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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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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

 

 

 

 

 

Pilates and Physical Therapy

Pilates And Physical Therapy: A Two-Part Approach

 Pilates and physical therapy. Two separate disciplines with different objectives, right?

 

In truth, Pilates and physical therapy (PT) have much in common – including a history rooted in building strength and maintaining mobility. Although the approaches may differ based on skill sets; pain free function and individual attention are two of many common threads that link the two disciplines.

Pain Free Function :The most important connection between Pilates and PT

For physical therapists, the approach to pain begins with pathology: searching for the structural drivers, both neuromuscular and articular, of a patient’s pain. PTs can then use techniques like manual therapy, strength training and movement re-patterning to help eliminate pain. Somewhat surprisingly, the practice of Pilates was also born out of a desire to help individuals recover from painful injuries. In fact, Joseph Pilates’ first innovation was attaching springs to hospital beds to help bedridden patients build strength. Still today Pilates maintains a place in the physical rehabilitative community for addressing pain.

Both modalities look to improve alignment, joint articulation and mobility, movement control and fluidity as means to becoming pain free. Because of this major overlap in objectives Pilates acts as an ideal transition out of PT and back into movement and sports.

 Individual Attention : Another link between Pilates and physical therapy? They’re built on the idea of a close relationship.

A physical therapist is a licensed medical professional. They diagnose and treat injuries – with the goal of eliminating pain. Of course, this calls for an open and intimate relationship with their patient.

Likewise, Pilates instructors are frequently tasked with developing new movement strategies and approaches based on observing their client’s unique movement patterns which also requires a very individual and personal relationship with their client.

A Path Towards Better Health?

When practiced together, Pilates and physical therapy can truly be the cornerstone of an overall recovery and health plan. With a shared focus on eliminating pain and restoring function through personal attention, the two modalities are not just complimentary but collaborative. When both practitioners are working in collaboration they can more effectively re-educate patients away from movement compensations that may cause a return of pain and dysfunction. We have found at Thrive PT and Mongoose Bodyworks Pilates that an open dialogue between PT and Pilates instructor has guaranteed the success of our patients and clients.

 Recover And Rebuild With Experts

 If you are interested in exploring Pilates or physical therapy in NYC soho, you need guidance from comprehensively trained professionals. Mongoose Bodyworks Pilates and Thrive Physical Therapy can help you recover and rebuild, even in the wake of an injury. With open atmospheres, and highly qualified staff, there are few better places to begin your recovery or fitness journey. You’ll be able to build strength, increase flexibility, and enjoy a more mobile life.

To get started with a consultation, contact Thrive Physical Therapy and Mongoose Bodyworks Pilates , New York, Soho.

 

 

Pilates and Acupuncture

A Match: The Powerful Connections Between Pilates and Acupuncture

 In recent years, holistic approaches to health have all seen a surge in popularity – and with good reason. More than just placebo effect, practices like acupuncture promise to have a measurable impact.

Simultaneously, Pilates has seen a resurgence in popularity – bolstered by its focus on core strength and balance.

These two different disciplines– Pilates and acupuncture—have much in common. From similar effects on the body to a concentration on mental cohesion, Pilates and acupuncture offer a world of tangible benefits, especially when practiced simultaneously.

Same Systems?

 So, now that we understand that Pilates and acupuncture have similar effects on the body, it’s important we understand why.

Acupuncture works by targeting “meridians” or the points that surround various muscle and organ groups. The needles of acupuncture serve to stimulate naturally bodily responses in these points and the tissues that surround them.

Pilates works in a similar fashion – with a focus on bodily movement. A typical Pilates regimen features movements designed to engage and rebalance the “myofascial meridians”. When these fascial and muscle chains are working in coordination the body can work as an integrated whole – a collaboration of many systems.

Real Relief

 So, what really happens when you combine Pilates and acupuncture? According to new research published by The Mayo Clinic, acupuncture was found to dramatically relieve back pain and improve overall mobility.

With the addition of Pilates, the overall impact of acupuncture is only increased. Given that the overarching goal of Pilates is to improve core balance and function, the two practices can truly work in tandem – building a healthier and more balanced you.

Mindfulness

 No mention of any physical activity or natural health treatment is complete without noting mental and emotional benefits. Interestingly, both acupuncture and Pilates directly focus on your body’s natural energies – albeit in slightly different ways.

 Indeed, Pilates instructors and professional acupuncturists share a recognition of the psychological and cognitive reach of both disciplines. According to acupuncture experts at Integrative Healing Arts, the “stress response” of acupuncture helps “us to experience whole body balance – aligning ourselves on physical, energetic, emotional, and spiritual levels.” When adding Pilates and Acupuncture one can imprint the positive changes happening in their acupuncture sessions into conscious changes in how their body feels and moves.

 

Similarly, the Pilates staff at Mongoose Bodyworks note that their discipline is most concerned with “improving one’s kinesthetic awareness” and that acupuncture specifically relaxes the nervous system and increases blood flow which in turn improves kinesthetic awareness making it a “wonderful co-treatment with Pilates…especially for movement re-education.”

The message? Acupuncture and Pilates just go together.

 

 

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.