Tag Archives: pilates for bad backs

Pilates After Total Hip Replacement

Pilates After Total Hip Replacement

The are over 200,000 hip replacements a year with the majority being performed on people between the ages of 50-80. Hip replacements are recommended to relieve pain and decreased mobility in the hip often due to arthritis and other degenerative processes .

A total hip replacement involves replacing the femur head ( proximal end of the thigh bone) with a metal facsimile as well as replacing the part of the pelvis the makes up the hip socket known as the acetabulum. The surgery is either performed with incisions in the front ( anterior approach ) or the back ( posterior approach) of the hip. With a posterior approach it is necessary to cut through the muscle to access the hip joint which usually requires a longer recovery time. Because of this some surgeons recommend an anterior approach . When done this way there may be less trauma to the surrounding muscle tissue which is moved aside instead of cut and patients can therefore  get back to their daily activities sooner. After either surgery patients will embark on an intensive course of physical therapy with the goal of getting them up on their feet and walking unassisted as soon as possible.

Total Hip Replacement

One often overlooked issue in rehab is that any muscular imbalances that the client had before the surgery will most likely still exist. This could include muscular compensations that the person developed in response to their painful hip or could even be the dysfunctional patterning that created the wear and tear in the first place. The significance of this is that if the patient’s pain was partially due to muscular imbalance ( not just the pain from bone on bone contact in the joint) they may continue to feel hip pain long after the surgery has healed and may continue to until this imbalance is remedied . That is where an experienced Pilates instructor can be of great help.

A knowledgeable instructor will first assess the strength and flexibility of the joint. Then look for recruitment dysfunctions, identifying muscles that are dominating the movement at the hip and muscles that are under active as well. The retraining will begin with isometric holds which safely support the joint in a variety of positions and the core musculature that stabilizes the pelvis and lumber spine ( lower back) will need to be optimized . Then based on the initial assessment the instructor will create a strengthening program that takes the hip safely through all ranges of motion , while focusing on the clients individual needs. Special attention will be paid to exercises that protect the the joints of the body as a whole. And balance training will be incorporated to minimize falling and the possibility of future injury.

Pilates serves as an important and valuable adjunct to Physical Therapy and helps people return to life!


Mongoose Bodyworks is a boutique Pilates studio in soho NYC that focuses on delivering customized private sessions designed for your exact needs.

Halle is a 2nd generation master teacher having studied  closely with two of the great NYC protégés of Joseph Pilates: Kathy Grant and Romana Krysanowska. Halle opened Mongoose Bodyworks, a boutique Pilates Studio in New York City in 1999 .

As well as training in Pilates Halle has pursued studies in ideokensiology, anatomy , biomechanics, muscle energy technique, trigger point therapy ,neuromuscular re-patterning, Alexander technique, The Feldenkrais Method, Polartity therapy and Cranio-Sacral Therapy. She has additional certifications from the PMA-CPT and ACE. Halle integrates all of her extensive studies of the body into her work as a New York based Pilates Instructor and Teacher Trainer.

She has been conducting Pilates Teacher Trainings for Balanced Body since 2006 both in New York and around the country. Halle has taught Master Pilates classes nationally and internationally, including at The PMA Conference and Mind Body Expo.

Related Links:

Pilates and Physical Therapy

Back Pain Relief in Soho NYC

The Connection Between Low Back Pain and Weak Gluteals: Part 2

Low Back Pain and Weak Gluteals: Part 2  

Welcome to part II of a three part series about weakness in the gluteal muscles and the relationship to low back pain . In part I  I discussed what can mechanically happen in the body when the Gluteus Medius (a lateral gluteal muscle) presents weak. This blog outlines the imbalances that can occur when the Gluteus Maximus, the largest of the gluteal  muscles, is weak or inhibited due to tight hip flexors. 

Second picture shows what happens when the hamstrings predominant.

The Gluteus maximus ( GMax) is a powerful hip extensor responsible for getting you up out of a chair and propelling you through space when running or jumping . If your hip flexors ( the muscles in front of your hip- rectus femoris , iliopsoas, and anterior fibers of the adductors ) are short , perhaps from spending much of the day sitting ,  your Gmax can become inhibited and weak. In addition, to sufficiently extend the leg behind you with tight hip flexors the pelvis has to roll forward in an anterior rotation. This positioning causes the hamstrings ( the muscles down the back of your thigh) to predominate which in turn sends the femur into the anterior hip capsule.   Potentially causing anterior hip pain .

Sacrum during gait

When walking the two pelvic halves move in opposition. While one rolls anterior the other rolls posterior relatively. The sacrum , the bone at the end of the spine and between the two pelvic halves, rotates and side bends to accommodate the opposing movements of the pelvic halves  and the lumbar spine counter rotates to balance the system out. If one side of the pelvis is stuck in anterior rotation (as described above )the other  pelvic half may posterior rotate farther to try and create balance. This increased motion between the sacrum and the lumbar spine puts undue stress on the lumbar discs potentially creating injury and nerve compression .

Stretching the hip flexors is an important part to rebalancing but also needs to be accompanied with gluteus maximus re-training that teaches proper recruitment .  At Mongoose Bodyworks in NYC soho we teach clients to balance their low back and pelvic musculature to achieve and maintain a pain free body.

Contact us for an appointment today!

Mongoose Bodyworks

594 Broadway #904

New York, NY 10012

Info@mongoosebw.com

212 431 8377


Mongoose Bodyworks is a boutique Pilates studio in soho NYC that focuses on delivering private session designed for your exact needs.

Halle is a 2nd generation master teacher having studied  closely with two of the great NYC protégés of Joseph Pilates: Kathy Grant and Romana Krysanowska. Halle opened Mongoose Bodyworks, a boutique Pilates Studio in New York City in 1999 .

As well as training in Pilates Halle has pursued studies in ideokensiology, anatomy , biomechanics, muscle energy technique, trigger point therapy ,neuromuscular re-patterning, Alexander technique, The Feldenkrais Method, Polartity therapy and Cranio-Sacral Therapy. She has additional certifications from the PMA-CPT and ACE. Halle integrates all of her extensive studies of the body into her work as a New York Pilates Instructor and Teacher Trainer.

She has been conducting Pilates Teacher Trainings for Balanced Body since 2006 both in New York and around the country. Halle has taught Master Pilates classes nationally and internationally, including at The PMA Conference and Mind Body Expo.


Related Links:

Low Back Pain and Weak Gluteals Part 1

Pilates and Physical Therapy

Back Pain Relief in Soho NYC

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Top Pilates Instructors in NYC

Top Pilates Instructors in NYC

With so many Pilates Studios popping up how do you know which one is best for you? And how do you know which ones have the top Pilates instructors in NYC.
I have been the owner of Mongoose Bodyworks in Soho NYC for almost 20 years. A big part of my job is hiring Pilates instructors whom I think will be best at their job. First I pre-interview the instructor on the telephone . This initial conversation tells me a lot. Are they mature, confident professional? If that goes well we meet in person . I spend another half hour asking them about their background, goals and availability. It’s also an important time for them to ask me questions . My studio has to be a good fit for them as well. Now I am half way to determining if this teacher has the potential to be a top Pilates instructor.
The next step is by far the most important. I have them give me a lesson. I have done this for so long I usually know within the first ten minutes if they are right for Mongoose Bodyworks NYC.  I look for how they set up exercises, and if they cue movements clearly and with detail.  I ask myself do they touch in a way that informs or distracts , does the progression of exercises make sense and flow from one to the next, are they teaching a session tailored to what they see in me or going by rote?
The answers to these questions predict if they can work with a wide range of bodies all with individual needs. Many of our clientele are; recovering from injury, working to maintain pain free with scoliosis, pre or post natal or just have a unique body that requires unique attention. And whomever I hire needs to be able to adapt to this  vast array of human  variation. And if they can , I can almost guarantee they will soon develop into a  top Pilates Instructor.

Halle Clarke

2nd Generation Master Pilates Instructor

To experience some of the finest hand picked Pilates instructors in NYC  email us at info@mongoosebw.com or call 212 431 8377.

Mongoose Bodyworks 594 Broadway #904 ( between Houston and Prince in Soho) NYC 10012


Mongoose Bodyworks is a boutique Pilates studio in soho NYC that focuses on delivering customized private sessions designed for your exact needs.

Halle is a 2nd generation master teacher having studied  closely with two of the great NYC protégés of Joseph Pilates: Kathy Grant and Romana Krysanowska. Halle opened Mongoose Bodyworks, a boutique Pilates Studio in New York City in 1999 .

As well as training in Pilates Halle has pursued studies in ideokensiology, anatomy , biomechanics, muscle energy technique, trigger point therapy ,neuromuscular re-patterning, Alexander technique, The Feldenkrais Method, Polartity therapy and Cranio-Sacral Therapy. She has additional certifications from the PMA-CPT and ACE. Halle integrates all of her extensive studies of the body into her work as a New York based Pilates Instructor and Teacher Trainer.

She has been conducting Pilates Teacher Trainings for Balanced Body since 2006 both in New York and around the country. Halle has taught Master Pilates classes nationally and internationally, including at The PMA Conference and Mind Body Expo.

Low back pain and Pilates

Low back Pain and the Gluteals

Clinical studies have shown that a majority of low back pain can be traced to weak and inhibited gluteal muscles . There are three gluteal muscles that make up the side and back of the hip and pelvic region: gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus. The following blog describes how a dysfunctional gluteus medius can specifically contribute to low back pain.

The glute med is a lateral hip muscle that is responsible for keeping the pelvis level when standing on one leg. For example if you are standing on your right leg and have trouble keeping your left hip from dropping your right glute med is not doing it’s job. What the body often does to compensate for this is lean to the right , creating a side bend in the lumbar spine . Although in itself not an invalid motion but repeated over and over again during the gait cycle can cause a lot of problems. Side bending to the right compresses the facet joints on the right, forces the intervertebral discs to the left potentially impacting nerves as they exit the spine, puts a stretch strain through the left  iliolumbar ligament and facet joints and encourages the left quadratus lumborum (low back muscle) to work overtime. Any of these compensations could be a source of pain. And although massage and stretching may temporarily relieve the pain until the right glute med is strengthened, the back pain will return.

At Mongoose Bodyworks in NYC we use the Pilates Method seamlessly combined with contemporary bio-mechanical knowledge to undo muscles imbalances and keep you pain free. Contact us at info@mongoosebw.com or 212 431 8377 to make an appointment. See you at the studio !

Halle Clarke

594 Broadway ( between Houston and Prince)

New York City, New York 10012

Mongoose Bodyworks is a boutique Pilates studio in soho NYC that focuses on delivering customized private sessions designed for your exact needs.

Halle is a 2nd generation master teacher having studied  closely with two of the great NYC protégés of Joseph Pilates: Kathy Grant and Romana Krysanowska. Halle opened Mongoose Bodyworks, a boutique Pilates Studio in New York City in 1999 .

As well as training in Pilates Halle has pursued studies in ideokensiology, anatomy , biomechanics, muscle energy technique, trigger point therapy ,neuromuscular re-patterning, Alexander technique, The Feldenkrais Method, Polartity therapy and Cranio-Sacral Therapy. She has additional certifications from the PMA-CPT and ACE. Halle integrates all of her extensive studies of the body into her work as a New York based Pilates Instructor and Teacher Trainer.

She has been conducting Pilates Teacher Trainings for Balanced Body since 2006 both in New York and around the country. Halle has taught Master Pilates classes nationally and internationally, including at The PMA Conference and Mind Body Expo.

Strengthening the Gluteals 101

Strengthening the Gluteals 101

Keeping your gluteal muscles ( butt muscles) strong is an important element to creating healthy full body motions such as climbing stairs, getting out of a chair and most athletic activities. This short sequence will give you a great starting point to creating strong and limber gluteal muscles.

First you’ll want to stretch your quadriceps and hip flexors to ensure that shortness in these muscle groups aren’t inhibiting full access to your glutes.

PRONE QUAD HIP STRETCH
QUAD STRETCH PRONE

Lye prone. Press both hip bones onto the mat. Lightly draw the space under your belly button. Reach back and hold onto one foot or use a strap. This position should not hurt your knee. Instead you should feel a pull on the front of your thigh. Gently push your foot into your hand or strap and hold for 5 seconds. Then pull the foot toward your butt , feeling a reach through the thigh for a two full breath cycles. Repeat 5X. Do other side.

 

KNEELING HIP FLEXOR LUNGE

KNEELING HIP FLEXOR LUNGE

Do this exercise near a wall and use your hand closest to the wall for balance. Make sure to do this on a soft mat to protect your knees.

Come into the kneeling lunge as pictured. Level your hips as much as possible. Draw your pubic bone up to engage your abdominals and draw the back of the pelvis down. This creates a posterior pelvic tuck to maximize the stretch directly in front of the hip socket. To increase the stretch move your pelvis and spine as one unit forward toward your front leg. Your front knee will bend a bit further. Stay in the stretch for 5 seconds and then back out of it , do10 x. Then go into the stretch one last time and remain there for 5 full breath cycles. As you’re breathing visualize length up through your spine.

 

Now you are ready to strengthen your gluteals. This set focuses on targeting your Gluteus Maximus the largest and most powerful of the gluteal muscles.

PRONE STRAIGHT LEG LIFTS
PRONE STRAIGHT LEG LIFTS

Lye face down with your hands under your forehead. Gentle press your pubic bone into the mat and feel a gentle lift of the abdominals. With a straight knee lift one leg off of the mat while keeping the pelvis still. Imagine the front of your thigh sliding away from your ASIS, anterior hip bone. You should feel the gluteal muscle engage when the leg is only an inch or two off of the mat.

This exercise can also be done with a bent knee to more intensely target the glutes .

Do 10-30 reps

Note: If you feel this in your lower back you are either going too high, doing too many reps or engaging the muscles in your lumbar spine too early in the motion. Try sitting back into a child’s pose to relax and length this muscle group and then do the leg lift again.

NUETRAL PELVIC LIFTS
NUETRAL PELVIC LIFTS

Lye onto your back with your knees bent and heels in line with your sitbones. Press into the heels to prepare the posterior leg to engage. Keeping the pelvis level , like you have a cup of tea on your belly button, lift your hips up and hold for three breath cycles. Repeat 5-8 times.

MONKEY SQUATS
MONKEY SQUATS

Stand with your feet parallel. As you bend your knees pretend you are sitting down in a chair that is very far behind you, reach your sitbones for the chair. Counter balance your upper body by leaning forward and bringing your arms up , all with a flat back. This creates a hinge only at the hips , so the motion is occurring at the hip , knees and ankles and not the spine. Before coming back up actively press into the feet , feeling the whole foot on the floor.

Repeat 10-50 x

Always good to end a set of exercises with a stretch, as tight muscles often create dysfunction if they go unchecked for too long.

FIGURE FOUR STRETCH
FIGURE FOUR STRETCH

Lying on your back cross your right foot over the left knee. Pull your left knee into your chest and breath for 6 long breath cycles. Visualize the posterior muscles melting and widening. Repeat on the other side.

To learn more about healthy movement patterns, strengthening exercises and physical wellbeing contact Mongoose Bodyworks in Soho New York City.

Halle Clarke Owner and 2nd Generation Pilates Instructor

 

 

 

 

 

A Holistic Approach to Wellbeing

A holistic approach to wellbeing in NYC; Pilates and Naturopathy

It’s no surprise that Pilates is on the rise – with a focus on efficient movement and core awareness, there’s a lot to love about this mind body fitness program. At the same time, Naturopathic medicine – a holistic and natural approach to healing – has become a welcome health alternative for many.

While the two disciplines may seem worlds apart, they both value looking at the whole body, illness prevention, and educating their clients.

The Total You

 The most obvious connection between Pilates and naturopathy? A holistic approach.

While naturopathy differs from traditional medicine in numerous ways, one of the most powerful is its concern for the “whole” you. This means considering a range of factors including physical, mental, and environmental conditions of a patient.

Similarly, Pilates exercises consider the whole body. The body works best when it is experienced as an integrated whole and not compartmentalized into unrelated parts. A painful knee may be a misalignment in the back and a misaligned neck and cause problems lower down. Because of this whole body approach Pilates delivers a whole body experience and workout.

 

Prevention

 

Because Pilates focuses on moving with proper mechanics one is constantly learning and reinforcing efficient and safe ways of moving. These new patterns will carry over into other disciplines like sports, as well as help guide an aging body. This attention to alignment and moving well prevents injury down the road.

For Naturopathy patients, prevention is also critical. Whereas traditional medicine typically operates on a diagnose-treat basis, many Naturopathy professionals try to predict health issues and complications before they occur.

Wellness With Education

A final commonality between Pilates and naturopathy: proper education.

Both disciplines involve a personal client – teacher and patient-doctor relationship. Most of all, Pilates and naturopathy are built on the idea of ongoing education, improvement, and self-discovery. With the goal of empowering clients to take care of themselves as a lifestyle and prevent dis-ease in the future.

 

This means a qualified and knowledgeable guide is critical. If you are interested in exploring therapeutic Pilates and naturopathy in NYC , the experts at Mongoose Bodyworks and Dr. Maura can help. Mongoose Bodyworks Pilates is located in Soho NYC convenient to many subways. Dr Maura is located Chelsea, NYC. We look forward to meeting you!

Reformer Pilates in Soho NYC

The Pilates Reformer

Joseph Pilates on Reformer
Joseph Pilates on Reformer

The Pilates Reformer is the primary piece of equipment designed by Joseph Pilates. It is used in private sessions and small group settings alike.  Although the design has gone through some modern revisions the essence of the machine has remained the same. The reformer provides resistance for some 500 + Pilates exercises designed to coordinate and strengthen the body in a myriad of ways making it suitable for both beginner and advanced movers.

Pilates Reformer
Pilates Reformer

The reformer looks like a single bed frame that houses a sliding wheeled carriage. The carriage is tensioned by adjustable springs at one end and straps with handles on the other. The front end of the reformer has a foot bar with adjustable height settings that can be pushed by the hands or feet to move the carriage. This varied design provides for a vast number of positions in which to train the body. One can sit, stand, kneel, lie down front, side or back,  all while pulling the straps or pushing the bar.

Pilates Reformer Exercises

Pilates is more than an ingenious and versatile piece of exercise equipment. It is the philosophy behind the exercises and their relationship to the Reformer that make it truly unique. The movements, although strengthening, are not always used in direct resistance with the springs. In fact, sometimes the springs support the weight of the body and act as a teaching tool for proper mechanics. This allows one to learn how to lengthen, lift and open the body creating more ease and efficiency throughout the system at the same time building tone and endurance.  Counter intuitively, it is often the lighter spring tensions that are more challenging and strengthening as one aims to balance and control the movement.

man on reformer

One of the main Pilates principles is the idea that movement can be supported by the intrinsic muscles of the core.  When the core is coordinated with the rest of the body one moves with grace and efficiency, leaving less wear and tear on the joints and allowing a body to stay healthier and pain free longer. Core awareness can be the key to relieving back pain and many other neuromuscular issues.

Benefits of a Pilates Reformer Practice

The benefits of a Pilates practice on the reformer are an elongated spine, improved posture, increased strength and flexibility and an improved ability to participate in other physical activities such as sports, running and skiing, to name a few. What also makes Reformer Pilates so remarkable is that it works at all levels. The basic philosophies outlined above can be taught to anyone and at any level. Beginners thrive from learning the primary skills and there is still room to grow and accommodate even the most accomplished dancer or athlete.

women on reformer

Pilates Reformer at Mongoose Bodyworks Soho NYC

At Mongoose Bodyworks in Soho, NYC our sessions start with teaching the core principles on the mat and then reinforcing them on the Reformer. The majority of our NYC clients take private sessions but we do offer a few small group classes on the reformers for those that are interested. Although not required, we do recommend taking three privates before embarking on the group reformer classes. If you have any questions about the Pilates Reformer or our Soho NYC studio please contact us at info@mongoosebw.com.

Pilates and Scoliosis in Soho NYC

Pilates and Scoliosis in Soho NYC

Scoliosis is a medical condition involving sideways curvatures of the spine.  When looking at the spine from behind a scoliotic spine makes either an “S” or “C” shape instead of a straight vertical line. Scoliosis usually begins in adolescence but may also develop in adulthood. A diagnosis can be  confirmed by an X-ray that demonstrates lateral deviations of ten degrees or more. However, even smaller non-scoliotic curvatures  may be a source of physical discomfort.

scoli2

The cause of most scoliosis is unknown but it is thought to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors and can be related to neuromuscular conditions such as cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy. Structural Scoliosis refers to structural changes in the vertebrae that create a “fixed” curvature. Functional Scoliosis is essentially a severe muscular imbalance as the underlying spine is physically normal. Scoliosis is often a combination of the two.

The lateral curves that characterize scoliosis are accompanied by rotations in the sagittal and transverse planes, causing the spine to spiral and alter the transmission of forces from head to toe. These 3-dimensional rotations appear as one hip higher than the other, uneven shoulders and prominent ribs on one side. The physical imbalances can cause pain in the low back, ribcage and neck and well as nerve symptoms down one leg. Pilates can help relieve the physical pain and spasming that can result from scoliosis by unwinding  these 3 dimension spirals through elongation of the spine, centering the torso and creating more muscular balance throughout the body as a whole.

scoliosis-1-768x445

Pilates teaches exercises that create natural length in the spine through muscular engagement, so the spine can be “pulled” out of these spirals. The curves themselves also must be directly addressed as there is often muscular hypertrophy on the long side of the curve due to the body trying to right itself. Pilates teachers are trained to teach with the specificity that is necessary for correcting and managing the curvatures. Once the deviations are lessened then the core is strengthened  to help  “set” the changes.  A functional/muscular scoliosis will respond very successfully to a Pilates program. A  structural scoliosis cannot be undone but can be  to be managed very effectively with Pilates so that painful muscular compensations don’t get out of control.

At Mongoose Bodyworks we have helped clients with both structural and functional scoliosis with great success. We have brought our clients much  relief and improved well being. Please contact us with any questions you may have about your body.