We all know that having some well sculpted glutes looks great right? But have you thought about the real benefits of having a strong butt? How well activated glutes can affect your posture, improve your athletic performance and reduce your chance of injury? For many individuals their glutes remain 'inactive' or 'switched off'. Inactive glutes can mean that the muscles are weak and are not relied on as much as they should be during exercise.
Glute activation refers to 'activating' or 'firing up' the muscles in order to strengthen them. If you're keen to learn more we are holding a GLUTE ACTIVATION WORKSHOP on Wednesday the 26th June at 6:30pm at Fleur Wellbeing Newcastle, hosted by our lovely Instructor Cat Magin. During this workshop we will explore some simple biomechanical tests to screen for poor glute activation and then review myofascial release techniques, strength exercises and neurological cues to get this group of muscles working properly and getting you on your way to a better butt and essentially a better life!
WHAT ARE YOUR GLUTES?
Your 'glutes' or your 'gluteal muscles' refer to the muscles in your butt. Specifically there are three major muscles in this area: your Gluteus maximus (the main, large muscle that shapes your backside), your Gluteus Medius and your Gluteus Minimus (two smaller muscles that assist your body in moving your body). Together the glutes work with your other core muscles to support your spine and maintain your posture.
WHAT CAUSES WEAK GLUTES?
There are many possible reasons for why someone may have weak glutes, however one of the main causes is that many of us are living increasingly sedentary lifestyles. Many jobs now involve people sitting down for a large part of their day, or after a long day of work we come home and sit on the couch; this means that the glute muscles can become dormant more than they should be. Another reason why someone may have weak glutes is because of poor form and generally over-relying on other muscles during everyday movements, which contributes further to the muscles remaining inactive. Or the glute muscles may just be overtight due to either too much sitting, overuse or overexertion in athletic performance and so it is important to know how to release these muscles in order to relieve tightness and ensure proper muscle activation.
WHY IS GLUTE ACTIVATION SO IMPORTANT?
Learning to activate your glutes properly is important so that you can strengthen them. The strength of the glute muscles can have a major impact on the overall strength of your body; your glutes support your core, help to support a range of exercises and compound movements, as well as help avoid muscle imbalances which can lead to decreased muscle mobility.
With so many of us having to spend the majority of our day "glued" to a chair, we are in danger of contracting the "sitting disease" which can lead to muscle degradation and a bad back. By strengthening your glute muscles your spine will have more support and your pelvis will automatically begin to stabilize. Both of which are essential to improve posture.
IMPROVED ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE
Your butt is actually capable of generating an incredible amount of power! Strengthening your glutes can lead to improved speed, acceleration and explosive power - athletes with stronger glutes are stronger and faster than those with weak glutes. The same goes for dancers, those with strong glutes can perform higher jumps and safer movements than those with weak glutes.
REDUCED CHANCE OF INJURY
Strong glutes play a vital role in reducing your chance of injury and having strong glute muscles can prevent serious injuries to your knees, lower back and hamstrings, all of which are essential to simple daily activities. Weak glute muscles can also cause poor lower back alignment which can lead to some serious injuries including sprains and tears in your back muscles.
So if you're keen to get working on those glute muscles and want to learn more, we'll see you at the Glute Activation workshop on the 26th of June, or in one of our many classes including Mat and Reformer Pilates, Barre or TRX where we will work closely with you to ensure proper technique, activation and alignment.
Written by Ellesse Hawkins
There are so many reasons that people choose to take up Pilates. Whether it be that they are an athlete wanting more power in their sport, a new mum wanting to strengthen her pelvic floor muscles post baby, or an office worker suffering from lower back pain - Pilates can be beneficial in so many different ways and for so many different reasons.
Here are some of the ways Pilates can help you:
1. Pilates for Elite Dancers:
Dancers spend an enormous amount of time per day in the studio, honing their technique, pushing their bodies to the limit and dedicating their lives to their art form. It is important for dancers to re-balance, re-align and re-connect to their bodies outside of the studio. Quite often dancers can become asymmetrical due to technical habits formed in their dance classes or due to injury and Pilates can help to balance out these imbalances. Pilates training helps to build deep core strength and rehabilitate injuries to help prolong the career of a dancer and support the physical demands that they place upon their bodies.
2. Pilates for Back Pain:
Back pain is extremely common and quite often work related, whether it be an occasional niggle or a chronic pain that is ongoing, strengthening your deep core abdominals through regular Pilates training can really help to both alleviate and prevent this discomfort. Pilates teaches you to engage your deep core abdominals or Transverse Abdominis to support your spine, and engage the correct postural muscles to keep you in proper alignment. Pilates can also help to support more severe back injuries such as disc injuries, SIJ dysfunction, and scoliosis in a safe way.
3. Pilates for Pelvic Floor Strength and Pre/Post Natal Mums:
Strengthening your pelvic floor muscles is super important both during and especially after your pregnancy. Having a strong pelvic floor will help to prevent pelvic floor prolapse after pregnancy, supports the pelvis and provides a strong base of support for your spine which can also assist in preventing and alleviating lower back pain. The pelvic floor or "stabilising" muscles support your bladder, bowel and uterus and provide lumbar-pelvic stability and there is a strong emphasis on pelvic floor activation along with deep core muscle activation in Pilates.
4. Pilates for Mindfulness
Pilates really requires you to focus on your breath as well as your body, and how they work together, so it's no wonder you leave a class feeling refreshed and a lot more "clear headed". There is no time to think of bills, to do lists, and other drama when each and every exercise requires so much focus and concentration. Focus on you for an hour, and forget about all the other stuff!
5. Pilates for Brain Power
The founder of The Pilates method, Joseph Pilates, once called his workout method "the thinking man's exercise". Research has shown that regular Pilates classes can help to improve neural network activity, cognitive function and memory performance and it is believed that Pilates may even hold the potential as a treatment option for people with brain-degenerative diseases and cognitive dysfunctions.
We have a range of Pilates classes at Fleur Wellbeing including both Reformer and Mat Pilates. Speak to us about your specific goals and how we can help you achieve success in your Pilates journey. For more info on our class times and descriptions please visit the Schedule + Classes tab on our website.
Written by Ellesse Hawkins.
The Pilates method is built upon 6 core principles which when applied create the foundation of the Pilates discipline. Once understood and practiced throughout your regular Pilates practice, you can quickly observe them flowing over into every day life becoming part of your lifestyle.
All Pilates exercises radiate from the center. This is a core-strengthening and conditioning program. It also serves to connect the body and give a focal point from which each movement comes forth. By ensuring this center is strong you can also provide good protection for the spine and pass on power to each movement. This is your Pilates ‘powerhouse’.
Joseph Pilates described his program as ‘Contrology’. This central theory is what umbrellas the other Pilates principles. The premise is that controlling your muscles and movements allows for you to better exercise and move in a way to benefit the body. This is basically the opposite of a chaotic approach where you exert lots of energy but don’t control the movements, thus weakening or losing any real benefits. Contrology is not just about the physical body either. It’s also about the mind and how to become body aware and let the mind take the lead.
You might enjoy mindless exercising while you watch a screen or listen to some music at the same time. Pilates however demands your attention. It is not enough to simply go through the motions. Because Pilates is all about how you do exercises it is vital that you keep your mind on each movement to ensure you are performing the proper form. Mindfulness can help relax the body as thoughts and judgements flow away. Joseph Pilates saw his techniques as “coordinating mind, body and spirit.”
Movement precision builds on concentration. Precision is achieved by clearly moving, directing and placing the body and its parts. Realise that every movement has a purpose and every cue or instruction is important to the success of the movement.
Pilates, like yoga, calls for complete, thorough and purposeful inhalation and exhalation. But in Pilates, unlike in yoga, inhalation is through the nose and exhalation through the mouth. Conscious breathing and specific breathing patterns assist movement by focusing the attention and direction of the body and by delivering oxygen to the muscles being used. Full breathing also assists in removing non beneficial chemicals that may be stored in the muscles (Pilates 1945) .
Pilates may have an emphasis on form but the movements are not robotic and there is a flow created which helps to build a workout that challenges the body. The breath sets the rhythm and this is used, alongside the sequence of movements, to flow seamlessly from one position to the next. The connection you feel during sessions and the momentum each movement creates gives Pilates a sense of flowing energy.
So next time you're in class, see if you can being to mind these 6 important principles and enhance your Pilates training!
Written by Ellesse Hawkins