Following on from my last blog… This is Week 5 of my 6 week Pilates challenge!
So from the beginning of this experience to today, I have tried to build my perfect workout. I try to incorporate the things I love doing as well as the things that correct imbalances in my body.
I generally start with the foam roller, using it to release the upper back, the ITB and hip flexors. Then I will lie down on the foam roller and start some pelvic floor and transverse abdominis activation exercises, followed by some simple scapular control work. This works well on the foam roller as your back is in a relaxed position enabling the recruitment of those deeper abdominal stabilisers.
After the foam roller release I go straight into hip flexor stretching. After years of running and not stretching (!!!) my hip flexors have tightened significantly, and because of that I struggle to recruit my lower abdominals and glutes. Over the weeks I have found that I have to work harder to get a stretch in them, meaning my stretches are getting more creative and tortuous. Straight after stretching I try and get some good gluteal activation, and to do this you cannot beat side lying glutes. And they still hurt every time.
From there we move onto thoracic mobility and scapular control. This would have to be my favourite part of the workout. There are some many lovely ways to mobilise your thoracic spine from simple bridges to roll overs on the foam roller. Keeping this area moving has helped reduce my headaches but I will always follow it up with scapular control and mid back strengthening. Chariot pulls are a classic exercise to do this, as it allows you to think about full body posture as you complete the movement. I also like side lying arms on the reformer as using the spring resistance in this position allows for good feedback for scapular control.
The final strength and control exercise I do is for the lower abdominals. This will vary depending on how tight my hip flexors are feeling that day. I will either work with legs in straps or on the foam roller again. Taking the weight of the legs away from the body or centre of gravity is a tough work on your abdominals, so it is essential that it is done slowly and with control. Somedays I feel like my legs barely go anywhere, and others I feel like they are as light as feathers, so I make my main focus control through the back and minimising any doming through the stomach.