Shoulder strengthening exercise for stability

Best exercises for shoulder pain

Man with good shoulder movement reaching for a book

Our shoulder joints are specifically designed to allow an amazing range of movement. The drawback to this design is that they require a lot of support from the muscles around them to keep them healthy and pain free.

Lots of painful conditions around the shoulder are caused by sitting for long periods in the same position, often while using a computer. This allows the muscles around the front of your shoulder (which are often being used) to become tight and strong, whilst others around the back of your shoulder are underused and become weak.

Try these two moves to rebalance your shoulders and prevent shoulder pain from developing:

Shoulder blade press ups

Shoulder strengthening exercise for stability

  • Kneel on all fours with your knees under your hips and your hands under your shoulders
  • Place a band around your shoulders and trap it under your hands
  • Draw in your abdominals slightly and breathe in to prepare
  • Breathe out to press the floor away with your hands so your ribcage is lifted slightly
  • Breathe in to relax again keeping your elbows straight

Shoulder rotation with resistance band

Shoulder strengthening for healthy shoulders

  • Hold the band between both hands, keeping your elbows tucked into your waist
  • Breathe out to tighten your abdominals and move your hands apart pulling on the band
  • Breathe in to relax

I hope you like these exercises but remember that it’s really important if you work at a desk to try to move as often as you can throughout the day. Even if you were able to be set up in the most perfect position, you’re still designed to be on the move!

Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions.

The Pilatesfit Team!

Call us on 01223 914415 to book a private class or book online for group classes.

Patient waiting for neck physiotherapy

Pilates exercises for neck pain

Neck pain is often accompanied by shoulder blade pain, tight muscles and headaches. So its not surprising that having an issue with your neck can impact significantly on your feeling of wellbeing.

Quite a number of the clients we see with neck pain have symptoms that can be attributed to accumulative strain on the muscles, tendons and ligaments that support the spine. This is often due to sitting for long periods which causes the postural muscles to become weaker.

For people with neck pain we normally recommend a postural strengthening programme targeting muscles that support the neck as well as the upper back. Here are a couple of our favourites:

Swan Dive

Exercise to strengthen the neck muscles - pilates physiotherapy

  • Lie on your front with your hand resting under your forehead.
  • Breathe out an hover your breastbone off the floor. Allow your head to follow the movement but withouy lifting (imagine holding a soft peach between your chin and chest).
  • Hold for 5 seconds. Relax and repeat.

Breast stroke prep

exercise to strengthen the upper back pilates physiotherapy

  • Lie on your front with your hands resting down by your side and your forehead resting on a folded towel.
  • Breathe out to slide your shoulder blades down towards your hips you and float your arms off the mat to hip height. Keep your head resting on the mat. Hold for 5 seconds. Return and repeat.

The stronger your muscles, the better they can tolerate the stresses and strains of your working day.

As always, call us if you need any advice.

The Pilatesfit Team

Call us on 01223 914415 to book a private class or book online for group classes.

Best pilates exercises for an ankle sprain

After an ankle sprain it’s not uncommon to still be experiencing some problems a few months down the line.

This is because spraining your ankle can leave you with some muscle weakness and a loss of your normal balance reactions. So pain and swelling can come on when you’ve been on your feet for a while or after walking over uneven ground.

Exercises that focus on building up strength in your muscles and gradually challenge your balance will restore support for your ankle joint and improve your reaction times. So you can return to your normal activates or sport without pain or restriction.

You can start these kinds of exercises as soon as you like after a sprain, so long as they are comfortable and don’t provoke swelling.

Here are a couple of my favourites:

Ankle sprain foot series 

An exercise to strengthen the calf muscles after an ankle sprain

  • Bend your knees and lift your heels.
  • Press all the way up onto tip toes
  • Lower your heels again and repeat 10 times slowly and with good control.

Tips: You can hold onto a wall for balance when you first begin but try to work up to going through the movement without any support as you get better.

Running man

  • Stand on one leg and bend your knee up to 90 degrees.
  • Slowly bring the raised leg down and reach backwards behind you.
  • Swing your arms in a running motion as you move your leg back and forth
  • Return to the start position and repeat.

Tips: when you first begin you can keep your toe on the floor and slide it behind you to make it a bit easier but as your balance improves try not to touch down with your foot as you reach backwards.

Unfortunately, once you’ve had an ankle sprain you are far more likely to experience another so sticking to an ankle rehab programme is vital to avoid ending up back where you started.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to give us a call.

The Physiofit Team!

Call us on 01223 914415 to book a private class or book online for group classes.

Best pilates exercises for cyclists

Whether you enjoy road, mountain or leisurely cycling – we think all cyclists can benefit from pilates exercises from novices through to the elite athlete.

Here are our favorite exercises for cyclists to stretch out and rebalance muscle activity after a ride and to strengthen up key areas of your body to reduce aches and pains and enhance performance.

1. Shoulder bridge
You can strengthen your buttock muscles (glutes) and mobilise your whole spine by practicing a shoulder bridge. Stronger glutes mean better alignment of your knees when pedaling and that reduces the risk of knee pain. Here’s how it’s done properly:

• Lie on your back with your knees bent.
• Breathe out and curl up your tailbone so your lower back is gently pressed into the mat.
• Keep scooping up your tailbone and peel your backbones off the floor one at a time until you are resting on your shoulder blades.
• Breathe in and hold.
• Breathe out and lower your ribcage, then your lower back and finally your pelvis and tailbone last.

2. Extension over foam roller
Reverse the forward stooped posture of the upper back by extending your upper back out over a foam roller:

• Lie on your back with your knees bent and the foam roller at the level of your shoulder blades. Place your hands behind your head to support your neck.
• Breathe out and lower your head.
• Breathe in to hold.
• Breathe out to lift your upper body again.

Keep your abs tight and try not to let your lower back arch during the movement.

3. Quadriceps stretches
Quads naturally get very tight with cycling – as a muscle gets stronger, it usually shortens. When the quads are tight they pull forwards on the pelvis and lower back, which can cause back pain. Tight quads will also compress your kneecap against the thigh bone, which over time can cause inflammation and knee pain. Simply stretch after a ride, maybe even daily if they feel tight. Here’s what to do …

• Lie face down.
• Reach back and take hold of your ankle.
• Press back into your hand and hold for 10 seconds.
• Exhale, gently pulling your ankle toward your hip.
• Repeat three times on each side.

4. Hamstring stretches
Tight hamstrings mean that you have less flexibility in your hips and your lower back has to compensate by bending more than it should. It’s much safer to bend from the hip, so you can use the stronger gluteal muscles properly rather than the smaller back muscles. More flexible hamstrings mean better posture on the bike, a happier back and the ability to ride for longer!

• Sit on the edge of a chair with one leg straight out in front of you and the other knee bent.
• Bend from the hip joint, keeping your back straight, until you feel a stretch behind your straight leg.
• Hold the position for at least 30 seconds, three times each side.

5. Abdominal prep
Long periods of training with the neck arched upwards to look at the road ahead, leads to a lengthening of the muscles on the front of the neck (neck flexors) and a shortening or the muscles on the back of the neck (neck extensor). This imbalance in the muscle activity eventually causes neck pain on movement. This exercise helps to rebalance the neck muscles:

• Tuck in your chin to lengthen the back of your neck as you lift your head from the mat and look at your abdominals (imagine holding a soft peach under your chin).
• Breathe out and reach away through your hands, lifting your shoulder blades off the floor.
• Breathe in to hold.
• Breathe out to lower again.

If you experience neck ache, place your hands behind your head for support.

Prevention is better than cure so if you’re serious about your cycling training and you want to prevent injuries then you have to work on posture on and off the bike, flexibility and gluteal strength.

Hope to see you on Strava – The Physiofit team!

Call us on 01223 914415 to book a private class or book online for group classes.

What are the differences between Pilates and Yoga?

  1. Core strengthening:

Pilates exercises are more intensely focused on core strengthening than Yoga.Toning is achieved though precise repetitive movements often using weights or equipment to build strength.

Yoga practice builds strength and endurance in the core muscles through sustained postures (asanas) but this is not the main focus.

  1. Body and mind connection:

An important part of Pilates practice is focus and the connection between your mind and body using visualisations to improve movement patterns but it is strictly a physical exercise program.

Yoga is fundamentally a spiritual practice, teaching you how to quiet your mind and enter a meditative state.

  1. Back pain:

Pilates definitely has more of a focus on physical conditioning. Research suggests that ‘non- specific’ back pain can be greatly improved through regular Pilates practice by correcting muscle imbalances and strengthening the muscles which improve posture.

Yoga practice can significantly improve spinal flexibility and strength, although some postures would be considered unsuitable for certain back conditions. Yoga has a strong focus on well-being and is likely to reduce stress which can be a trigger for certain types of spinal pain.

To read more about this topic please click on this click:

Pilates vs Yoga – 4 ways they are different

Call us on 01223 914415 to book a private class or book online for group classes.

How to reduce bloating

These are a few tips given to me by a Nutritional Therapist who works at our studio.

1) Chew, chew, chew your food…. by eating slowly and not bolting your food you will avoid swallowing air which leads to bloating.

2) Don’t eat on the run! Practice mindful eating; sit, relax and enjoy the flavours and textures of your meal.

3) Avoid carbonated drinks as the gas can get trapped and build up, causing bloating. If you find water boring try flavouring it with lemon, lime, cucumber or mint.

4) Don’t chew gum! It will lead you to swallowing air and yes- to that bloated feeling.

5) Avoid artificial sweeteners as the body can’t digest them – the result is gas and guess what? Bloating!

Feeling bloated during a Pilates class is no fun at all … try our Pilates Smoothie for slow release energy and a healthy boost of leafy greens:

Pre workout smoothie for Pilates

Call us on 01223 914415 to book a private class or book online for group classes.

How to breathe properly during Pilates

If you struggle with the breathing during Pilates then you’re are in good company!

As a beginner it can seem ‘back to front’ to begin with so it’s really common to find yourself breathing out when your teacher is telling everyone to breathe in.

It can also be a challenge to change the way you breathe because lots of people let their shoulders rise and fall while breathing in and out and so expanding your ribs to the side when you draw in a breath (lateral breathing) can feel unnatural.

However, there are a few of good reasons for persevering with the ‘proper breathing’ as you practice …

  1. Breathing into the base of your ribs makes it easier to keep a consistent tightness in your abdominal muscles that makes the exercises more effective overall.
  2. Breathing out on the effortful part of the movement increases the muscle activity in your deep abdominals to protect your back.
  3. It will stop you from holding your breathe during the hard bits!

A good way to practice is to place your hands on either side of the bottom of your ribcage and press in gently. Breathe in and think about moving your hands by expanding your ribs outwards. Let your ribcage relax as you breathe out.

When you get the hang of this try tightening your core as you breathe out and then hold consistently as you practice the lateral breathing pattern.

Correcting your posture will also help – click on this link to read more about this:

How to correct your posture in standing

Call us on 01223 914415 to book a private class or book online for group classes.

How to begin your pilates practice

Practicing Pilates regularly really does help to raise awareness of the way you move and applying the things you learn in class to everyday activity makes a big difference if you want to see improvement.

Follow these steps to begin your practice :

  • Rock slightly from your heels to the balls of your feet and back again and find a the balance point where there is equal weight bearing between your big toe, little toe and heel.
  • Soften your knees slightly.
  • Tilt your pelvis forward so your tailbone moves out behind you, then tuck it under to flatten your back. Move your tailbone to the middle of these two positions and hold it there.
  • Lengthen through your spine, imagining the crown of your head being pulled up by an invisible cord.
  • Slide your shoulder blades down your back.
  • Breathe in to lengthen your spine and stand tall. Breathe out to gently tighten your lower tummy muscles, drawing them away from the line of your trousers.

The more frequently you practice, the natural this posture will feel as your body develops its ‘muscle memory’.

Strengthening the muscles that support your pelvis and spine will help you to maintain this position. Click on this link for a great exercise I recommend to strengthen your upper back, shoulders and neck:

strengthening exercise

Call us on 01223 914415 to book a private class or book online for group classes.