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Keep Moving Everyday!

“Those who think they have no time for exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.” ~Edward Stanley

A New Year - A New You

Welcome back all current clients and new clients to our Pilates term.

Pilates based exercises aim to work and improve the strength of the core muscles, improve stabilisation of the lower back and the pelvis, improve muscle and spinal flexibility, improve posture as well as relief stress and back pain. The focus of the exercises is on core stability, neutral alignment and breathing. The overall goal or result is a balanced and aligned body that looks fit, feels revitalized and moves with ease.

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Mastering The Cat Stretch

The cat stretch exercise is part of the warm-up in the Pilates class. It is a good exercise to improve spinal articulation and to stretch the muscles in the back.

The start position for the cat stretch is as follows:

  • On all fours
  • Hands directly under shoulders
  • Knees directly under hips
  • Knees hip distance apart
  • Shoulders relaxed away from the ears
  • Lower back in a neutral position, i.e. neither flexed nor extended
  • Head an extension of the spine, looking directly down at the mat
  • Equal and even weight between all 4’s.


The first position is the “angry” cat position. In this position the back is fully rounded or flexed and tummy muscles tucked in and drawn away from the floor. The head is relaxed and looking down at the knees. Tailbone or pelvis tucked under.

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Pilates Breathing - Perfecting your Technique

In Pilates, the breathing plays an important part for all of the exercises. 

  1. It helps to relax the muscles and avoid any unnecessary muscular tension
  2. It also encourages focus and concentration on each exercise
  3. Proper breathing also helps to enhance stability during the exercises

Here are some important and valuable points to remember about breathing techniques for your Pilates practice:

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The Plank

Planks are used a lot for building core strength. It is quite a commonly used exercise in team sports and gym classes. The plank is quite an advanced exercise and requires good core strength as well as good stability around the shoulders and scapula in order to be performed correctly. In Pilates the plank is referred to as the Leg Pull Front.

Points to note about the plank exercise:

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Teen Pilates - New Class

Welcome back to all of the Pilates clients and to the new clients as well.

Teen Pilates:

Next week we are commencing our Teen Pilates class. We are running two classes - one on the Thursday and the other on the Tuesday evening at 4.30pm. There is still space in the Tuesday class if anyone has a daughter/son who is interested.

The aims of the class are as follows:

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Pilates Reflection 27th July 2015

Question of the week:

What are the best exercises to trim up my waist to do at home?

In Pilates the majority of the exercises are targeted to the core muscles. However, some of the exercises are particularly effective at toning and trimming up the waist. Please see below for a 10 minute programme to follow. If you have any issues with your lower back, please consult with your Instructor first in order to ensure these exercises are appropriate for your condition.

For the beginners do the exercises slowly concentrating on your breathing and in particular the exhale focus on drawing in the tummy muscles. Keep the feet on the floor for the ab prep and the obliques exercise.

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Pilates Reflection 25th June 2015

Question of the week:

what exercises can I do to help overcome stiffness and tightness in my back?

There are lots of great exercises to do in order to improve flexibility in the spine from Pilates. The warm-up exercises are great for getting the spine moving and improve blood flow to the muscles in the spine. The warm-up in Pilates consists of the following exercises:

  1. Breathing
  2. Imprint
  3. Leg Slides
  4. Spinal Rotation
  5. Cat Stretch
  6. Bridge
  7. Shoulder work
  8. Head nods

The best exercises to do to release tension in the back are the imprint, spinal rotation, cat stretch and bridge. In class we normally do the movement part of the exercise in coordination with the breathing. A nice tip at home is to hold the stretch for longer i.e. when doing the cat stretch hold the stretch position which is looking down at the legs with the back rounded and taking a few deep breaths in.

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Pilates Reflection 25th of May 2015

Question of the week:

Why do we do the clam exercise?

The clam exercise can be a bit repetitive but it is very beneficial. The clam exercise is used in class in order to strengthen the gluteal muscles in particular the gluteus medius muscle. This muscle is one of the bum or gluteal muscles. This muscle plays an important part in stabilising the pelvis when walking or climbing stairs, which prevents the pelvis from dropping or dipping. Gluteus medius dysfunction can cause pain in the sacroiliac joint region or in the lumbar spine or lower back.

A quick note on the clam:

You should feel the muscles in your bum region work when you are doing the exercise. You should feel no discomfort in the lower back when doing this exercise.

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Pilates Reflection 15th May 2015

Question of the week:

Does it matter what way I bend my elbows when doing push ups?

The push up exercise is great for building strength in the shoulders and arms providing there is no acute or sub acute injuries to the shoulder. When doing the push up exercise if you bend the elbows in by the sides you will target more the Triceps muscle which is the muscle at the back of the arm. If you bend the elbows outwards so away from the body you will target more the deltoid muscle which is the muscle around your shoulder.

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Pilates Reflection 27 April 2015

Bringing Mindfulness into Pilates

Nowadays with the hussle and bussle of everyday life it can be difficult to get some headspace or gather thoughts. Mindfulness is a great way to unwind. It can be defined as maintaining a moment by moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and surrounding environment. So we allow the thoughts and feelings to come and go into our mind without passing judgement or paying too much attention to them. Similar to watching waves break on a beach - noticing the waves breaking and coming and going. The same way thoughts and feelings come and go.

In Pilates when doing the exercises you can pay attention to how your body is moving and how it feels when it moves.

Breathing:

When doing the Pilates breathing to feel and notice the way the rib cage moves when taking deep breaths. Then noticing your normal breathing - is it shallow? Is it in your tummy? Do you breathe in or out through the mouth or nose?

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PhysioPilates ~ healthy moving since 2011
Mount Merrion Physiotherapy
105 Trees Rd, Mount Merrion, Co Dublin. Tel. 01 283 4303