Take it Easy

Posted on March 13, 2017 at 8:25 PM

Why a gentle exercise program may bring you closer to your fitness goals rather than high impact to start.

Consistency is key in any workout program. Pilates and Yoga both encourage core strength, flexibility and breathing. What makes them unique is that they are low-impact. All movement has benefits. And although high impact exercise might seem like it will get you there faster, harder isn’t always better.

Exercise is best applied in progressions. Pilates workouts generally starting lying down on your back working the front of the body, then lying face down working the back of the body, and then side-lying incorporating the front and the back together. Starting lying down is easy on the spine and encourages the back to decompress. From there, practicing exercises seated, kneeling and then standing help to understand how the body works with gravity in natural progressions.

Understanding deep breathing is an essential component of core strength. Imagine a muscular dome on the inside of your rib cage. This muscle, called the diaphragm, acts like a bellows to draw air into your lungs. The diaphragm stabilizes the rib cage and spine, and allows the rib cage to float on top of your hips. Your diaphragm muscle is the top of your core, and can relieve low back pain in a long deep breath because the diaphragm tendons attach to 3 of the 5 low back vertebrae. If you’re suffering from neck pain or low back pain, adjusting your breathing techniques by diaphragmatically breathing can change your symptoms quickly. A Pilates session will typically start with long deep breathing and a Pilates instructor observing to make sure you are accessing fibers of the diaphragm muscle 360 degrees around, optimizing your breath volume and core support. Although this may not seem like “hard work”, diaphragmatic breathing is key to establishing a safe foundation for movement both in low-impact and high-impact exercise.

The body has groups of muscles that work together, like friends holding hands I say. Getting the rhythm of these muscle groups working together can be done with slow and deliberate movements, which becomes like a moving meditation. Moving slowly at first can be deeply relaxing and satisfying because your body sings when the right muscles work together and pain is relieved.

Using the massage technique, Yamuna Body Rolling is a compliment to the Pilates and Yoga because sometimes we have muscles that are overactive or tight that inhibit this rhythmic collaboration of the optimal muscles working together. Combing myofascial release, or self massage with a ball will take your workouts to the next level. Yamuna Body Rolling is one of the best ways to get those segments of muscles working together because the fascia or tissue that encases the muscles connects those lines of muscles that I described as “friends holding hands”.  As you body roll, it’s like a game of connect the dots, as your hamstrings release, your calves might be next, and then your spine, connecting the back line of the body. When it’s time to stand your body will be organized, aligned, relaxed, released, and optimally supported by your diaphragmatic breathing.

Coordinating diaphragmatic breathing and understanding how to incorporate the other muscles of the core are next. This includes the deep abdominals that are like a belt around the waist, the pelvic floor muscles, and the Lumbar multifidi or muscles that connect the vertebrae of the low back.  Learning how to breathe and hold in your abs correctly is the number one question I get in Pilates, and takes time to master. Eventually your deep breathing will naturally or unconsciously encourage your deep abdominals to wrap around your waist and support your spine. All of this is necessary before starting high impact exercise or adding weights or resistance. Preventing injury is the key way to keep your workout program consistent.

Want to make sure you’re doing it right? I am happy to observe you exercise, give you movements that are best for your body, and body roll with you to align you for success.

Contact [email protected] for a breathing and core assessment.

Copyright Hawa Robin Cahn March 2017

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