Tag Archives: sit ups

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 | 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

Mel Collie | 2 Reasons to Stop doing Crunches (and what to do instead)

Mel Collie | 2 Reasons to Stop doing Crunches (and what to do instead)

Ok, my last post was on adrenal fatigue…and one of the things that makes us tired is over training at the gym, usually because we’ve bought into the marketing idea that flat abs will make you happy, more desirable and sexy…

So, if you believe that to be true (it isn’t by the way) I would love to share some facts with you about crunches..

1. You can do loads of them , many about 22,000 of them, which burns a pound of fat, thats all. How long does it take to do that many crunches? You tell me…I can’t be bothered to even work it out. However, a point of your lovely fat contains 3,500 calories. Still doing crunches?

2. Ok..you’ve got a LOT of time on your hands. But, heres the thing, this is time you could spend doing other stuff that actually makes you happier which = improved self esteem, and when your self esteem bank account gets a boost, it tends to mean that the next time it gets a knock back, you won’t feel it as much because you’ve got some reserve in the bank account, hugely powerful stuff when you are worried about what other people think of you and your body.

3. Sit ups can give you neck ache and back ache, when done badly. I recently had a couple of friends staying for a couple of days and one of them had a baby recently, 3 years ago in fact. Her line alba hadn’t yet knitted back well (Google: diastis recti, it will tell you all you need to know)  and she was doing a well intentioned Pilates class twice a week, but at a big brand name gym in a class with lots of people, it hadn’t really helped her out, she’s now considering surgery. . I spent 2 years going to similar classes in a gym. You won’t get individualised attention. It isn’t geared towards that. She wasn’t to know, not her fault at all. I know physics and chiropractors recommend Pilates, but also know that they have clients coming to them with pain from going to Pilates sessions at gyms because of the amount of people in each class who have certain things going on that a one size fits all class won’t be covering. Crunches will not help a post pregnancy belly at all, it will create more problems for the muscles and pelvic floor, find someone who has been on a specific course on the issues that need to be addressed. Check out Hypopressives, a brilliant way to get the body back to alignment

So what can you do instead if you are a lover of sit ups?

Theres so many exercises, my top favourite is to learn how to breathe from your lower belly first to reduce cortisol levels , which when elevated, sit in the belly tissue, so you can exercise harder for longer, but if you are stressed, and have a continual high stress lifestyle , you may just find that belly fat sits around you for a lot longer than you originally intended. Breathing and doing less, working out smarter, not harder, is the key, which means a change in mindset, and that isn’t easy.

It may be easy to accept it, realise it, but then to actually implement it and stick to it is the hardest bit. You need to check yourself every now and then, make sure you haven’t slipped back into old patterns.

Exercises that you can do instead of loads of crunches are (and remember , always, with each repetition, to be in the moment and fully focused , as when you do that, you are sending signals to your brain about alignment to help each rep be very effective. Reps done without focus, when the mind wanders to other things because you are bored, then your alignment suffers and your results will reduce. True story!) :

Side Planks

Push ups

Burpees

Mountain climbers

Handstands

Cartwheels and many variations of them

Kettlebell swings (or use a dumbell)

Jumps

Go for a walk everyday, get outside and breathe, get some sunlight on your skin and get some laughter and love in your life

That doesn’t mean, if you don’t have one right now, that you should look for the perfect partner, but look inside yourself for your own self acceptance, do the exercise that you love to do, not whats trendy or what others are doing, it might not work for you.

Find your own blueprint, then you may find that you choose what foods and what exercises make you feel awesome, you choose to nourish yourself, rather than beat yourself up.

Mel

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Helping women be themselves and love who they are in her 1:1 studio in Llanberis, North Wales, UK. By appointment only.