might do that for a couple of days, then forget, because life takes over and practicing breathing may not seem so important to you when the kids are screaming and you’ve got the shopping to do , the dinner to cook and the house to clean.

1 rep is doable.

Then it becomes a habit.

You will naturally do a few more when the times right.

The benefits, apart from a healthier heart, better nourishment from your nutrition, reduced anxiety and stress, better abdominal connection which can help pelvic floor and ab tone, reduced back pain and better movement in the ribs…are many..

But you know what..its up to you. I’ve realised that you can’t tell someone to do something, but you can help someone who asks, who wants to change, who changes by trying something out themselves.

Mel

www.melcollie.com