Diamond Down

Pilates Exercise Tips for Strong and Healthy Shoulders

  • Have you ever injured your arms and shoulders?

  • Do carry stress and tension in your neck, upper back?

  • Do you ever notice your shoulders hiked up around your ears?


    It’s not surprising that so many people these days experience one, or all of these shoulder issues.  To maintain our erect human posture we have two options – good core support, or overuse of our arms and shoulders to try and hold us up!

Think of it this way…  You are either like a coat on a hook (shoulders up), or a circus tent with a tall pole up the center and the edges sloping down (core support & shoulders down).  Being like a coat on a hook means lots of neck and shoulder tension.  You might experience more headaches, or be prone to shoulder injuries and rotator cuff problems.  The good news, things can change quickly with the right body awareness, exercises, and improving your posture.

So the first important tip for strong healthy shoulders is to strengthen your core.

  •  The stronger your abs and back are to help keep you sitting and standing with tall posture (like a circus tent) the more your shoulders can relax.

  • But just relaxing your shoulders may not be enough.  Some active work to pull them down away from your ears may be necessary.  One of my favorite cues for strengthening the lower trapezius muscles (the muscles that help to pull the shoulders down) is “Diamond Down.”

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The Trapezius

muscle is a broad diamond shaped muscle that has fibers running in three different directions. The upper fibers elevate the shoulders. Middle fibers assist in pulling the shoulder blades together, and the lower fibers draw the shoulder blades down.

Generally speaking, the weakest and most important action for shoulder support and stability is the downward action of the Trapezius, thus my cue of “Diamond Down” when preparing to do any exercise that involves using the shoulders and arms.

Benefits of Strengthening the Lower Trapezius Muscle with “Diamond Down”

  • It places the shoulder joint in a more optimal place for movement of the shoulder and arm during exercise.  Better movement improves strength and flexibility and reduces risk of injury.

  • It provides the counter-leverage  necessary to lengthen and open joint space for the upper thoracic spine, neck and head, which means improved posture and upper spine mobility.

Tips for Practicing “Diamond Down”

  1. Start Standing with good posture and core support.  The upper spine should be slightly curved in its natural position so that the shoulder blades can lay flat on the back.  Just let the arms hang by your sides.

  2. Inhale breathing into the back to lift the ribcage and lengthen the spine, Exhale and from the bottom tips of the shoulder blades and draw the “Diamond Down” gently pulling the shoulder blades down towards the back of your waist.

  3. Repeat this three times,  lifting the spine higher, and deepening the “Diamond Down” contraction. Then release.  Repeat your “Diamond Down” exercise 3-5 times as a warm-up exercise before any other Pilates or gym exercises.  Or do it as a stand-alone exercise a couple of times throughout your day to remind you to keep your shoulders away from your ears!

What to Watch For

  • Be sure as the shoulder blades only pull down, that they don’t pinch together, but stay flat on the ribcage.

  • Watch your posture, allow the blades to move, and keep the rest of the body still.

  • Make sure the lower abdominals are lifting for core support and remain lifted while you draw your “Diamond” down.

Get More Core

Good Pilates exercise techniques makes a healthy body.  If you have a weak core, chances are your shoulders like to be hiked up around your ears.  With a strong center it’s much easier to improve shoulder mechanics, reduce joint pain, and maximize your Pilates workouts.  Doing the right exercises to strengthen your abdominals and back, along with practicing your “Diamond” down shoulder blade cue and you’ll be off to a great start for developing strong and healthy arms and shoulders with any and all of the exercises you do.

 

 © MMVIII-MMXIII, Aliesa George and Centerworks©. Used by Permission. Originally posted on Centerworks.com.

 

Source: http://www.centerworks.com/pilates-exercis...

Energy Healing Bodyworks

Treat your mind and body with the regenerative balancing powers of this energy healing therapeutic massage by our certified Massage Therapist,

Phillip Hwang

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Originally from Taiwan, Phillip grew up in a holistic environment that used natural healing as a means of staying healthy. His mother played a main part in keeping the family well though acupressure and traditional Chinese medicine.

As part of his discipline in the martial arts, the master he studied under taught his students the importance of healing oneself through meditation, self-care, and massage. His integration of both Eastern and Western modalities, along with a practiced knowledge of the human anatomy, allows Phillip to perform therapeutic massage for all aspects of healing and helps clients maximize their results and recovery time.

Practicing these holistic healing arts helped Phillip develop into the healer he is today.

Treat your mind and body today and book an appointment call Phillip at: (626) 705.4226

  • 60 minutes $100

  • 90 minutes $140

  • 120 minutes $180

THURSDAY MOVEMENT 360 CLASS

Thursdays at noon with Charletha

Charletha utilizes small props, (i.e., small balls and 18” dowel sticks) for closed chain movements. This class is a combination of Pilates mat work and stretching, as well as an emphasis on joint articulation, fascia release and standing balance.

The goal is to increase overall core strength, achieve better functional range of motion in joint structures, and maintain overall body movement and balance awareness.

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This is a great class

for anyone, especially older adults who wish to remain fit and maintain a full range of motion.


SIGN UP FOR CLASS AT: pilatesofpasadena.com/book-classes $25.00


“ I see so many of us lose our balance as we age, any way to continue to improve our balance will ultimately prevent injuries caused from falling “ — Maria

Find diet-friendly munchies

While there are lots of good-for-you and your family foods out there, some key ingredients make it a lot easier to keep your weight or meet your weight-loss goals.

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Next grocery store run,

be sure to load these 3 diet-friendly items in your cart:

1 - balsamic vinegar (it adds a pop of low-cal flavor to veggies and salads)

2 - in-shell nuts (their protein and fiber keep you satiated)

3 - fat-free plain yogurt (a creamy, comforting source of protein)

Eat Berries for Breakfast

Berries are an incredible food, rich in nutrients for our brain, our digestion, and they’re disease-preventative.

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Photo by_ alex-block-597468-unsplash.jpg

They’re also a fresh source of produce and keep us fuller than processed cereals with dried fruits. Add 1/2 cup of your choice frozen or fresh berries to either a smoothie, oatmeal, or just have some with some unsweetened coconut yogurt and a little chia or flax seeds.

Berries are also a great source of vitamin C to kickstart your immune system.

Say Hello to H2O

When you're heading off to pilates, yoga, or any other exercise class, it's always important to hydrate so you can stay energized and have your best workout.

Photo by  rawpixel  on  Unsplash

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Electrolyte-loaded athletic drinks can be a source of unnecessary calories, so drinking water is usually best until you're exercising for more than one hour.

At that point, feel free to go for regular Gatorade-type drinks which can give you a beneficial replenishment boost.

Do you have a favorite athletic drink..share with us in our comment section below.

Too much Holiday Sweets

Feeling guilty about the sweets or food you enjoyed at your Holiday celebrations?

Most people decide to cut back on eating to trim back down.

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Don't beat yourself up! It takes a lot of calories—3,500—to gain a pound of body fat. So really, that holiday eating doesn't usually result in any significant weight gain.

It's about what you do the next day and the day after that's really important —so get back and stay on-track with your workouts. So be sure to whittle away at those extra calories over the next day or two, preferably by boosting exercise rather than eating too little. Starvation is not the healthy answer!

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Workout Booster

DRINK UP

Photo by  rawpixel  on  Unsplash

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

 Pointers that will help you get what you need in terms of hydration.

 1.  About 1 hour before working out, drink 8 ounces of water to help ensure you’re starting off hydrated.

2.  Add a low-calorie electrolyte tablet to your water pre-workout and drink during the workout. This will help you maintain adequate hydration and replace what you loose through swear.

3.  Remember to rehydrate post-workout. Aim for 6-8 ounces.  

Share you hydration tips in our comments section below.

Benefits of practice

The practice of Pilates may date back all the way to the early 1900’s, but the benefits of its practice are far from outdated.

 

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Regularly practicing

Pilates builds core strength, increases flexibility and improves muscular balance and endurance.

Consistency is key for seeing results from Pilates, so add a class or two to your schedule this week! You’ll soon start feeling a much more strong and balanced core, which will only enhance your performance in other areas as well.

We look forward to seeing you at P/oP!

 Intro Offer: 3 private, 55-minute introductory sessions: $180

This set of 3 classes is an introduction to the art of Pilates and is open to first-time clients. Build core strength and learn the beginning moves you'll need to master this timeless exercise. Inquire on instructor availability.

Join Samantha every Monday evening at 6pm & 7pm & Wednesday at 6pm for a group reformer class. Text (213) 222-6199 to reserve a spot. 

Join Toni every Wednesday evening at 7:00pm for a group reformer class. Text (707) 416-6162 to reserve a spot. Email to rsvp.

Join Amelia every Thursday evenings at 6pm & 7pm for a group reformer class. Text (203) 627-6687 to reserve a spot .

Wisdom Wednesday

"If your spine is inflexibly stiff at 30, you are old. IF it is completely flexible at 60, you are young."

~ Joseph Pilates

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Join Amelia for a Chair Class on Saturday mornings at 10:30am. Text (203) 627-6687 to reserve a spot . Chair Class: $25

Join Dorothy Sunday morning at 9:30 am for a group Sculpt, Tone and Balance class with props.  Text 626-818-0241 or Email to reserve a spot.

Sculpt, Tone and Balance Class: $20

Photo by Joyce McCown on Unsplash

Simple Steps to Better Sleep

The secret to refreshing sleep is to wake up naturally after a sustained period of REM. There is wisdom in the old saying that ‘one hour’s sleep before midnight is worth two after.’

We spend about a third of our lives in sleep.  Sleep is important on so many levels.

As Leonardo da Vinci said, “…a well-spent day brings happy sleep.”

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If only we could sleep like a baby

and get some solid restful sleep.

Short-term insomnia, which is the commonest type of insomnia afflicts as many as one in three people, can be caused by a stressful life event, a poor sleeping environment, and an irregular routine.

 Try these 7 simple steps to better sleep:

1. Set up a strict routine involving regular and adequate sleeping times.

2. Devise a relaxing bedtime routine that helps you to wind down before bedtime.

3. Eat a wholesome evening meal with a good balance of protein and complex carbohydrates.

4. Enjoy a hot, non-caffeinated drink such as herbal tea or hot chocolate before going to sleep. In time, your hot drink could serve as a sleeping cue.

5. Sleep in a familiar, dark, and quiet room that is adequately ventilated and neither too hot nor too cold.

6. Exercise regularly. Exercise reduces arousal and anxiety and also helps with other aspects of psychological and physical health.

7. Reduce your overall stress. At the same time, try to do something fulfilling each day.

Don't make the common, almost universal mistake of underestimating sleep. Time spent in sleep is time well spent; almost everyone could do with better, more restorative sleep.

 Sleep is the best meditation. —Dalai Lama

Boost methylation

Methylation is your body's biochemical superhighway that helps protect your DNA, brain, and gut from inflammation.

It is important to support healthy methylation pathways to lower homocysteine, an inflammatory amino acid.

A great way to help with this is by eating sulfur-rich vegetables such as cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and broccoli.

For more information go to: https://www.mindbodygreen.com

Photos by Keenan Loo,  Lauren Lester and  Reinaldo Kevin on Unsplash

Tuesday Tip

True Self-Care

Photo by  John Westrock  on  Unsplash

True self-care is so much more than an occasional bubble bath, manicure, or massage. While all of these things are fantastic, they are self-care lite.

Nicole Griffin says, "True self-care, in my mind, is not an appointment, but a way of life. When done right, it is a manifestation of self-respect and is deeply woven into the way we show up in the world.”

In Nicole’s blog, she challenges us to think creatively and beyond the every day routine.

True self-care is living your best life Get the shiny nails if that makes you happy, but also do the real work. What makes you feel most alive? Who brings out the best in you and mirrors your fullest potential? Who doesn’t (bye)? What things make you lose track of time? What types of play did you love as a child? Who inspires you and why? What are you good at?

What are you waiting for? To learn more go to http://nicolegriffinwellness.com

Nicole is a yoga teacher and holistic health coach in the DC area. She believes that health and self-care should be a priority and that experiences are more valuable than possessions.

Her adventures in life have been defined by a love of learning, an insatiable curiosity, and a willingness to explore the world and say yes to new experiences.

Source: http://nicolegriffinwellness.com/service/b...

Get a Better Waistline...Add Obliques to Your Workout

The obliques aid in compressing the abdomen and in forward-bending. They are also the hard workers that help us in side-bending and twisting our torso.

The big reason to include oblique work in your workouts is to make sure you have tone and good function in any muscle group—you want the full benefits that muscle group has to offer.

In this case, it's the side bending and twisting ability along with abdominal compression and forward bending. Many of us want to make extra sure we get our oblique workouts in because toned obliques make for a nice waistline. 

Keep in mind that the obliques work in concert with your other abdominal muscles and really all the muscles of your Pilates powerhouse—abs, back, hips, pelvic floor.

It is not recommended to focus just on obliques, but rather obliques in the context of a full-body workout. We want form and function along with a waistline.

Making bending and twisting exercises effective and safe to get that oblique workout. One example is the Pilates Mermaid Side Stretch Exercise below.

   
  
    
  
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  Pin it - Ben Goldstein

Pin it - Ben Goldstein

One of the best ways to get your oblique workouts is in a balanced Pilates workout which will always feature twisting and bending exercises.

To get a better waistline, contact one of our experienced instructors today they can craft a balanced workout for you in studio and for your at home practice.

The studio is open 7 days a week from 6am to 9pm or

contact us at info@pilatesofpasadena.com