New Year-New You!

New Year, new you!  Sounds good doesn’t it? For many of us, including us at Pilates Plus the new year represents the changing of times.  You have made that conscious decision that 2016 is your year for getting fit, active and healthy!

This is how it usually starts for me…..

Day 1 Feeling all geared up and enthusiastic about the healthy prospects ahead and my new leaner physique, going for it in the gym!

Day 2 Raging headache from the sugar and caffeine withdrawal

Day 3 Entire body soreness “DOMS” from that first day in the gym and totally over doing it

Day 4 I want to give up! But please don’t help is at hand….

How can we help you make this “new year new you” an easier transition?

Preventing injury is certainly not the first thing you think of when you are just about to start a new exercise regime – nobody wants to think they are going to get injured and more often than not, for those embarking on a new routine stretching or muscle release work takes a backseat and it is more about pounding the pavements for miles on end!


It is important with any new exercise routine you consider what your body is initially capable of.  Pilates integrated into your training programme can compliment any type of exercise/sport. Pilates works you very hard but it is low intensity and the exercises are tailored to suit you as the individual.

Pilates specifically focuses on range of movement, flexibility, stretching and release work. These components are exactly what we need to incorporate into our fitness regime to prevent injury and build a strong stable base to work from.  See below for more information on stretching and foam roller release.

Personalised Pilates


Benefits of Stretching:

Although studies looking into the effects of stretching have fairly mixed results many believe the benefits of stretching outweigh the negatives, the benefits include:


  • Increased joint range of motion
  • Increased flexibility
  • Enhanced performance results in certain activities
  • Reduction in injury risk
  • Increased blood flow to muscles





How to stretch safely and effectively:

To make sure you will have the maximal benefits, firstly you want to make sure you are stretching safely – stretching incorrectly may actually cause more harm than good.

Tips for stretching:

  • Warm-up prior to stretching approx. 10mins or until muscles are warm (e.g. low intensity jog/bike)
  • Focus on yourself not others, everyone has genetically different flexibility levels, therefore focus on having equal flexibility on each side rather than being as bendy as a gymnast!
  • Work major muscle groups e.g. calves, thighs, hips, neck, shoulders (examples shown below)
  • Make your stretches sport specific – focus on muscle groups that you are most likely to use throughout your sport/workout
  • Try not to bounce but hold the stretch instead – approximately 30-60sec
  • Do not push into pain – you should feel as though you are experiencing tension and stretch but not pain.
  • Do not stretch prior to intense activity, there is evidence to suggest it reduces performance
  • Make your stretching a regular part of your routine, otherwise you loose the benefits you may have gained e.g. 2-3x/week
  • Progress your stretching into dynamic stretching (stretching with movement) as we do in Pilates.

Stretch Programme:

Hamstring Stretch:


Lying on your back, gently bring one leg up into the air, hold behind the calf or thigh and feel the stretch as you bring the leg towards you.  Hold for 30-60 sec repeat on both sides.







Hip Flexor Stretch:

PilatesPlus2013IMG_9534Bring one knee forwards and one knee back, gently tuck the pelvis under and you should feel a mild stretch in the front of the back thigh. To intensify the stretch gently lean forwards into the front knee. Hold for 30-60 sec, repeat both sides.







Upper/Lower Back Extension Stretch:

PilatesPlus2013IMG_9343Bring your elbows underneath your shoulders and keep the elbows tucked in. Draw your shoulder blades back and down and gently push yourself up to a propped position on your elbows. Hold 30-60sec. Please do not push too far or into pain with this exercise.






Benefits of Foam Roller Release:

Foam roller work is not a new idea and certainly if you have been to one of our classes you will have been subjected to effective work a foam roller can do!  Essentially the foam roller is used to mimic the effects of soft tissue release work by rolling specific muscle groups along the hard surface of the roller.

The foam roller can be used on multiple muscles of the body and you are actively releasing the muscles by using your own body weight.  It compliments therapeutic treatment and alongside a stretch programme self releasing may help prevent injury, the main benefits being:

  • Lengthening of short/tight muscle groups
  • Improving blood circulation to the skin, muscle and fascia
  • Deeper than a stretch
  • Releases muscles that are difficult to stretch e.g. hip flexors and Iliotibial bands
  • Improves muscular imbalances and reduces the risk of injury

In addition to muscle lengthening the foam roller can also help with spinal mobilisation, postural stability and balance and core strengthening.  If you wish any further advice or a programme for stretching or foam release work please come and see us in clinic ( 0131 226 5009)

Final Thought and Tips from your Physiotherapist:

If you are embarking on a new sport/activity here are a few top tips for injury prevention and ideas to keep you going!

  • Build up slowly and follow a sensible training programme
  • Stretch and Release post activity
  • Take a recovery/rest day once/week
  • Practice Pilates at least once/week
  • Don’t let niggles and pain stop you – get them checked out early
  • Set achievable training goals but by all means push yourself
  • Choose an activity you will enjoy – otherwise you will give up!
  • Buddy up with someone to keep your motivation levels high

Finally and most of all have fun and enjoy! Good luck!