Quote: Physical fitness is…

I mentioned the first part of this quote in an earlier post. Here’s the whole thing:

Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness. Our interpretation of physical fitness is the attainment and maintenance of a uniformly developed body with a sound mind fully capable of naturally, easily, and satisfactorily performing our many and varied daily tasks with spontaneous zest and pleasure.

Joseph Pilates

Breast Cancer and Pilates

I recently attended two days of training about Breast Cancer.

In the UK, 1 in 2 people will get cancer some time in their lives; and 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer. Risk factors are:

  • age – 80% of breast cancers are in women over the age of 50
  • lifestyle – about 40% of cancers can be prevented by lifestyle choices
  • genetics – 5% are genetic, e.g. BRCA mutation

The number of cancer survivors is growing. By 2030, England will have over 3 million people living with or beyond cancer.

Post-surgery, physiotherapy can help recover maximum movement and function. Beyond any subsequent treatment, exercise can: help improve physical and psychological well-being; improve, function; manage the consequences of treatment; and reduce the risk of other diseases. To resume exercise, start little and often with regard to feeling unwell any discomfort or symptoms that may worry you. The Macmillan website has a Move More Guide.

Once you have moved from patent to survivor, Pilates offers:

  • gradual progression and return to normality
  • regain control of your movements
  • neutral rather than medical environment
  • focus on your whole body
  • regular routine
  • physical confidence
  • social group
  • long term support

Physically, Pilates can help build your muscle mass, improve your strength and endurance, increase your range of movement and energy levels.

If you have had breast cancer, I will ask you to complete a supplementary enrolment form, so I can better understand your treatment and any special considerations that might apply for the exercises that you should do.

Young at Heart

Improvements in public health, education and medicine mean that we are living much longer. By 2035, people aged over 65 living in the UK are expected to exceed 17 million. That will be almost one in four people.

As we age, can we still maintain good health and keep our independence? This is the aim of the Government’s ‘Ageing Society’ Grand Challenge.

One approach to achieving this goal is to encourage us to adopt healthier lifestyles – better diet, more exercise, keeping active in old age – to reduce our risk of disease. A second approach is to identify those who are at most risk of disease or have undiagnosed conditions and to intervene.

Thanks to studies of volunteers from the eastern region, we may be able to spend our extra years living independently and in good health.

Read more in this report from Cambridge University.

The Hamstrings

The hamstrings are tendons (strong bands of tissue) at the back of the thighs that attach the large thigh muscle to the bone. The term “hamstring” also refers to the group of three muscles that run along the back of your thigh, from your hip to just below your knee.

Hamstring muscles

The hamstring muscles aren’t used much while standing or walking, but they’re very active during activities that involve bending the knee, such as running, jumping and climbing.

A hamstring injury is a strain or tear to the tendons or large muscles at the back of the thigh. It’s a common injury in athletes. The recovery time depends on how severe the injury is. A strain may take a few days to heal, whereas it could take weeks or months to recover from a muscle tear.

Causes may be weak or tight hamstrings; muscle imbalance between hamstrings and quads; weak glutes; not warming up properly or increasing the intensity of your run too soon.

Regularly stretching and strengthening; warming up before exercise and stretching afterwards, may help reduce the risk of injuring your hamstrings.

In Pilates, we work to achieve an optimum balance of flexibility and strength within muscle groups and between agonist and antagonist (opposing) muscles such as quads (which straighten your legs) and hamstrings (which bend your legs).

However, note that different sports have different needs. If you are a dancer, you will need long hamstrings, but if you are a runner, long hamstrings may cause you to overwork your glutes.

So, although it might be a great ‘party rick’ it is not always appropriate for all of us to have an ambition to get our hands flat to the floor with our legs straight.

Survey Responses 2019

Thank you for completing the brief survey included with your annual renewal forms. I’ve collated your responses in this post. I’ve paraphrased your answers to keep them anonymous.

The average difficulty ratings that you gave for your classes were:

Monday 9.15am6.10
Monday 6pm7.60
Monday 7pm6.50
Monday 8pm4.75
Wednesday 6pm6.44

You said that the benefits you get from attending Pilates classes include:

  • Less aches and pains
  • Improved core strength
  • Feel more supple
  • Improved balance
  • Better posture
  • Stronger
  • Refreshed and relaxed
  • Keeps me mobile
  • Never have any back pain
  • Helps my whole body
  • Gives me pleasure
  • Eases my back pain

You said that your reasons for doing Pilates and what you want to achieve over the next 12 months are:

  • Greater strength
  • Increased flexibility
  • Better balance
  • General health
  • Control stress and anxiety
  • Enjoyment
  • Core stability
  • Toning
  • Better posture
  • Prevent back pain
  • Pelvic floor
  • Increase difficulty
  • Make progress
  • Keep fit and active
  • Better alignment
  • Lose weight
  • Increase body confidence
  • Less pain and stiffness
  • Flatter tummy

Injury Recovery

Sprains and strains are common injuries affecting the muscles and ligaments. Most can be treated at home. Start with RICE therapy for the first 48 hours:

Rest – Stop any exercise or activities and try not to put any weight on the injury.
Ice – Apply an ice pack (such as a bag of frozen peas in a tea towel) to the injury for up to 20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours.
Compression – Wrap a bandage around the injury to support it.
Elevate – Keep it raised on a pillow as much as possible.

While treating with RICE, avoid heat, alcohol and massages. Painkillers like paracetamol will ease the pain and ibuprofen will bring down swelling – but avoid the later for 48 hours after your injury as it may slow down healing.

As soon as it is not too painful, start moving the injured area so that the joint or muscle doesn’t become stiff. Too much rest can cause your muscles too shrink and scar tissue to form. However, be cautious, because doing too much strenuous exercise too soon could make your injury worse.

After two weeks, most sprains and strains will feel better. Continue to avoid strenuous exercise, such as running for up to 8 weeks, to avoid the risk of further damage. Severe sprains and strains can take months to get back to normal.

Seek medical help if the injury is not getting any better or is getting worse.

See the NHS website for more information.

Quote: Concentrate on the correct movement…

Here’s a quote from Joseph Pilates about the need to concentrate in order to perform the exercises correctly so as to benefit from them.

“Concentrate on the correct movement each time you exercise, lest you do them improperly and thus lose all the vital benefits. Correctly executed and mastered to the point of subconscious reaction, these exercises will reflect grace and balance in your routine activities.”