5 pilates exercises you can do at home

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Dr. Karyn Staples, PT, PhD, lead Physical Therapist at ProHealth Physical Therapy and Pilates Studio in Peachtree City demonstrates each of our Pilates exercises that you can do at home. This is Quadruped.

Dr. Karyn Staples, PT, PhD, lead Physical Therapist at ProHealth Physical Therapy and Pilates Studio in Peachtree City demonstrates each of our Pilates exercises that you can do at home. This is Quadruped.

Every woman wants to feel fit and move without pain. But that wasn’t working very well for Eileen (*name changed.) In her mid-50s, Eileen had injuries in her knees, back, neck and shoulders that made everyday tasks painful.

She wasn’t riding her bicycle or doing her household tasks in an efficient manner. She would do one load of laundry, and not be able to change the sheets on the bed. Cooking a meal took multiple rest breaks. Going to the grocery store would be the big adventure for the day, and then she would be done. Or she would muddle through and hurt so badly that she wouldn’t sleep at night.

Then Eileen came to ProHealth Physical Therapy and Pilates Studio in Peachtree City. A Pilates-based physical therapy program allows for improved body alignment and postural strength which is optimal for healing injuries, says Pilates Expert Karyn Staples, PT, PhD, ProHealth’s lead physical therapist.

“Any time someone hurts in many areas, it’s a continual process of realignment,” Staples says. She recommends setting one goal to achieve each week, and once that goal is achieved moving on to something else. This can be done in the studio, but also at home utilizing simple Pilates exercises, during everyday activities.

“I always give some level of ‘homework.’ This allows it to be a partnership between the client and the teacher,” Staples says. “I call the exercises they are doing their foundational exercises. The main underlying principal is to set your body with a good foundation. No matter what you may be doing otherwise, you’ve alerted the body and prepped it for whatever functions you are doing during the day.”

“When you start anything new or change a poor movement pattern, you have to reset the pattern. In order to reset the pattern, you have to do the new pattern well and continuously up to 10,000 repetitions to make that happen. By having some simple movements that are safe and effective to do at home, you are able to build on what you are doing in the studio or at the gym or on the ball field.”

Eileen started coming to ProHealth for physical therapy, but quickly transitioned to Pilates. “She wanted more constant guidance, and wanted to be on the wellness track for care. She wanted to be in charge of where her recovery would occur,” Staples says.

“She was coming to Pilates once a week, and that wasn’t going to correct the imbalances,” Staples said. “She needed to spend time every day going over those foundational exercises. Over the time she’s worked with me, the exercises she’s needed have evolved.”

This is the chest lift with towel.

This is the chest lift with towel.

“People are fearful of moving, because they think it’s going to hurt worse,” Staples said. “Our goal is to get people to a place where they feel like they can confidently move without increasing their pain.”

Eileen has had all these exercises in her repertoire at one time or another. Staples recommends coming into ProHealth to learn the best possible form for the following exercises, and that you consult your physician prior to beginning any exercise protocol.

“If you’re new to Pilates, the best thing to do is to come in for a one-on-one session,” says Staples. She suggests using private Pilates lessons as a springboard to joining one of thirteen weekly group classes offered at ProHealth.

For a limited time, ProHealth is offering a Starter Package for first-time clients. The discounted $160 Starter Package includes three hour-long private sessions with a Pilates instructor and two group Pilates classes. Scheduling at least one private session before the first class is recommended to get the lingo and motions down.

ProHealth Physical Therapy and Pilates Studio is located at 1401 Georgian Park, Suite 120 in Peachtree City. To schedule Physical Therapy or a Private Pilates lesson, or to book your Starter Package, call ProHealth at 770-487-1931.

  1. Chest Lift with a towel: Place a towel on your mat so that it goes from your waistline to above your head. Lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Place your hands on the corners of the towel. Allow your head to stay resting in the towel. Inhale to prepare the body. As you exhale, curl your head, neck and shoulder blade area off the mat. Inhale here. Exhale as you slowly lower down. Keep your pubic bone parallel to the ceiling. You should always have a very small space opposite your belly button off the mat, even when you’re in the curled position. Repeat 10 times.
  2. Book Openings: Lie on your side, knees bent. Make your knees straight out in line with your hips, and your feet straight down from your knees. Bottom hand behind your head with your elbow pointing forward. Top hand behind your head with your elbow pointing forward. Inhale as you roll your upper body away from your bottom arm. Keep your top arm close to your face. Exhale to rotate a little more. Inhale to hold. Exhale to return to starting position. The movement is a rotation in your spine (rib cage area.) Imagine your lower back and pelvis region is resting against a wall, and cannot move. Your knees should always stay in line with one another. Repeat 10 times on each side.
  3. Swimming: Lie down on your stomach, arms reaching straight out in front, legs straight behind you. Keep your pubic bone reaching towards your belly button, as if you could slide a piece of paper between your belly and the mat. Inhale to gently lift arms, legs, and chest slightly off the mat. Exhale as you start alternating lifting and lowering opposite arm and leg, a little higher, a little lower. Keep your chest lifted the entire time. Breathe smoothly in and out. Continue for 30 seconds. The ultimate goal is to increase your tempo (speed) of arm and leg kicking.
  4. Side Lift: Lying on your side, place your bottom arm on the surface with your elbow directly below your shoulder. Keep both knees bent. Create a space with your body to form a triangle underneath your body. Your floor is a straight line, your arm is a straight line, and your torso is a diagonal. Inhale to keep that position. Exhale to press through your arm and your knees to lift your hip off the surface. Hold for an inhale and an exhale. And lower your hips down. Start with a small hold, 5 seconds, and do several repetitions. Goal: Keep lifted position for 30 seconds.
  5. Quadrupled: Align yourself on your hands and knees, creating a box with your body, hands directly below shoulders, knees directly below hips. Imagine you have taffy between your hands and you are trying to pull that taffy to either side of the room. Keep your pubic bone parallel to the floor (this makes sure you only have a small curve in your lower back.) Gently slide your right arm and your left leg away from one another, keeping your finger tips and your toe tips still touching the floor. Once they are as long as they can get, inhale to float them up off the surface of the floor. Exhale to hold. Inhale to lower. Repeat 10 times. Return the arm and leg back to their starting position, and then repeat ten times with the left arm and right leg.  Focus on keeping your body between two imaginary walls that are touching either shoulder. This allows your body to stay level to the floor as you move your arm and leg.

Ellie White-Stevens

Ellie White-Stevens, Marketing Guru, creates compelling marketing messages, builds visual reputation including logos and design projects, and develops search friendly, content-based websites for successful small and mid-sized businesses. Visit everellie.com or call 770-301-8706.