Charles Stringfellow, 87, Santa Fe, NMWhen I started Pilates with you about 9 months ago, I was still recovering from the very serious fall that I had in June 2014. It, resulted in a broken right shoulder, broken left wrist and broken left kneecap. The right shoulder required a complete replacement and a much longer recovery period.This is a report on what I can do today, that I could not do, when I started the Pilates exercise with you:1. I can shift gears and exercise control of the steering wheel with the right arm when driving much better.2. I am eating more with my right hand rather than left hand since the fall, but not 100% yet.3. When dressing, I can tuck my shirt into my pants over the right hip with my right hand. and can use both hands to turn my shirt collar down and tie a tie.4. My walking gait is significantly improved.5. I can place a handkerchief in my right rear pocket now which is great milestone.6. I can lift my right arm higher in a controlled manner and lift more weight with the right arm to place an object on a shelf or hang a coat or shirt on a bar above my head.Thank you for all the special effort you have made to get me back to the point where I can accomplish most use of my limbs in daily living, small things in many cases that we don’t realize how important they are until we lost the ability for some reason.
I have always been an active person. Lots of exercise, gym workouts, spinning and most of all riding my horse. About a year ago I had a riding accident and spent eight months in physical therapy. The good news – I recovered, however, I was going down the slippery slope with my overall body strength. I was afraid to use the gym equipment or go to any type of group exercise class, knowing I had particular issues and was afraid of doing more harm than good. Then one day a friend introduced to me Chantall – the best thing that could have happened to me! After one session I signed up to work with her three times a week and will do this forever! Chantall and Pilates are synonymous and her dedication to her clients is beyond explanation. She is an amazing person; a more dedicated Pilates instructor would be hard to find. She has an impressive, in-depth knowledge of the body and understanding of what each exercise is meant to do and consequently, she is able to tailor the practice to everyone’s special needs. The other amazing thing – the majority of her clients, myself included – are senior citizens – active, but still seniors. She is passionate about working with this age group and keeping us fit, strong and active into our golden years. Because of Chantall, I am aging backwards! Not only does she move me on a deep, personal level, but she literally keeps me moving!
-Jeannie B. Santa Fe, NM
In February (2013), I once again had the opportunity to study with Irene Dowd. She is such a legend in the world of anatomy and movement and I always jump on every opportunity to learn from her. This was a 3 hr. workshop on the neck, giving us simple, yet effective strategies for everyone (with and without equipment) to be done throughout the day, sitting at your desk to create ease in your neck and shoulders.
How we socially interact with our face, the way we listen (does one ear hear better than the other? If so you are more likely to present that ear and move your neck and head off-center) how we look, taste and chew is influenced by the way we move our necks.
Learning by doing:
First we located the cervical vertebrae, palpating them and looking at their movement possibilities. We teamed up and observed our partners range of motion in a “yes” and “no” motion. The atlanto-occipital joint = yes, has about 15-20 degrees of flexion and extension combined. The atlanto-axial joint =no has about 35-40 degrees of rotation on each side. Combining flexion/ extension and rotation is a whole different ballgame. We observed the lack of symmetry and imbalances in ourselves and were prompted to write down our scores to compare them, after we did the mini-movement sequences Irene has developed. What a surprise, all of us had either evened out imbalances or increased range of motion.
The muscles of the neck work synergistically with our eyes. You can test this by putting your hands at the back of your neck, right underneath the skull at either side of your cervical spine with slight pressure. Look straight ahead and then to the left, without moving your head and then to the right. It is very subtle, but you can feel the muscles activating and preparing to move your head. You might have to try this a couple of times before you first feel it. This means, where your eyes go during exercise, your neck wants to rotate your head to. So be aware where you look when you rotate your spine. If your eyes stay straight, your brain is not able to tell your body to move and the range of motion you experience in your rotation is much smaller or might feel constricted.The same goes for flexion (Ab-curl, “crunch”) look at the ceiling first and start the movement with your eyes, wandering across the ceiling to the wall in front of you, to your knees (they may be in the tabletop position or feet on the floor) and experience an easier, possibly increased flexion in your thoracic spine and more ease (or work in the front neck, which is desired in cervical flexion) in performing the 100’s.
Did you know
that we have more muscles in the back of the neck than in the front? The posterior (in the back) muscles support our head as we reach our faces forward (palpate by putting your hands on the neck and move your head forward). Too much reaching forward (by listening, looking, eating, talking) will fatigue those muscles and one might even feel pain. Also, our brain being in the back of our skull is much heavier than the front of our face, needs to be balanced out.
The muscles on the side and in the front are less numerous and are very important for balancing our head. They are usually underdeveloped, especially sitting at a desk all day doing computer work (I can feel my posterior muscles screaming at me already). Tilting your head backwards gives ease to the posterior muscles and allows them to relax for a while.
Another blog post with exercises will follow
Pushing the head forward resisting gently with your hand pressing against your forehead will activate the anterior neck muscles and put them to work.
Let’s leave it here for now, although there are many more interesting facts, if you have any questions about the micro-movement series, release techniques and strengthening exercises, contact me! Just remember less is more when it comes to awakening muscles that are not quite working as they should, listen to your body, if it feels wrong, don’t do it and be aware of your range of motion. The way you sit and carry your head throughout the day is so important, how you talk, chew and look at your iPad (reading with it sitting on your laps for a long period of time might possibly be less desirable after you read this post).
Irene’s workshop schedule can be found here:http://www.nohopilates.com/workshops.htm
” The older we get the more we have to work.” Thats something one of my teachers said, and I’ll never forget it. She referred the the human body and the demand we put on it. Another saying that comes to my mind is “if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it”. Aging is something that’s going to happen even if we fight it, there’s no way around. One of the key signs for a healthy and young body is it’s ability to move well. Doing whatever you want and being able to do so without aches and pains.
What do you still want to do?
Playing tennis, golf, soccer, biking, climbing… walking, playing with the grand children, getting out of the chair without help, getting out of bed…? The list of demands we have can vary from day to day or decade to decade.
Working here in Santa Fe with a clientele that is up to 30 years older than my Brooklyn clients definitely challenges me on many different levels. Arthritis, Osteoporosis, Hip- and Knee replacements (no biggie). Just walking can sometimes be a challenge and it’s not the previous mentioned conditions that make us immobile but should we fall and break a bone can definitely throw a curve ball. I remember my late grandmother being in excellent condition up to the day when she had an unfortunate fall and being bed ridden for many weeks deteriorated her body (and mind) tremendously.
Here is how it’s done:
1. do something every day (walking is a great start)
2. challenge your balance
3. Do Pilates!
4. Do Pilates regularly. If you’re over 60 twice a week for 60min is the minimum if you want to see some results.
5. Start working your body early, don’t wait until you feel the signs of aging limiting your way of life.
And here are some great results:
81 years young and doing the Longstretch like a 18 year old. Bravo!
What would you like to do, and is your body supporting that desire?