My 7 Best Beginner Pilates Exercises

If you are keen to try Pilates at home and you are a beginner then try my video below.

These are my favourite 7 beginner Pilates exercises.

They are gentle and easy to follow.

Each exercise focuses on:

  • core strength
  • posture
  • toning the body
  • strengthening the right muscle groups to support your spine and prevent back pain.

Have fun and share the video if you like it! 🙂

Make sure you have a clearance from your health care professional to do Pilates if you have any new or old injuries or medical conditions. 

For a specialised Pilates program click on this link: Pilates for Back Pain.

5 Reasons to do Pilates during Pregnancy

  1. Stay Safe- Aerobic exercise can be challenging for pregnant ladies especially during the later stages of pregnancy due to the baby’s need for greater oxygen and the extra load on the body. Morning sickness can also be an issue during the early stages of pregnancy making intense exercise uncomfortable. Pregnancy Pilates is gentle and can be done at a reduced intensity making it a great form of exercise during Pregnancy.

Remember that you must get permission from your doctor before you start Pilates when you are pregnant.

  1. Stay strong– Our body needs to be strong to handle the weight gain during pregnancy as well as the increased demands after the birth. Breast-feeding, nursing and lifting the baby in and out of cots, prams and cars can be stressful on the body so it’s important to stay as strong as possible. Pilates is great for strengthening the body.
  1. Reduce Back Pain– Spinal curves increase during each trimester as the body’s centre of gravity changes when the belly grows. Pilates can help by reducing stress on the spine through strengthening and stretching appropriate muscle groups.
  1. Stay Cool- Pilates is mostly done indoors which can be cooler for the body especially in the summer months.
  1. Stay Toned– Pilates is great for toning the body as it works on individual muscle groups.

Note Make sure you go to a small group class or do a private Pilates session if you have never done Pilates before. If you would like to try an online Beginner Pregnancy Pilates course that is designed specifically for each trimester, click on the link below. I hope you enjoy it! Please send me any questions that you might have. Fleur 🙂 

Beginner Pilates Course Link

Stretches

Stretching can be beneficial for the body in a number of ways. It can help to:

  • Lubricate the joints
  • Improve your posture
  • Promote blood flow to the area being stretched
  • Relax the mind and body
  • Heal musculoskeletal injuries
  • Improve the range of motion of your joints

When we sit all day at work it is very important to get up, move around and stretch as many times as possible throughout the day.

Try the stretching video below. It works all the muscle groups in our body.

If you feel any pain stop or decrease the stretch. I hope you enjoy it! 🙂

Whole Body Stretches

 

Standing Pilates For Less Pain and To Tone Your Body

Stand-Up and Try Standing Pilates

Some people find it difficult to exercise down on the floor due to pain, dizziness, pregnancy or lack of space.

Standing Pilates can beneficial for several reasons:

  • The standing exercises are practical and similar to our everyday movements and activities.
  • Most people sit all day at work so it is great to stand-up and exercise.
  • Standing Pilates will improve your balance, posture and strength….which will help reduce back pain and injuries.

Take is slowly to begin with and make sure you think about your technique rather than rushing through the program. This video is all about the quality of each movement, rather than the quantity. If you have any feedback leave your comments below. For more videos check out this link: Tone and Strengthen 

Note: Feel free to lean one hand on a kitchen bench or wall to begin with…if you are finding it hard to balance.

Increased Lower Back Curve

Many people have an increased lower back curve (lordosis) and this can put stress on the spinal joints, ligaments, discs and muscles. In the long-term this can cause chronic pain and stiffness as our spine is designed to have a neutral curve so that there is even stress throughout the spine.

Increased Lower Back Curve

Reasons for an increased lower back curve include:

  • a genetic predisposition
  • weak muscles such as the abdominals, hamstrings and gluteal muscles
  • tight muscles such as quadriceps, hip flexors, adductors and lumbar spine erector spinae muscles

It may be beneficial to strengthen the weak muscles and stretch the tight ones to decrease stress on your lumbar spine. Overtime this may decrease your lumbar curve and reduce lower back pain.

Below is a video that demonstrates a few Pilates stretches and strengthening exercises for you to try at home. They are designed to decrease stress on your spine if you have an increased lumbar curve. I suggest you do them a few times a week to see if this helps you. If you have any pain while doing them stop straight away. Good-luck! 🙂

For more Pilates exercises check out my Udemy Program.

Foam Roller Massage

A foam roller can be a great massage tool when used properly. Some of the benefits are:

  • Decreasing back stiffness/tightness
  • Reducing muscle spasm
  • Better posture

Using a foam roller may even help to reduce back pain. Some of my patients have great results when using a roller properly and not too forcefully.

In this video I explain how to use a roller and why it is important to be careful when using it to massage your spine.

Note: Avoid using a foam roller for massage if you have acute back pain. 

Foam Roller Massage Demonstration

Mini Sugar Detox

Over the past 4 weeks I have undertaken a mini sugar detox and had very interesting results. The purpose of it was to see if I could reduce my refined sugar intake considerably, as I had started to eat way too much sweet food over the past few years. This included biscuits, chocolate or cake almost everyday. So the day after my Birthday I decided to go for it. I had seen the latest research on the harmful effects of sugar such as increasing inflammation in the body, obesity, impaired brain function, heart disease and diabetes, so I knew that it was time to make a change.

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The Process

I had decided that fruit was still allowed as well as some sugar-free snacks such as homemade protein balls (containing prunes which are very sweet) and carob. This kept me going when I got a sweet craving. I also ate some sugar-free muffins occasionally that had a small amount of honey in them. I decided to do this to preserve my sanity as well as make the whole process more sustainable so that I could maintain it after the 28 days were up.

The First Week

The first thing that happened was I started to eat more overall. I was hungry all the time and eating everything I could get my hands on. Thankfully, this slowed down after the first week. I wasn’t worried about putting on weight as I figured that the extra food I was eating was not as calorie rich as cake, biscuits or other sugary foods.

Treatments

I made sure that I had some treatments to help relax my mind and allow my whole body to become healthier in the process. So I did yoga once a week and meditated everyday for about 10 minutes. I also had Chiropractic, massage and a Reiki session once each over the 4 weeks. I know that sugar is highly addictive and realised that my body would be withdrawing from it and might need some help along the way.

My Results

Apart from feeling more stressed over the first few weeks I eventually became calmer. I stopped using social media as much which was interesting. I didn’t want to check my Instagram and Facebook accounts as regularly. This made me more focused and I felt like I had more time to do other things such as reading and exercising. But the most significant change was in my joints. I have been a Chiropractor for the past 15 years and after a long day of work I had found that my fingers were becoming slightly stiff. After about 2 weeks sugar-free I noticed that my hands felt freer. Well, this surprised me the most as I was not expecting this change. It was possible that the reduced sugar intake had decreased the amount of inflammation in my body and allowed my joints to move better.

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The Last Week

I was already surprised by the positive results that the sugar detox was having on my body and then I went for a swim and felt amazing. For the last 6 months I have been swimming occasionally in order to be fit enough to do a mini- triathlon and it had been really hard for me. But during the last week of my detox I started to feel like I had more energy and swimming felt so much easier!

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Have A Go

I am really happy and surprised with my results and will continue to decrease my sugar intake in the future. I recommend you have a go at a mini-detox of some kind and see what happens. Have a think about what type of food or drink you over consume and see if you can reduce it for a few weeks and see what happens. If you suffer from chronic pain or arthritis then a sugar detox might be a good option for you. Good-luck and enjoy the process!!! Let me know how you go and tell your friends or family so you can inspire them to be healthier too!

Meditation for Reducing Back Pain

Meditation has many benefits and some studies have even found that it can lower blood pressure, improve your immune system and decrease stress levels.

But how can meditation help people with back pain?

Over the past 21 days I have embarked on the 21-Day Meditation Experience put together by Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra. During that time I felt more relaxed and centred everyday. I also became more aware of how much tension there is in my body.

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When I treat people with back pain in my clinic I have noticed that many people have high stress levels. Most people know that stress increases muscle tension in the body. This is due to the fact that our sympathetic nervous system is stimulated and we have a fight-or-flight response during stressful situations. This is our body’s way of responding to the stressor so that if we are feeling threatened our muscles can contract quickly and help us get out of the situation and run or fight the predator! This is a perfectly normal response to stress but if we have long-term anxiety/stress our muscles may not get the chance to fully relax and recover. Overtime this may lead to back pain and injury due to constant muscle tension throughout the body creating an imbalance.

Practice Makes Perfect
So next time you feel stressed or anxious notice where your body is feeling tense. Take some deep breaths, have a stretch and relax.
I would suggest checking your body a few times a day and notice where you feel the tightest. Some of the common areas of tension are your jaw, neck, shoulders, hips and buttocks muscles.

Meditate
Aim to meditate at least once a day for 20 minutes. At the start of your session scan your body for tightness and try and relax that area by imagining that you are breathing through it. If that doesn’t work contract the muscle group for 5 seconds and then relax. Repeat this step a few times until the tight areas of your body feel more relaxed. Then take some deep breaths and observes your thoughts. Don’t worry if your mind is racing initially. Eventually your mind will slow down and this will help your body to relax more.

If you are finding it hard to meditate in silence then download an app and they will guide you through the process with some relaxing music in the background.

I hope this helps with your pain and tightness. Aim to meditate for at least 21 days in a row (20mins each session) as it will take a few weeks to notice any changes and form a habit. I am pretty sure you will notice a difference to your body and feel better overall.

Remember that people that don’t have the time to meditate are probably the ones that need it the most. Good-luck and have fun! ☺

Nutrition and Exercise For Back Pain

Recently I had the pleasure of chatting to Leith Johanson, Nurtritionist and Personal Trainer.

During the interview we discussed topics such as dieting, exercising when you have back pain and anti-inflammatory foods.

Leith has suffered from chronic back pain for many years as she was a rower previously.

I am sure you will find this interview informative and interesting.

We hope you enjoy it! 🙂

Pilates Core Training For Back Pain Sufferers

Pilates training is great for preventing back pain.

Over the last few months I have been studying mat Pilates so that I can teach.

Previously, I attended Pilates classes for several years while I was competing and training in athletics. During that time I felt my core strength improve dramatically as well as flexibility. Pilates also helped me to overcome a serious back injury.

So, now I am able to help other people improve their strength and fitness through Pilates.

In the video below I teach the basics of working your T-Zone.

What is your T-Zone?

The T-Zone is a Pilates term to describe your deep abdominal muscle (tranversus abdominis) and pelvic floor. It must be activated during all Pilates exercises to stabilise the spine and pelvis. Strengthening this zone will also give you a flatter stomach, stronger core and less back pain.

Now watch the video below and see if you can activate it.

Stay tuned over the next few months as I will be releasing more basic Pilates videos.

Like my Facebook page by following this link: https://www.facebook.com/spinehealthprogram/

Yoga for Back Pain

Kikimo Itoyama is an amazing yoga teacher who has been practising yoga in Japan for 10 years.

In this interview she talks about the benefits of yoga and the importance of having a strong core. 

This is particularly important if you suffer from back pain.

She also demonstrates some great back stretches and exercises at the end. 

NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS ARE BACK!

Number 1: Have Less Back Pain and Better Posture

Most people start the New Year with a resolution or two but don’t end up completing them.

Lack of motivation is probably the main reason that we don’t achieve our goals.

So, if one of your resolutions is to decrease back pain and/or improve your posture here are some ideas to get you started and keep you going.

Often poor posture leads to back pain and vice versa so it is important to address both issues. Here is some motivation for you:

1. REVERSE THE AGEING PROCESS

We all know that being hunched over when you walk or sit makes you look older and less attractive and confident. So, by working on your posture now you may just stay looking vibrant and healthier for longer.

2. BE ACTIVE AS YOU AGE

Chronic back pain can be debilitating. If you don’t try and combat it now you may end up unable to do simple things such as play in the park or beach with your kids/grandkids in the future. It can also be a strain on your finances and relationships too. 

3. STAY SLIM

Acute and chronic back pain can cause weight gain, as you may not be able to exercise for long periods of time.

4. BE HAPPY

Chronic back pain can lead to depression for a number of reasons. So it is important to address your back pain and posture now before it’s too late.

5. AVOID FINANCIAL STRESS

If you can’t work for periods of time this can affect your quality of life, employability and create stress for the family.

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Now that you are motivated to improve your posture and decrease back pain here are some ways that you can do it.

  • See a health care professional for treatment. Try and get a recommendation from a friend or family member. There are many options such as a Chiropractor, Osteopath, Physiotherapist, Massage Therapist or Acupuncturist. Keep seeing different people until you find someone that works for you, as every practitioner is different.
  • Try my Spine Health Program. It’s simple and easy to do and will show you all the tips and techniques that I teach my patients in the clinic to improve posture and decrease back pain. Here is a link: Special Back Care Resolution
  • NEVER GIVE UP! There is no magic cure to your back and posture problems. But by persevering you might just get the improvements you need to feel better and look straighter. Looking after your body is like servicing your car…it will function better with regular maintenance. Get some regular treatment even when you are feeling better to maintain your progress. I had back pain for the first time as a teenager. My mum took me to several practitioners until I found a Chiropractor that helped me considerably. I still get treatment every few months and have avoided suffering chronic back pain so far and remained very active.

So, good-luck and do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions at all or feedback. 🙂

How to stay relaxed during the Christmas period

It's that time of the year when we all go a bit crazy with work, shopping and Christmas events. So let's talk about some strategies so that you don't burn out and lose the plot just before Christmas day! This season should be for enjoyment and fun rather than stress and fatigue. Here are my top 3 strategies to help you to avoid the Christmas rush.

1. Meditate- Even 5 minutes per day may have health benefits and slow you down. Just find a quiet space, close your eyes, relax your body and take some deep breaths. Playing some relaxing music can help too!

2. Stretch- Before you get up or before you go to bed perform 3 stretches and hold for 20 seconds each. This will help to relax your mind and body before you start the day or head to sleep.

3. Schedule in a relaxing treatment such as a Massage, Chiropractic treatment, Pedicure, Manicure, Acupuncture or a Facial. This will pamper your body so you can relax and slow down!

Try at least one of these strategies and let me know how you go.

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas period and manage to get in some rest and holiday time! 

Thanks for taking the time to read this blog post and for your support this year too! 

Take care and stay healthy! :) 

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Lower Back Pain and Disc Injuries Explained

Is your lower back pain caused by a disc bulge?

According to recent research a disc injury can account for about 40% of lower back pain symptoms.

Common terms to describe a disc injury are: disc bulge, herniation, prolapse, protrusion or sequestration.

An injury to a disc can lead to sciatica, lower back pain, numbness, pins and needles or weakness.

Watch my short video below to understand what you are dealing with and how to manage this common back condition.

This informative slideshow explains everything you need to know about disc injuries. I will talk about these topics:

  • The contents of a lumbar disc and its role in your body.
  • Types of disc injuries explained including disc bulges, herniations, protrusions and sequestrations.
  • The main causes of disc damage.
  • Diagnosing a disc injury effectively.
  • Red flags for lower back pain.

These questions will be answered too:

Is it possible for a disc to heal?
What is conservative treatment?
Why are some disc bulges painful and others pain free?

I hope you enjoy it! 🙂

Health News Of The Week

Fasting Can Give the Immune System a Boost

Scientists at the University of Southern California have discovered that fasting for 3 days can regenerate the immune system. Their study found that fasting prompts stem cells to create new white blood cells, which can fight off infection. More studies are required and they recommend that any fasting should be done under the guidance of a doctor.

For further reading:
Fasting

Sitting For Long Periods Won’t Kill You

New research has contradicted the findings that sitting for long periods may lead to an early death if you are otherwise active. The study of 5000 people found that sitting at home or work is not putting you at risk of dying and that the problem is not in the act of sitting but actually the reduction in physical activity. The scientists believe that the public health priority should not be reducing sitting time but increasing physical activity.

More details:
Science Daily

You Will Be Healthier If You Are Born In Summer

A Cambridge University study of about 450, 000 participant has found that children born in summer and early autumn are more likely to be healthy adults. Researchers believe that the findings could reflect the mother’s exposure to sunlight, air pollution, diet and physical activity.
The findings may also be related to the increased sun exposure during the second trimester (a critical period in the development of the foetus). Further research is required to translate the health benefits.

The Full Story

Are You Getting Lower Back Pain After Exercise?

Many people start exercise programs and fail because they develop an injury or aches and pains that are unbearable. There’s a difference between general muscle soreness that is normal after starting a training program, and sharp lower back pain or an annoying ache that creeps up on you a few days after a workout.

So, what is the solution to this common problem? Here are some options:

  1. Stop training for a few days and hope that the lower back pain goes away.
  2. Ignore the pain and train through it until the pain becomes worse.
  3. Stop training for good and go back to the old program of minimal exercise.
  4. Seek treatment from a qualified health professional and get it sorted out.

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We all know that option four is the best if you want long-term success. But most people don’t want to spend the time or money on treatment and will give up.

According to statistics, approximately 50% of people will stop training after 6 months of starting an exercise program. Most people give up due to lack of time, fatigue or lack of motivation. Also, there are some people that will stop due to pain or injury.

So, here are my tips for exercising long-term and avoiding back pain:

  • Get a check-up from a health professional (Chiropractor, Exercise Physiologist of Physiotherapist) to assess your body and determine your strengths and weaknesses and to help you to develop an exercise program that will suit your body type.
  • Start very slowly. That way your body won’t break down and you can gradually get accustomed to your new routine.
  • Do exercise that you enjoy and motivates you because you like it.
  • If you are prone to back pain start a basic core program to strengthen your body at least a month before you start proper training. Here is a link to a very basic strength program that is easy to do and designed for a beginner. http://www.spinehealthprogram.com/programs/

Good-luck and never give up trying to stay healthy and active!

Is Over-Stretching Making Your Back Pain Worse?

I was prompted to write this story by a friend who asked me for a Chiropractic treatment recently. She sent me a message on Facebook asking if she could get her back looked at as soon as she arrived back to Sydney as she had been undertaking an intense yoga training course and her back had been sore for 3 weeks. She said:

“I’ve been getting lots of massages but nothing is helping it.”

I instantly had flash backs to intense yoga sessions which I had done quite a bit of in the past. Don’t get me wrong, I love yoga and I always feel so good after a class. But previously, a few days after a session my back would go into spasm and I would have back pain for a few days. So, nowadays I do very gentle yoga just once a week and everything is fine.

Let’s talk about why this could happen and I have some suggestions for people that love yoga but it may be causing them some back pain. This article is also for people that get back pain and then do lots of stretches hoping that it will relieve the pain, but it actually can make it worse.

Is over-stretching bad for you?

Unfortunately there is a limited amount of research done on this topic. There are a few research articles that look into the optimal duration to hold a stretch. Research has found that 30 seconds is the perfect time. Longer than that and the muscle length will increase but there can be a decrease in muscle strength. This might be why after intense yoga sessions I felt pain, as the muscles may have been overstretched and the strength of the muscle supporting my spine decreased, making my back more vulnerable to getting injured. So it is advisable that you hold a stretch for about 30 seconds, especially if you are about to do strenuous activity.

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Some basic stretching tips:

  • If a stretch is painful don’t do it. Stretching should feel relaxing not painful and difficult.
  • Stretches that involves bending forward and twisting are particular stressful for your spinal discs (the squishy part between your vertebrae). So if you have had disc problems do them very carefully and don’t push yourself even if your instructor encourages you to.
  • When starting yoga or any similar program always go to a beginner’s class and start slowly.
  • Don’t forget that strengthening your core is just as important as stretching so do a combination of both. Pilates is great for strengthening your core muscles but always make sure you take it easy to start with.

I hope that you enjoyed reading this story. If you have any questions please send me a message. If you would like a very easy stretching and stretching program check out my Spine Health Program.

 

Some research articles:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18296954

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23524367

Top Health News of The Week

1. Current Diet and Exercise Programs Don’t Work

A study conducted in the UK has analysed 278, 983 heath records and found that diet and exercise are not effective in tackling obesity.

The chance of an obese person attaining normal body weight was 1 in 210 for men and 1 in 124 for women. The findings suggest that current weight management programs do not work.

The research, funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), used electronic health records from 2004 to 2014.

More details…

2. People in Small Towns Are Happier 

An Australian survey has found that women in Queensland appear to be the happiest in the country. Also, Aussies who live in towns with less than 1000 people are significantly happier than those in big cities.

The study was conducted by the University of Melbourne on about 17, 000 people. The survey also found that men continue to be more satisfied with their partners than women, even more so if the partner doesn’t work.

Full story here

3. Oxygen Treatment Helps Fibromyalgia Sufferers 

Research at Tel Aviv University on women with fibromyalgia has found that hyperbaric oxygen treatment drastically reduced pain medication or even eliminated the use of pain medication in some cases. The study involved 48 women who received 40 hyperbaric oxygen treatments — 90-minute treatments exposing patients to pure oxygen at twice the atmospheric pressure, five days a week over the course of two months. The findings require further study.

Read more

5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Your Back Pain

1. Don’t Be A Statistic

According to the 2013 Global Burden of Disease Study low back pain is the leading cause of disability around the world. This means that it affects more people for a longer period of time then any other non-fatal disease.

More info…

2. You will put on weight

If you have constant back ache there is a good chance that you can’t exercise regularly due to the pain. Over a period of time this results in weight gain due to inactivity. This vicious cycle may also create more back pain due to stress on the spine.

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 3. You may develop depression

In patients with chronic pain presenting for treatment, the prevalence of major depression in Australia is 30–40%. The psychological and physical distress of persistent pain may precipitate an episode of major depression.

To read more about this click on the link below:

https://www.mja.com.au/open/2012/1/4/depression-and-chronic-pain

4. It Looks Bad

People suffering from back pain often have poor posture or have to lean forward or to one side if the pain is severe. This will make them look older than they are, and unconfident.

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 5. The back pain may get worse

If you ignore your back pain and it goes away without treatment or proper rehabilitation there is a good chance that it might come back, and be worse this time and last for longer. I see this in my clinic a lot. I feel that if you treat your back properly in the first place and maintain the exercises you are given and get some regular ‘hands on’ treatment, the chance of reoccurrence will be less.

Weekly Health News

High Sugar Diet Impairs Gut and Brain Function

Research at The Oregon State University on mice has found that a high sugar diet was detrimental to brain function, leading not only to decreased cognitive flexibility but also to impairments in short- and long-term memory.

The study found that an increased amounts of fat and sugar in the diet altered the bodies healthy bacterial systems and this influenced the brain. This is part of a growing body of research showing that the trillions of bacteria living in the gut can have a major influence on brain function and mental health.

Read more…

Climate Change is a Medical Emergency

A panel of international experts has gathered to discuss the issue of climate change on health. Their review found that climate change threatens to undermine the global developments in health. The health problems will be due to urban smog causing respiratory disease and cardiac stress, food insecurity and spread of mosquito-borne disease as insects spread to warmer habitats. They urged governments to respond to climate change now claiming that it is a medical emergency.

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/lifestyle/health/how-climate-change-will-affect-your-health/story-fni0diac-1227411102386

Cheaper Drugs May Not Be the Answer

A legislation has been passed in Australia allowing chemists to switch prescribed medicines onto cheaper drugs that are similar but not exactly the same. The government stands to save $880 million if it can shift prescribed drugs to biosimilar medicines. The policy has attracted outrage and concern from medical specialists, consumers groups, and even the drug companies as there is currently insufficient evidence to show that switching is safe.

More details…