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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DIY (Do It Yourself) Stretching and Strengthening Routine!

AM Pilates & Posture:
Basic Stretching and Strengthening Routine

*For your safety, please check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program.

 Tips For getting the most from your routine:

1. Warm Up 5-10 minutes before this stretching routine.

  •  Brisk Walk or Jog (treadmill or neighborhood)
  •  Jumping jacks, march in place
  •  Jog up and down the stairs
  •  Stationary Bike
  •  Dance! (This is probably the quickest way to warm up because your moving your whole body and keeping it guessing)
  •  A Warm Shower will also suffice IF you don’t have another option.

 2. Breath Through Stretches 20-30 seconds

 How to Breath:

A. 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.)

B. 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. Use an oppositional pull through the stretch. Like a rubber band needs to be pulled in opposite directions to stretch, our muscles get the most stretch when we use opposition. Ex: In the Hamstring stretch, pull your leg toward your chest as you reach your hip to the ground.

5. Relax into the stretch. Stretch far enough that you can feel it, but not to the point of pain! These stretches should feel good. If you can’t relax into the stretch, you are going too far!

1. Lower Body Stretches Laying on your Back (Supine) on a Mat or Hard surface

1.1 Knee to Chest

1.1 Knee to Chest

7 Stretches

1.1- Knee to Chest

· Stretches Hips, Glutes (butt muscles), and Lower back preparing body for lower body stretches
· Start both knees bent, feet flat on floor

Steps:

1) Engage Abdominals and bring one knee to the chest with your hands
2) Slowly lengthen (straighten) opposite leg along floor as you pull knee in closer
3) Repeat with other leg
4) Engaging Abdominals, slowly bring both knees into your chest and hug the knees. You can come into a contraction bringing the head and shoulders up to open the spine.

1.2- Twist Stretch

1.2 Twist Stretch

1.2 Twist Stretch

· Stretches low back and sides of the low back, Hips, Chest

· Start with both knees bent, feet flat on the floor.

Steps:
1) Engage Abdominals and bring one knee to the chest with your hands

2) Slowly lengthen (straighten) opposite leg along floor
3) Take opposite hand of knee that is up and gently pull knee across the body.
4) Engage Abdominals to return and repeat on the other side

*The following 3 stretches are to be done with a Resistance Band or belt around the foot

1.3 Hamstrings

1.3 Hamstrings Step 1

1.3 Hamstrings Step 3 Parallel

1.3 Hamstrings Step 2

1.3 Hamstrings Step 2 45 degrees

1.3 Hamstrings Step 3

1.3 Hamstrings Step 1 Midline

· Stretches back of legs (4 muscles)
· Opposite leg bent or straight (try both)
· Do both Active (moving) and static (still) stretching

Steps:
1) Midline (towards middle of body)
2) 45 ° (Out)
3) Leg Parallel (straight towards you)

1.4- Adductors
· Stretches inner thighs (3 muscles)
· Opposite Leg Bent or Straight (try both) remembering to reach down (rubber band) with the opposite hip

1.4 Adductors

1.4 Adductors

Steps:
1) Leg out to side of body as far as you can go to feel the stretch

2) Engage Abdominals (belly to the spine) before moving leg to next stretch

1.5- IT Band

1.5 IT Band

1.5 IT Band

· Stretches Glutes (3 butt muscles) and IT (Iliotibial) tract or band on the outside of the thigh. May also feel back of knee or hamstrings during this stretch
· Opposite leg straight

Steps:
1) Leg across the body, allowing foot to turn in (sickle)
2) Reach hip of the leg being stretched in the opposite direction (rubber band). Hip should be off of the floor.

1.6 Piriformis Step 2

1.6 Piriformis Step 2

1.6 Glute Step 3

1.6 Glute Step 3

1.6- Piriformis and Glutes (no resistance band)
· Stretches your buttocks
· Opposite leg bent, starting with foot on floor
· Piriformis – one of six rotators in the hip and the only one connected to the pelvis; is commonly one culprit to back pain and/or tightness

Steps:
1) Fold leg over opposite thigh placing ankle over thigh allowing knee to open.
2) Gently Press knee with same hand as leg being stretched (Piriformis stretch)
3) Gently Pull knee towards you (Glute stretch)

1.7 – Quadriceps (no resistance band)
· Stretches thigh muscles in front of leg
· Lay on your side with bottom leg bent for leverage and arm placed where comfortable for support

1.7 Quads

1.7 Quads

Steps:
1) Engage Abs and gently bring top knee in towards you and grab foot with hand
2) Keeping abs engaged, Gently pull foot behind you pressing top hip slightly forward. Should be no pain in the knee
3) Repeat for other leg

2. Spine Stretches and Strengtheners (On Hands and Knees)

All 4s

All 4s

*If being on your hands bothers your wrists, you can modify each exercise by coming down to the forearms for a rest or resting in child’s pose (sitting back on heals).

2.1- Cat Stretch
· Stretches the spine
· On All 4s (Hands and Knees)
· Hands a bit wider then shoulders (just so that chest is not squished)
· Move through ‘mad cat’ and ‘happy cat’ 5-10 times

Steps:
1) Engage Abs (Belly to the Spine)
2) Push into hands rounding back into the sky (mad cat)

Cat Stretch-Mad Cat

Cat Stretch-Mad Cat

2.1 Cat Stretch-Happy Cat

2.1 Cat Stretch-Happy Cat

3) Arch middle of the back opening the chest (happy cat)

2.2- Wag the Tail (no pic yet)

· Creates lateral movement in the spine
· On All 4s
· Hands in line with shoulders

Steps:
1) Keeping spine in neutral position (natural without arching or rounding) move tail (butt) side to side
2) Add Head bringing head to tail side to side

2.3- Oppositional Balance

2.3 Oppositional Balance

2.3 Oppositional Balance

· Strengthens spinal muscles and abdominals
· On all 4s
· Hands a bit wider then shoulders
· Keep focus to the floor (keeps head in line with spine)
· 4-6 times on each side

Steps:
1) Slide opposite hand and foot along the floor away from the body continuing to lift arm and leg off the floor, reaching in opposite directions. Keep arm and leg in line with body (don’t lift too high)
2) Keep reaching for 5-10 seconds
3) Engage the abs and slowly come back to all 4s and repeat on other arm and leg

2.4- Plank to Push-Ups

2.4 Plank/Push-Up Position

2.4 Plank/Push-Up Position

· Super Core Strengthener
· Start on all 4s
· Up onto balls of feet for push-up position, reaching heals back
· Belly to Spine
· Make sure hands are in line with the shoulders
· Keep energy pushing through shoulders and and reaching through heals (think of it as an active position, not a pose)
· Body should make a plank position (no bumps)

Steps:
1) Hold Plank position for as long as possible up to one minute (come to forearms to perform this exercise if the wrists are in pain)
2) Go into Child’s Pose to Rest (Sitting on heels, head and chest down.)
3) Push-Ups-10 each

  • 1-Classic (wide)
  • 2-Diamond with the hands (elbows down to diagonal)
  • 3-Pilates Push-Up (hands under shoulders, fingers pointing forward, elbows straight back)
    2.5 Child's Pose 1

    2.5 Child’s Pose 2

    2.5 Child's Pose 2

    2.5 Child’s Pose 1

2.5 Child’s Pose

1) Relax back into sitting on heals, resting forehead on mat, arms out.

2) Turn head and place arms by your side. Breath and relax. Change the head.

This concludes AM Pilates & Posture’s basic stretching and strengthening routine. This routine is gentle enough to do every day!

For questions or to make an appointment please email: pilatesandposture@gmail.com

Disclaimer:
Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider before beginning any new exercise or stretching routine with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.


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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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Stronger and Thinner Every Day and a Faster 5K

In the November/December 2012 issue of Fitness Magazine, a hidden perk of core strength was highlighted. A study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research concluded that runners who added 6 weeks of core training to their usual workouts ran a much faster 5K then runners who did not add core training.

The Reason: The 4 sets of abdominal muscles – the Transverse, Internal Obliques, External Obliques, and Rectus Abdominus, support and stabilize your hips and pelvis, allowing your legs to do their job.

Specifically, the Transverse Abdominals-which run horizontally around your waist like a corset, are crucial for not only avid runners, but for all human kind! Our activities of daily living (ADLs) – walking, sitting, lifting, lowering, climbing (stairs), carrying, etc. call on the Transverse Abdominals to support our bodies, particularly our low backs, allowing for more efficient, pain free movement. Woman Measuring Waist

An added perk? The Transverse Abdominals are the muscles that cause the waistline to lose inches, just by the engagement of these muscles. I lose a total of 3.5 inches, measuring from my resting position to my active position as I pull my belly to my spine and sit or stand tall (see my 5 Points to Posture Perfection).

Adding the practice of Pilates just 2-3 times a week will significantly alter not only your 5K experience, but the rest of your days!

Interested in Pilates classes? Call or text me at 702-339-2809 or email at alisonb.marsh@yahoo.com