Stuart McGill, a professor at the University of Waterloo, has influenced my approach as a physical therapist and the exercises that I give to my Pilates clients to best address their needs.
It seems like the word “core” is ubiquitous, tossed around like grass seed. Who hasn’t heard the admonition that you need a strong core!  There’s certainly an endless array of exercises out there that target the core, some causing more harm than good. In my last blog post, “Ditch the Crunch”, we examined the negative effects of sit-ups and crunches and explored an interesting alternative.
Today we’ll examine a great starting point for improving core stability. In light of scientific evidence, the safest approach to improving your core and enhancing spine stability is through exercise that emphasizes endurance over strength.
The following exercises known as the McGill Big 3, emphasize neutral spine posture with abdominal co-contraction and core bracing to create stiffness and promote endurance. Think of it as creating your own internal corset of support. These 3 research-based exercises are an excellent starting point for anyone who wants to approach their core work with safety and proven efficacy.  If you are de-conditioned, experience back pain or just want to avoid back pain, these exercises are for you!  Watch the video at the bottom of this post to see the exercises in action.
The Stuart McGill Big 3 exercises are:
  • Curl Up

  • Side Bridge

  • Bird Dog
I would insert that the side bridge demonstrated in the video below can be difficult if your shoulder girdle isn’t strong and stable. If that’s the case, just de-weight your hips slightly if able, and over time with repetition, you’ll get stronger and will be able to lift your hips higher off the ground.
You’ll see me in the video below cueing to hold the position for 6-8 seconds. This timing targets endurance. Typically endurance is built first with repeated sets of relatively short holds-no longer than 7-8 sec’s. This is based on recent evidence indicating rapid loss of available oxygen in torso muscles contracting at these levels. Short relaxation of the muscles requires oxygen. The endurance goals are achieved by building up reps rather than increasing the time/duration of each hold. (McGill et al., 2000)
Important note: you should not experience pain with any of the above exercises. Watch for spine deviation or loss of neutral. Maintain excellent technique.
In a future blog, I’ll address the spine, hip and leg stretches that best accompany these core stabilization exercises.
References:
McGill, S.M. 2007,  Low Back Disorders: Evidence-Based Prevention and Rehabilitation, 2nd edition 12: 213-235
McGill, S.M. et al (2000), Lumbar erector spine oxygenation during prolonged contractions: Implications for prolonged work. Ergonomics, 43: 486-493
McGill, S.M. (2006) Ultimate back fitness and performance,  Backfitpro Inc. (www.backfitpro.com)

 

STREAMING OPTION!   BoneSmart Pilates® Exercise to Prevent and Reverse Osteoporosis is now easily available internationally in a Streaming Option! People have been asking for this throughout the globe — so I am excited to partner with Vimeo to offer this  streaming link.

What this means for you!

1.  If you live outside of the United States:  Before this option was available, you would have had to purchase the DVD for $29.99 (US Dollars) and then pay international shipping to have it delivered to you. Now you pay the same price, and you can watch thru any device on the internet (phone, tablet or computer), as many times as you wish!
2.  If you’re traveling outside of the United States: You don’t have to take a DVD player (or a device that has a DVD player) with you on your trip!  You can watch thru any device on the internet (phone, tablet or computer) by purchasing a subscription through this link, and watch whenever you have access to the internet!
3.   If you already have a BoneSmart Pilates DVD – you may want to purchase a subscription – so you have easy access when traveling in the United States!

This DVD, created by a physical therapist, addresses exercise that targets common areas of decline as we age. It moves a a faster pace than its precursor, “BoneSmart Pilates®: Exercise to Prevent or Reverse Osteoporosis”. It is a perfect gift for yourself or someone you know that wants to age with strength and grace. Though challenging, it is safe for those with special conditions as well as osteopenia or osteoporosis. Bonus Posture Segment demonstrates how to achieve ideal sitting posture with ease.

Are there times when you’re following along with one of my DVD’s and you aren’t sure you’re doing the exercise correctly?  Or perhaps you aren’t “feeling” the exercise as much as you want to?  Skype Sessions are the answer!  I’ve been teaching them to students who live outside of my region and want a little extra support. It’s a great solution. If you’d like to schedule a Skype Session, just email me!

Teresa Maldonado Marchok, physical therapist and certified Pilates instructor, shares BoneSmart Pilates® Healthy Supported Sitting Tips when you want to sit at the back of a chair.

 

 

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Click to Enlarge

No matter your stage in life, keeping fit is essential to doing the things you love with ease, power and grace. In this class, you’ll increase body awareness and learn healthy functional movement strategies grounded in science. Expect improved posture, injury prevention, coordination, core strength, flexibility and balance with crossover benefits to your daily sports and activities. This class is appropriate for beginner to advanced intermediate levels. If you have low bone density, weight bearing exercises are incorporated and safe mat variations will be offered. 

View Video Preview of class Here

Please bring your own mat.  Various small props are used to enhance your movement experience. Also bring a resistance band and 9 inch inflatable ball if you have them. Balls are offered free of charge to new participants. Low allergy/low latex 5 ft resistance bands are available for purchase in class for $10. Free video links will be made available for participants to encourage consistency of practice. The instructor, Teresa Maldonado Marchok, is a licensed physical therapist, certified Pilates instructor, former professional dancer and ambassador for American Bone Health. She believes exercise should be challenging yet fun so bring a flexible mind, open heart and be prepared to laugh!  For more information email  teresa@pilateswithteresa.com.


To foster a safe, cohesive and consistent environment, drop in sessions are not permitted, however a trial class at no initial cost  
for newcomers is allowed if the class is not full already.

This is a common question I hear. With so much focus on sitting and electronics, kids’ posture and their bodies, are paying a heavy toll.  I call it “iposture” and it’s ubiquitous. The good news is the majority of Pilates matwork is beneficial for and adaptable to kids.

My daughter Katelyn recently presented a school research project about the benefits of Pilates.  See her demonstrating the mat exercise “Rolling Like a Ball” which targets core strength, spine flexibility, control, precision, breath and flow.

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Watch Katelyn demonstrate “Rolling like a ball”

The chart below is a nice way to explain Pilates to kids. (courtesy of the PMA)

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Falling can happen to anyone.    I fell on some icy steps in 2015, and shared this video, so you could see how I worked out 1 week after surgery, with one arm that basically didn’t move!

            Click here or on the photo to see what Teresa can and can’t do 1 week post surgery.
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Teresa fell HARD on icy steps in NY. Though her bones are healthy and remained intact, she sustained a full rupture of a rotator cuff tendon, one of the key players that stabilizes the arm bone in its socket.

So you know that she “walks her talk”, this video clip gives you a sneak peek into what she can and can’t do 1 wk after rotator cuff surgical repair.   Even with her shoulder out of commission, the versatility of Pilates allows her to stay strong and agile providing healing circulation and feel good endorphin release to all parts of her body.   She’ll also let you in on the little she can do with her arm out of her sling.

Can you guess her secret to maintaining sanity in the middle of her sleepless nights?  Watch the end to find out!

See what Teresa can and can’t do one week after surgery

 

 

With 55 people in attendance and a long wait list, Teresa shared her key secrets to Aging Strong and included plenty of science, practical demonstrations from volunteers in the audience and a rousing dance that got everybody up and moving. “It was both helpful and fun, I brought 5 friends and they all raved about it!”  ~Katy D. “Your presentation was great-like Live Dr. Radio!”  ~Mercy F. “I am shocked how slumped I was sitting & immediately am sitting straighter” ~Elayne M. See a Sneak Peak of Aging Strong in Action IMG_1860