AM Pilates Studio

Located in Las Vegas, NV USA 702-339-2809

Men, Pelvic Floors, and Squatting 101

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A variety of information is on-line about pelvic floor health for women.

But not so much for men.

Men have pelvic floors just as women do-and their pelvic floors are just as important as women’s.

Embarrassment aside, let’s explore proper conditioning of the male pelvic floor.

Why men need to work on pelvic floor health?

A healthy pelvic floor will help to prevent the following issues:

  • Incontinence
  • Low-Back Pain
  • Core Weakness
medically accurate illustration of the pelvic floor muscles

Medically accurate illustration of the male pelvic floor muscles.

The pelvic floor connects to the sacrum and coccyx -the bone at the base of our spine (see pic)

 

A properly conditioned pelvic floor will properly support the sacrum, which provides support for the pelvis and low back.

At the end of this post is a guide with detailed instructions on how to exercise the pelvic floor. Or click here for the pelvic floor exercise guide.

 

Just like any other muscle, the pelvic floor must also be stretched, in addition to strengthened.

Senior Hispanic couple with potted plants and dog outdoors

Senior Hispanic couple with potted plants and dog outdoors

How to stretch the pelvic floor:

The best way to stretch the pelvic floor is to sit in a squatting position, like this gentleman in the picture to the right.

 

How to get up from a squatting position:

It is not easy to get back up from a deep squat, which is why many people do not attempt the full squat.

That is what your gluteal muscles (butt muscles) are for.

Follow these steps to get out of a deep squat:

Step 1: Engage the core-abdominal muscles and inhale.

Step 2: Exhale-Pressing down into the feet, with weight into the heels, using the glutes, and stand up. It’s all about leg strength.

 

Watch this video showing how to safely get into and out of a deep squat:

 

Active Squatting to Build the Glutes

Fit senior man doing a squat

This is an active squat-where the gluteal muscles (butt muscles) and quads (front of the legs) are being used.

 

The gentleman to the left is doing an active squat, as an exercise, rather than the passive squat.

 

 

 

 

A Pelvic Floor Exercise Guide to Print

Click on the guide below to download and print for detailed instructions on how to exercise the pelvic floor.

Print a few or print a bunch and pass them on.

Every male needs to work their pelvic floor.

Click on the image of the guide below to download for saving or printing.

male-pelvic-floor-exercises

 


Thank you for taking the time to learn about pelvic health for men.

As some of my readers know, I specialize in pre and postnatal Pilates. But, I also have several male clients in my AM Pilates business. With all of my education on pelvic health for women, I began applying the same techniques with my men. My male clients feel stronger and more in-control when incorporating their pelvic floor.

If you are a fitness professional who works with men, incorporate pelvic floor exercises with them. Embarrassment aside.

Questions? Comments? Please leave them in the comment box. 

 

Sincerely,Headshot BW

Alison Marsh – Founder of AM Pilates & Posture and YourPregnantCore.com

 


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Got a Pain in the Neck? A Pooch? A Hunchback?

 Do these 7 easy steps to relieve

Neck and shoulder tightness and pain,

Improve your posture and

Strengthen your core with…

The Blooming Flower

Hands on the back of the head. Sit up tall.

Blooming Flower-Step 1
Place your hands on the back of the head. Sit up tall and gently bring your belly to your spine.


Blooming Flower -Step 2 Inhale - bringing your shoulders to your ears.

Blooming Flower -Step 2
Inhale – Gently press your head into your hands feeling your muscles activate in the back of the neck and surrounding the spine. Raise your shoulders to your ears. Continue to sit tall with belly to the spine through the steps.


Blooming Flower - Step 3 Exhale-Release hands from head and float arms down keeping shoulders open and elbows forward. You should feel your shoulder blades (scapula) against your back.

Blooming Flower – Step 3
Exhale-Keep your head lifted, feeling your muscles down your spine.       Release hands from head and float arms down keeping shoulders open and elbows forward.
You should feel your shoulder blades (scapula) against your back.


Blooming Flower - Step 4 Continue Exhaling and floating arms down until they are straight, keeping palms facing up.

Blooming Flower – Step 4
Continue Exhaling and floating arms down until they are straight, keeping palms facing up.


Step 4 Cont.

Step 4 Cont.


Blooming Flower-Step 5 Inhale-Place the back of your hands on your low back.

Blooming Flower-Step 5
Inhale-Place the back of your hands on your low back. Keep your head lifted.


Blooming Flower- Step 6 Exhale-Keeping back of hands on back of hips, gently press your elbows forward.  You should feel a stretch deep in your shoulders.  These are your rotator cuffs-small muscles that are often neglected.

Blooming Flower- Step 6
Exhale-Keeping back of hands on back of hips, gently press your elbows forward.
You should feel a stretch deep in your shoulders.
These are your rotator cuffs-small muscles that are often neglected.


Blooming Flower-Step 7 Drop your chin to your chest and breath slowly in and out. Allow your neck to stretch. Roll your head from side to side to increase the stretch in your upper trapezius muscle-the muscle that is the main culprit for neck and shoulder tightness.

Blooming Flower-Step 7
Drop your chin to your chest and breath slowly in and out. Allow your neck to stretch. Roll your head from side to side to increase the stretch in your upper trapezius muscle-the muscle that is the main culprit for neck and shoulder tightness.

Do this short, easy routine a few times a day

anytime, anywhere!

  • If you have any questions, please call or text me at 702-339-2809. I am happy to speak with you about your unique, amazing body and how you can most efficiently use this awesome creation!

Sincerely,

Alison Marsh


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Tame the Pain of Tendinitis

Adapted from NIH News in Health http://newsinhealth.nih.gov

IMG_7275

4,000

That is the number of tendons you have in your amazingly created body!

Tendons make it possible for us to move-bend down to pick up our kid, reach up to praise God, shake a hand of someone new, turn our head to a familiar voice.

Okay, less sappy: Tendons make it possible to turn a door knob, throw a basket ball at Chucky Cheese (featured pic), fold laundry, etc, etc.

After years and years and years of repeating these life movements, our tendons may develop Tendonitis, an inflammation of these tendons.

The following are ways to help prevent tendonitis:
IMG_7274

Two more tips:

1. Tighten your core Before and During ANY movement

2. Breath!

Go be awesome and tame those tendons!

Contact Alison at

Pilatesandposture@gmail.com


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Stretch it OUt!

I never struggled with injury problems because of my preparation –
in particular my stretching.
– Edwin Moses – Olympic Gold Medalist-Track and Field

During my days at Follies, where I performed as an acro-dancer (a dancer who does gymnastics in the show) I was one of only a few dancers on stage 30 min before show time running around the stage to warm-up. After about 5 min. of running I would plop on the floor and begin my stretching warm-up.

Folies Bergere: The Can-Can Dress

Folies Bergere: The Can-Can Dress

Unlike most of the dancers in the show, I am not naturally limber. I have always had to work at getting my splits and back-bends, and properly prepare my body for what it was about to endure: jumping, running, leaping, tumbling, with sharp directional changes, mostly in heals, except for the tumbling number: The Can-Can, which required us to wear a ten pound dress (see pic).

Everybody is different

So why are some people more flexible than others? There are several factors when it comes to how flexible someone is.

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Life-style (how active a person is) certainly affect how flexible a person is.
  • Some people genetically have more limber joints.
  • People who tend to live care-free lives tend to be more limber due to decreased muscle tension.

Being too limber can cause issues. If the joints and ligaments are too loose, they fail to properly support the body.

For example, during pregnancy, hormones flood the body preparing for the growing fetus and the birth. Therefore, pregnant woman are more prone to strains and sprains.  (Click Here for more on Pilates during pregnancy)

I have had clients who come to me with flexible joints, but tight muscles. With these clients we work towards stabilizing the joints through muscle control and proper stretching which I discuss below.

Why Stretch?

Stretching is the best thing you can do for your body (in addition to other healthy lifestyle choices such as cardiovascular training, proper diet, and healthy relationships.) Experts say, if you don’t do anything else, just stretch! It is the most natural movement the body engages in.

Let’s think about an animal; cat or dog, maybe. Whats one of the first things they do after a sleep session? They reach their front legs out in front of them and reach their tails behind them, lengthening their spines, preparing to move! Humans also instinctively do this when they reach their arms up to the sky after a long nights sleep.

We are constantly using our muscles for activities of daily living (ADLs).

  • Walking requires the use of the core, upper and lower limbs.
  • Driving requires the use of the upper body, legs and feet.
  • Dressing and Grooming requires coordination, balance, and use of the upper limbs
  • Parents with babies and/or toddlers endure the constant increase of weight of the baby.
  • Yard work, laundry, dishes

This list could go on and on. Consider also your profession. What specific movements (or non-movements) are you engaging in? All of this constant repetitive motion with no relief puts the body at serious risk for pain and injury.

Here a just a few of the many Benefits of Stretching:

  • Increased Energy-Stretching increases blood flow to the muscles, helping us to feel alert
  • Reduced pain-many sources of pain come from tight muscles
  • Improved Posture-tight muscles restrict the spine
  • Prevent Injury-stretched muscles bounce back – think of wet clay vs. hard clay
  • Reduce Stress-Stretching relaxes the muscles and the mind!
  • Slim Down-Stretching lengthens muscle tissue, resulting in lean muscle
  • Overall Positive Sense of Well-Being – We were created to MOVE People!!

How to stretch?

Here are some tips to stretch safely and effectively:

1. Always warm up the body before stretching. 5-10 min of cardio to warm the muscles will suffice. Click here for cardio ideas.

2. Breath Through Stretches 20-30 seconds

How to Breath:

1. Inhale through the nose, filling the lungs by focusing the breath into the back like your filling a balloon (your diaphragm)

  • Back of the ribs should expand
  • Allow the chest to rise,
  • The front of the ribs should drop down by keeping the belly softly back
  • (This is Pilates breathing-allowing for continuous engagement of the abs.)

2. Exhale through the mouth, deflating the lungs of the air like deflating a balloon

  • Back of the ribs should close in
  • Belly sinks back further

3. Engage Abdominals (Belly to the Spine) primarily before and during movement from one position to the other. Remain aware of Belly to the Spine throughout stretches and exercises.

4. Think of your muscles like rubber bands. To achieve the most efficient stretch you have to achieve oppositional pull; pulling each end of the muscle you are stretching away from each other.

5. Relax into your stretch. If the stretch is too painful, you will clench up, defeating the purpose of stretching.

There are several ways to stretch.

Here is one of my favorite stretches for the chest, hips, and back-Twist Stretch!

Twist Stretch-Step 1-Bring Knee to Chest

Twist Stretch-Step 1-Bring Knee to Chest

Twist Stretch -Step 2-Knee across the body, hip up. Opposite shoulder on floor (is the goal)

Twist Stretch -Step 2-Knee across the body, hip up. Opposite shoulder on floor (is the goal)

Below is a picture of me stretching over a big ball-an amazing all over stretch. (Bend Knees to modify)

Stretchin' it OUt!

Stretchin’ it OUt on the big ball.

Click Here for a great stretch to target those tight shoulders that plague almost all of us!

These are just a few of the many feel good stretches you can do to wake up the body and increase flexibility.

Click here for my Basic Stretching and Strengthening Routine.

You can contact me at pilatesandposture@gmail.com with questions.

Happy Stretching!

Alison Marsh

Resources:

Ramsay, Craig Anatomy of Stretching: A Guide to Increasing your Flexibility


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Cardio Happy: 5 Ways without Hitting the Gym

How Much Cardio Do We Really Need?

The American Heart Association Recommends the following

Trampoline Cardio Fun

Trampoline Cardio Fun

For Overall Cardiovascular Health:

At least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least 5 days per week for a total of 150 minutes

OR
At least 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least 3 days per week for a total of 75 minutes; or a combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity

AND
Moderate- to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity at least 2 days per week for additional health benefits.

For Lowering Blood Pressure and Cholesterol
An average 40 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic activity 3 or 4 times per week

Who Has Time for That??

But what if you really can’t find that solid 30 minutes a day? Or just don’t want to?

  • According to the AHA, 10-15 minute increments are just as beneficial as 30 straight minutes.
  • But don’t disregard activities that take less then 10 minutes. Something is better then nothing!

Why Should We??

In my last post, I touched on the release of the feel good chemicals during cardio, and it’s ability to decrease depressive symptoms. Below are a few more of the benefits we receive. Click here to see a full list of cardiovascular exercise health and wellness benefits from the American Heart Association.

  • Increased Energy
  • Sound Sleep
  • Reduced Stress
  • Curbed Appetite
  • Better Self-Image
  • Increased Physical Strength
  • Creates Healthy Habits for Life

What To Do? 5 Ideas

Below is a list of activities that will get your heart pumping without taking time from your already busy schedule.
In my last post I gave you one idea: Park Far from the Entrance (safety permitting)!

Here are 5 more ideas:

1.Take the stairs – and use your legs.

  • Make sure your whole foot is on the step and put your weight primarily on the heel.
  • This gets your legs working most efficiently and is a great glute (booty) toner and strengthener.

2. Clean your own house – I work up a serious sweat when I vacuum, sweep and mop! And I am using my core muscles as I move.

3. Play with the kids – When I go to the park with my son, I bring a book with the intent of letting him play while I get some reading done. That never happens, at least not for long. He gets me up and moving,

  • climbing, chasing, sliding; and the added benefit is the nurturing of our relationship.
Me and the fam at Flipin' Out Trampoline park. Pic taken on the floor of the bounce house.

Me and the fam at Flipin’ Out Trampoline park. Pic taken on the floor of the bounce house.

At home we will

  • get on the floor and wrestle (just as I am writing this, my son walks in and asks if I want to fight with him. Time for my afternoon session of cardio!)

Too hot for the park?

  • The new indoor trampoline parks are super fun and a major workout!!

4. Take a Walk on your Lunch Break– If it’s too hot outside, like it is in Vegas right now,

  • go to the nearest mall,
  • or if your building is big enough, take a tour, and take the stairs!!

5. Have a Dance Party 

  • In your living room with or without kids, put on some music and dance, dance, dance! You will probably feel silly at first, but it may be so much fun you’ll wonder why you never danced in your living room before!
  • At the office?? During your 10-15 minute breaks, turn up the music and get out of your chair! It is sure to put a positive spin to your day. (Ask the boss first.)
My husband walking the dogs; his happy cardio.

My husband walking the dogs; his happy cardio.

Tips When Cardioing (Not really a word, but thought it to be fitting)

Thank You again for taking the time to read this blog! I hope it is helpful! You can contact me at alisonbmarsh07@gmail.com!

Happy Cardioing!!

Alison B. Marsh

Resources

The American Heart Association www.heart.org


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Skinny Girls Need Cardio Too

Skinny Minnie

I am a thin girl. As a teen I had many insecurities about being thin, only because I was approached daily with the comment “You are SO skinny!” in a disapproving tone. I believe (now) that God gifted me with the ability to exercise a little, eat fairly healthy without denying my sweet-tooth, and still have a thin, somewhat muscular bod. It’s great for business!

Contemporary dance solo at CSN

This pic gives you an idea of my body type. (from a contemporary dance solo at CSN)

I have always been active, though, dancing from the age of 3 and teaching Pilates for over a decade. Therefor, my core is strong and I know how to use my body in an efficient manner. For example, as I sit here writing this post, I am:

  • sitting up straight (I imagine a string pulling from the top of my head,)
  • dropping my shoulder blades down (engaging my lat muscles) (or think ‘armpits to the hips’),
  • gently pulling my belly back,
  • and remembering to breath

Sure, I have slouching moments. Because I have been trained to sit and stand properly from the time I could walk, slouching becomes uncomfortable if I stay for long periods of time.

The Grass Isn’t Always Greener…

I also have clinical depression. The kind that can’t be explained by circumstances. The kind that can show up when everything should be awesome.

I was diagnosed at the age of 34. I had debilitating anxiety as a teen and in my 20’s. Anxiety is know to turn into depression. [2] My psychiatrist put me on 2 medications, but also asked if I was exercising.

I am a Pilates instructor. Taking one look at my body (I say this with humility) and knowing that I teach Pilates, you are not alone if you think I work out all of the time.

But I was not working out.

The catch-22 of depression is that even though exercise has been shown to release the same feel good chemicals that medications synthetically create (nuerotransmitters and endorphins) [1], the depressed person doesn’t feel like getting up to even get dressed let alone move their body enough to release these feel good chemicals.

If you have never experienced clinical depression, it is not easy to understand. My best description is that it feels like moving through molasses. Brushing your hair is even a chore. It’s not the type of thing you can just snap out of. It is a bizzar disease.

On the Other Side

After about a month of taking my medication, in addition to taking 2,000 mg of Omega Fish Oil and a multivitamin with a high B vitamin content, I had enough energy to get my body moving again.

I started with walking in the morning. Between my kids needing fresh air (my kids are adopted, by the way) and my dog’s needing a walk, it became a routine. We would walk in the morning when the sun is in it’s most awesome position of the day. With the combination of

  • movement,
  • getting my heart pumping (cardio),
  • taking care of other living beings (purpose),
  • sunlight (which has been proven to increase energy levels),
  • and God (spirituality),

my depression began to lift and I began to feel like a real person again. I began to feel happiness and enjoy the company of people, feelings that were foreign to me.

Along with the above reasons for the initial lift in my depression, I also had the support of my husband, mom and dad in addition to counseling (faith based), and freeing myself from toxic people in my life. I also ate a more nutritious diet, started sleeping better (with the help of melatonin), and began working out with my clients.

I am 37 now. My depression is under control. I have seasons of melancholy and seasons of high functioning. What the antidepressants seem to do is keep me from falling deep into debilitating depression again, allowing my list of other supports to work.

I notice that those seasons of melancholy show up when I stop getting my cardio. I am currently in the process of getting back into a walking routine, but being on the verge of a hot Vegas summer, walking outdoors is difficult to stick with. I swam the other day. That is an amazing workout! Today I glided on my Gazelle at my studio. Swimming wins between the two.

 Cardio Happy

Cardiovascular activity is CRUCIAL whether you are depressed, happy, skinny, overweight, male or female. In my next post I will give you a list of ways to incorporate cardio into your daily routine.

Here’s 1: Park far away from the entrance of where ever you are going (always thought it was funny when people would wait for the closest parking spot, in the gym parking lot!!), unless it is a safety concern.

As a side note to parking lots, always be aware of your surroundings in the parking lot, keeping your head high (not on your phone). This will also help you keep proper posture!

Thank You so much for taking the time to get to know me! I look forward to many more posts that I hope will be inspiring and helpful! Feel free to email me at alisonbmarsh07@gmail.com with questions, or comment on this post.

Happy cardio hunting!

Headshot May 13

Me, Alison B. Marsh

Alison Marsh, owner of AM Pilates & Posture

For more information on depression and anxiety, go to www.adaa.org

For more information on cardiovascular health, go to www.world-heart-federation.org

Resources:

1. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/depression-and-exercise/art-20046495

2. http://www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/depression


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THE Resolution of 2014

THE Resolution of 2014

Positive Self Talk

Positive Self Talk vs. Fat Talk or putting one’s self down

An Epidemic:

The Problem:

Negative thoughts and words that are demeaning to you end up being self-fulfillig. If you think or say your fat, ugly, dumb, etc. these constant messages transform your brain to follow through. Relationships, career, and overall well-being are negatively affected.

On the other hand, if you think and say positive things to yourself (whether you believe them or not), you transform your brain to fulfill what you are thinking and saying. You stand taller and exude confidence, giving you the energy to engage in relationships and activities that bring you joy.

This year, make it simple! Resolve to banish negative self talk and thoughts (about others as well!)

Then all the other resolutions fall in place!!

My New Years Resolution for 2014

1. To think and say only Positive things to myself, to others, and about others!