Tag Archives: core

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

Mel Collie | Is your neck stronger than your core?

Mel Collie | Is your neck stronger than your core?

Core exercises are all the rage and have been for years, they’ve been embedded into our heads from fitness classes, magazine articles and celebrities shouting that you should all the doing core strength exercises, however.. if you are, and seeing minimal results, why is that and what can you do about it…?

  1. Do a core exercise you are familiar with.
  2. Now do it again and be aware of the following – clenched jaw, tilted head position, lifted shoulders, tight diaphragm, clenched toes.
  3. Why those in particular? Well, these are a few compensatory ways of using what we believe is our “core” when in fact, the connection between brain and “core” isn’t as strong as we believe.
  4. It takes a brave person to admit they have a weak core,  I see it a lot os weak “core” muscles in my NKT sessions.
  5. If you aren’t stable in your centre, the extremities will take up the slack, you will experience tightness in arms, legs, jaw, neck, pelvic floor or diaphragm.

A simple example :

Lie on your back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor.

Now lift both arms up to the ceiling, palms facing each other.

Now lift your feet, knees stay bent at 90 degrees, so the knee line is above the hip bones.

Breathe in

Exhale as you, slowly lower the right leg towards the floor(leg can stay bent or straight, depends on your current level of core connection)  and the left arm back

Keep the arm straight, keep the knee bent.

Inhale come back with arm and leg.

Change sides as repeat.

Compensation points to check:

Chin lifts as your head drops back

Shoulders lift

Breathe holding

Toes lifting or clawing at the ground

Pelvic floor clenching

Ribs lifting

Glutes squeezing

Eyes closing

 

It doesn’t have to be a check list of all of these, but it could be one or two that you may notice.

Work on correcting those and your core exercises will take off.

Stick with the compensation patterns and they will get stronger, not your core.

How can you tell? Get assessed by an NeuroKinetic Therapist (NKT) or have your compensation check list as listed above and listen your brain.

Be your brain. Where does your brain go to when the core isn’t connecting.

What does your brain do?

Mel Collie

www.melcollie.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

 

 

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 | Should You be Doing Pilates For Your Core?

Mel Collie | Should You be Doing Pilates For Your Core?

In answer to my core question which was “Are you happy doing this kind of training, do you actually like it ?”(because if you are doing something you loathe, you probably won’t stick at it for long…) she replied…”Well, I know I really should be doing Pilates for my core, shouldn’t I ? ”

She is currently doing 3 sessions a week of 15 – 20 minute strength training.

That means moves like squats, lunges, shoulder bridges (this isn’t an exclusive Pilates exercise), push ups , running on the spot, rows, rotational moves, arm strength moves like bicep curls, shoulder presses, tricep kick backs, lat raises.

Does all of that mean she is NOT using her core?

Doubt it..

Where is your core?

…is it just your belly?

Well, many of us do believe it is, but its way more than that!

It also includes(not exclusively…) your spine, your lower back and upper back, your shoulders, your neck, your pelvis, your upper legs, your inner thighs, your bum, your knees, and especially your foot positioning…

When the feedback from your feet to your brain gets messed up the resulting movement pattern will be unorganised.

However, Pilates is very much touted as the go to exercise for your core

For some people who adore pilates, it is just that, which is great…for them..

But please, lets stop the touting ( usually by Pilates instructors , and I am one of them!) that its the only way to train your core

It isn’t

Thats a lie

I’ve seen many Pilates people have no core at all and using neck muscles instead (that was me!)

You can do as many core exercises as you like, but still have – possibly – weak Psoas as you use obliques instead to compensate, weak Psoas as you use the neck to compensate, weak TVA( a major “core” muscle) as you use breath holding and/or neck muscles to compensate.

And there could be other compensations along the line, because you are unique! Your movement patterns are yours, not off the shelf.

What can you do? Get tested.

An NKT specialist will help you “find” your core, and use it effectively, to recognise compensations, how to release them and get these unorganised patterns organised, so you an be effective in whatever training you chose to do to work your core, Pilates, Yoga, Weights, Cross Fit, HiiT, Swimming, Surfing, Running, Rowing, Climbing, Boxing..the list goes on.

Mel

www.melcollie.com