Pilates: Side Plank

Focusing your mind and body on great technique is the essence of pilates. Side plank is one example of an exercise that requires focus from both. Side Plank helps improve upper body strength, it can also be the reason for shoulder pain or injury if done improperly. It is imperative for you to use correct shoulder mechanics during while moving into the exercise, holding the plank and moving out of the plank to avoid unnecessary injuries.


1. Improves Balance to Support the Body

2. Helps Strengthen the Upper Body & Shoulders

3. Improves Lateral Core Control

The Side Plank exercise is one of the original Pilates Matwork exercises that Joseph Pilates describes in his book Return to Life. In Return to Life, the Side Plank exercise is called The Side Bend. Regardless of the name you use for this exercise, here are a few exercise tips to help you improve technique and get the best whole-body health benefits from your workouts.


Starting Position:

• Sit on your right hip with the knees slightly bent. Preferably the legs are stacked on top of each other. Or, place the top leg forward, feet hip width apart, to help keep the hips stacked and assist with balance.

• Support on the right arm, under / inline with the shoulder, with the fingers pointing away from the body.

• Keep the right elbow bent and the shoulder pulling down away from the ear.
• The left arm rests along the left side of the body.

• Eyes look straight ahead.

Executing The Side Plank Exercise:

• Inhale, pull down the shoulder blade and begin lifting the ribcage, hips, and thighs up off the mat. Balance on the right arm and shoulder, and side of the foot.

• The non-supporting arm can assist by reaching up to the ceiling to create a T-shape. Having both arms reach away from the body helps to spread the shoulder blades and activate the serratus and lat muscles to support the lifted position.

• Using the Pelvic Floor will help balance and body control.

• Activate the muscles along the outside of the supporting leg to keep the hips lifted.

Source: www.selfgrowth.com

• Hold the body lifted up off the mat and breathe.
The goal is to hold the plank for a minimum of 30 seconds.

• To transition out of the exercise, bend the elbow and pull the shoulder down first, then with control, begin lowering the hip to the mat.

High Heels Survival Tips

For many of the women who in with ankle, knee or lower back pain, the cause is the same. High heels.
If you’re attached to your high heels, the following stretches – three times a day at least – will help give you maximum style points for minimum injury risk.

1. Calf stretch

Stand with your toes on the edge of a step and relax your heels down, until you feel a stretch through the back of your legs. Stretch for 45-60 seconds.

2. Thigh stretch

Counteracting the anterior tilt that heels cause to the pelvis. When in a standing position simply lift your ankle to your bottom, pushing the hip forward. Hold for 45-60 secs. Repeat for the other leg.

3. Arch stretch

By shortening the muscles under the foot, high heels put pressure on the Achilles tendon and calf, and can cause the arch to fall and the knee to rotate internally. To stretch out these muscles, roll a golf ball slowly under the arch with as much downward pressure as you can take, especially on any knots. It’s painful but worth it.

4. Toe stretch

An easy stretch that you can do at your desk. Pull your toes back and up, and hold for 60 secs. You’re working and strengthening the shin muscle, counterbalancing the shortening effects of heels on your calf muscles.

5. Remember

High heels are designed for standing around in looking glamorous, not for hiking. So wear flats to and from work and keep heels under your desk for going out.

Source: Ten Pilates

Can Pilates Help Your Tennis Game?

Sports place their own distinct set of pressures and stresses on the body – usually resulting in its own distinct set of injuries. Tennis is no exception.

Tennis is a high speed, high impact, power-based game, requiring rotation and extension through the spine and putting particular stress on the shoulder – usually one, rather than both. Unsurprisingly, back, hip, knee and shoulder injuries are amongst the most common.

Whether you’re a social player or a budding pro, Pilates can not only help reduce the number of common tennis injuries you pick up, it can also improve your movement, power and ultimately, your game itself.

Here’s how:

The high speed and high impact nature if tennis means the joints take a beating, particularly if you’re playing on the harder surfaces like tarmac, indoor or all-weather courts. Tennis players need strong stabilizing muscles in order to cope with the short sprints and sharp turns. Key stabilizers for tennis players are the Glutes. Pilates is a particularly effective way to isolate and strengthen these muscles, helping them stabilize the knee and produce power when moving and lunging laterally.


A lot of strain goes through the shoulder, especially during the service. Strong rotator cuff muscles are essential to stabilize and mobilize the shoulder through the range of movement required to serve with power.

In addition, the nature of most tennis strokes mean that regular players typically have posture-based imbalances through the shoulder that can lead to injuries if unaddressed.

Pilates is an excellent way to strengthen, stabilize and mobilize both the shoulder and rotator cuff, enabling you to spend less time on the couch and more time on court.

*The spine

In tennis, much of the power comes from rotation and extension through the spine. To produce these movements you need a mixture of strength and flexibility. Pilates will help loosen some of the typically tight muscles through the chest, shoulders and upper back, while strengthening the muscles through the waist. This increase in both the strength of the rotator muscles and the range of motion combines to generate more power through your strokes.

*Flexibility and suppleness

No matter what level you play at, you’re often trying to return a ball from an imperfect position, stretching forwards, sideways or overhead and frequently off-balance. Pilates’ focuses on strong core muscles will help you generate more power and reduce the risk of injury when you’re off balance, and recover your balance faster. And by increasing flexibility through the lower back, and hips, Pilates will also help you get down lower for the drop shots and up higher for the lobs.

Source: TenPilates

Ten Reason to Do Pilates

1. Pilates works your whole body

Pilates training focuses on core strength, it trains the body as an integrated whole. Pilates workouts promote strength and balanced muscle development as well as flexibility and increased range of motion for the joints.

2. Adaptable to Many Fitness Levels and Needs

Whether you are a senior just starting to exercise, an elite athlete or somewhere in between, the foundations of Pilates movement apply to you. Building from core strength, focusing on proper alignment, and a body/mind integrative approach make Pilates accessible to all. With thousands of possible exercises and modifications, Pilates workouts can be tailored to individual needs.

3. Creates Strength Without Bulk

Long, lean muscles are the name of the game here. In Pilates, we are not looking to build muscles for show. We are building toned muscles that work perfectly within the context of the body as a whole, and the functional fitness needs of a person as they move through life.

4. Increases Flexibility

In Pilates we work toward a safe increase in length and stretch of the muscles and range of motion within the joints.

5. Develops Core Strength

The core muscles of the body are the deep muscles of the back, abdomen, and pelvic floor. These are the muscles we rely on to support a strong, supple back, good posture, and efficient movement patterns. When the core is strong, the frame of the body is supported. This means the neck and shoulders can relax, and the rest of the muscles and joints are freed to do their. A nice side benefit is that the core training promotes the flat abs that we all covet.

6. Improves Posture

Good posture is a reflection good alignment supported by a strong core. It is a position from which one can move freely. Pilates movements through exercises on mat and on pilates apparatus, train the body to work with strength and fluidity.

7. Increases Energy

It might seem like a paradox, but the more you exercise, the more energy you have and the more you feel like doing (to a point, of course). Pilates gets the breath and circulation moving, stimulates the spine and muscles, and floods the body with the good feelings one gets from exercising the whole body.

8. Promotes Weight Loss and Long, Lean Appearance

If you practice Pilates regularly, it will change your body. Known for creating long, strong muscles and a leaner look; Pilates improves muscle tone, balances musculature, supports beautiful posture, and teaches you to move with ease and grace. All of these things will make you look and feel very fit.

9. Increases Awareness – Body/Mind Connection

Joseph Pilates was adamant that Pilates, or contrology as he called it, was about “the complete coordination of body, mind, and spirit.” This is one of the secrets of Pilates exercise: we practice each movement with total attention. When we exercise in this way, the body and mind unite to bring forth the most benefit possible from each exercise. The Pilates principles — centering, concentration, control, precision, breath, and flow — are key concepts that we use to integrate body and mind.

10. There are Many Ways to Learn Pilates

Pilates instruction is easy to come by these days. The ever-growing popularity of Pilates has put it on the map all over the world. It is important to start with a certified Pilates instructor who can provide you with safe and efficient instruction. To supplement your learning you can learn to practice at home.

Importance of Pilates During Pregnancy

Pilates is an ideal form of exercise for pregnancy. It is no impact, focuses on balancing and core strengthening. By practicing Pilates throughout your pregnancy, you will maintain a stronger core, experience a more comfortable pregnancy and delivery, and recover more quickly. Pilates will also help you to get back into your pre pregnancy clothes quicker.

As a woman’s posture changes during pregnancy many women experience back pain. As the baby moves your center of gravity forwards your low back experiences additional sway. In addition, the extra weight of larger breasts may cause your shoulders to round forward putting strain on your neck, shoulders and upper back. Pilates helps to release tension in these areas and also increase mobility and postural awareness. Even if you have good posture, pregnancy can challenge your ability to maintain it. Working on your posture while pregnant can alleviate muscle tension and reduce stain on your muscles, joints and ligaments.

A thorough prenatal Pilates practice focuses on stretching, relaxing and gentle toning. Strengthening your core, pelvic floor muscles and improving your breathing will go a long way to easing delivery and speeding up your recovery. In addition, the Pilates emphasis on deep breathing is wonderful for relieving stress and increasing circulation, which in turn minimizing the risk of varicose veins and leg cramps. After birth, it is recommended that you wait at least 6 to 8 weeks to resume your Pilates practice.

The Benefits of Pilates During Pregnancy Include:

•Maintain strong core muscles -Increasing the deep abdominal strength provides support for the weight of the baby and takes pressure off the spine
•Strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and create greater awareness of the muscles used during childbirth
•Increase energy levels
•Improve your evolving center of balance
•Improving muscle endurance especially in your core
•Reduce your chances of developing chronic low back pain
•Improve breathing & lung capacity
•Increase circulation – reduces the chances of developing edema (water retention)
•Promotes emotional centeredness and sense of calm – Promoting relaxation through the use of flowing movements and focus on breath
•Re-gain your pre-pregnancy body faster

Please consult with your Health Care Provider prior to attending class. No experience necessary.

Source: Forrest Pilates

Why Should Men Do Pilates?

Despite the growth of Pilates, there seems to be a misconception among men that Pilates is only for women. Women have been the first to adopt the method in masses, but Pilates is just as beneficial for men as it is for women. Pilates is not, and never was a gender thing. As a matter of fact, Pilates was developed by a man who was a boxer and a gymnast.

When men try Pilates for the first time they are surprised to find out that Pilates is not easy. Jack Cohn, a CEO of a commercial production company who took on Pilates to deal with back injuries, was marveled by the difficulty and the athleticism required by the Pilates method. His trainer Regina Joseph in an article in Pilates Style magazine shares what Jack whispered to her at one point; “Boy, I’d never expected it to be this tough. I always thought Pilates was… you know, kind of girly.”

Why Men Need Pilates More Than Women.

Many physiotherapist, doctors and sport coaches agree that based on men’s biomechanical and physical needs they could benefit from Pilates more than women. The reason is simple.

•As boys, men start training in sports earlier than girls and due to poor training practices at a young age, they don’t develop core strength and correct exercise habits. Through time, lower abdominal weaknesses and destructive workout routines can result in back pain and inflexibility, especially in the hamstrings.

•Men don’t bother to stretch after an activity and if they do they do it quickly and without much focus. Over time they develop microscopic tears in the muscles. With time scar tissue develops and when the muscle is fatigued it loses flexibility.

•Men don’t know how to engage the transversus abdominis properly. In other words, they don’t use their abs correctly.

STOTT Pilates instructors teach men how to regain flexibility, engage the core correctly and begin to treat many of the injuries and misalignments that men frequently impose on themselves.

Source: Forrest Pilates