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Osteoporosis and exercise: debunking the biggest myth

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Osteoporosis, defined as an extreme loss of bone density, is one of the most common age-related conditions. It currently affects more than 200 million men and women worldwide.

Enter it into a Google search and you get a whopping 70.9 MILLION search results. Narrow that search to “osteoporosis and exercise” and you’re still at 43.5 million. That’s no small amount of information to sift through.

And here’s the crux — we know that almost anyone can post anything about any subject. So, when your clients run a search trying to understand more about osteoporosis and exercise, how do they even know what’s true? And how can you help them debunk deep-set myths and offer education in a way that will guide them toward a happier, healthier lifestyle?

Let’s dive right in by addressing the elephant in the room: The most common held belief surrounding osteoporosis and exercise is that low impact, lightweight, gentle exercises are the most beneficial, the “safest,” for clients who suffer from osteoporosis.

And that’s simply NOT true.

While it may seem counterintuitive, those lightweight, gentle movement exercises are going to be way riskier. What osteoporosis clients benefit from most is high-intensity resistance and impact training. Weights are good! Heavy load is good!

The Strength, Impact and Density Correlation

While there’s certainly plenty of misinformation out there, as you’re educating yourself and your clients about osteoporosis and what exercises they’ll benefit from most, take a look at this ReasearchGate study chronicling the connection between bone density and strength. There’s a ton of good stuff in there, but basically, as your clients strengthen their muscles, their bones benefit too! They’re not going to get that same benefit from light weights or light resistance.

And it’s not solely about prevention. The right exercises are safe and effective in treating osteoporosis and increasing bone density too! Studies from Science Direct (here and here), and The American Society for Bone and Mineral Research all demonstrate a direct correlation between mechanical load and management of osteoporosis.

We know these studies, though filled with great facts about exercise and osteoporosis, are also a lot to read through. Not to worry. Raphael and Cloe cover all of this and more in Episode 26 of our Pilates Elephants podcast.

Pilates and Osteoprosis

Many people often feel like osteoporosis is just a normal part of aging, and nothing can truly prevent this, but that’s not true! In fact, prevention starts at a young age. It’s no secret that our bodies do just about everything more efficiently when we are younger. That includes building and managing our bone density. If parents need one more reason to get their kids off the couch and outdoors, this is definitely a big one. Encouraging clients and their families to simply be active and strengthen their muscles is valuable.

So, can Pilates itself help treat osteoporosis? As we consider the invaluable benefits of resistance training in building muscles and couple that with our understanding that research provides a demonstrable correlation between muscle strength and bone density, then the answer is YES! Pilates is one way to improve bone health at any age. In fact, the International Osteoporosis Foundation recommends routine exercise to prevent osteoporosis. Bottom line – Pilates is typically safe and beneficial for individuals already diagnosed with osteoporosis, but clients should be encouraged to talk with their healthcare provider before starting any new exercise routine.

Cueing up that next breath for a client? Here’s when to pass

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A question we’ve heard plenty of times from students and professionals alike is how breath factors into our practice — or more to the point, should we even be cueing clients to breathe during their practice.

While breathing is naturally a big part of what we do here at, ahem, Breathe Education, the answer to this question is a little more variable than you might expect. Perhaps the more useful question here is why you would cue breath. The most basic reasons we might guide a client’s breathing are to relax the body and settle into the environment of the lesson. To that, it might be helpful to cue breath at the beginning or end of a class, if only to aid those transitions into or out of the Pilates headspace, or to help someone find a shape as they work through positions. We’ve all felt those instances where we can breathe our way through moments of discomfort or difficulty, so sometimes prompting that deliberate inhale-exhale can help push a stretch to the next level. That can be especially true in positions that involve spinal extensions or flexions, which map very nicely to the pattern of breathing. You can test this wherever you might be right now by taking a nice, deep in-breath. You’ll find your spine naturally wants to extend a bit, and then vice versa on the exhale.

Maybe the last big reason we’d cue someone’s breath is if we know they’re either pregnant and/or have high blood pressure. This is because breath-holding can actually raise our blood pressure as we go through the exercise, which can have some unintended side effects if those underlying conditions are present.

Ok, so those are instances where we might want to cue breath. So why wouldn’t we want to do that?

The simplest answer is this: Current research shows that motor learning (movement skills) is facilitated best by keeping things simple. Cue what is necessary to get people moving. This is especially important for beginners, who typically have enough to focus on already without the added layer of syncing up their breathing with all this unfamiliar repertoire. Breathing is the first thing we did when we were born, it’s not something we were taught to do so why do we feel the need to cue each and every breath?

So there we have it, our quick take on when and why to cue breathing! Our CEO and thinker-in-chief Raphael has touched on this subject a few times in his (very) helpful AMAs, so don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’ve got further questions.

AMA Ask Me Anything 10 July 2020

By anatomy, biomechanics, Injury prevention, Online teaching, Pilates industry, Pilates teaching, Pregnancy, Rehabilitation & Pain science, Uncategorized

Topics in this video

  • How to find clients for your online classes
  • Neutral vs imprint – why?
  • When/if it’s important to cue breath
  • What to do for tenosynovitis of the thumb
  • When rehabilitating an injury, should we also work the uninjured side of the body?

  • Can a snapped Achilles tendon heal without surgery?
  • Exercises to help someone with abdominal separation
  • Is high intensity weight training safe during pregnancy?
  • Pilates considerations for Scheuermann’s disease

  • Exercise considerations for low PAPP-A during pregnancy?
  • Why do my hamstrings always feel tight despite stretching and rolling?
  • Exercises for degenerative knee arthritis
  • Sacroiliac joint sprain
  • What should I study next?

Manifesto For The Pilates Industry

By Business, Pilates industry, Pilates teaching, Uncategorized

These beliefs are our compass: We think they should be yours too

Challenging times call for clear vision, optimism, creativity and agility

  1. The value of an instructor lies not in equipment or premises but in the client’s experience, results, and emotions
  2. Classes are not a public service but an exchange of value and should be priced as such
  3. People can learn physical skills to a high level in a purely online format
  4. The present restrictions will probably continue until the end of 2020
  5. This situation represents a fundamental paradigm shift and a massive opportunity for Pilates instructors, studio owners and the Pilates industry
  6. After restrictions are lifted, things are unlikely to return to the way they were before: The industry worldwide will have new norms, new technologies, new competitors, new consumer expectations, and ultimately a vastly different competitive landscape
  7. We don’t know what the world or the Pilates industry will look like in 12 months, so the best way to prepare for success is to develop agility, resourcefulness and resilience
  8. Instructors and studio owners who wholeheartedly welcome the challenges and leap into the new opportunities inherent in these times will flourish

Online classes have many benefits for clients and instructors including:

  • greater class numbers without crowding
  • no travel time, transport cost, or parking required
  • because of no travel time, classes can potentially be done at any time of day including during work hours
  • increased opportunity for social connection
  • increased geographical catchment area
  • multiple clients in same family can workout together potentially for one price
  • no child-minding needed
  • no queue to sign-in or use the change room

Give yourself permission to try with Anula Maiberg

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Anula is an owner at Sixth Street Pilates in New York, a regular presenter on Pilates Anytime, and prolific presenter of workshops. She is co-author and instigator of Shift Happens with creative partner James Crader.

In addition to being a highly accomplished Pilates teacher, Anula Maiberg is a walking paradox. She is at one and the same time ironic and guileless, simple and subtle, dark and optimistic, artful and down to earth.

Most of all though, she is a deep thinker when it comes to Pilates, and the way she thinks about the movement flows over into the social and cultural context of Pilates today. Anula also has the knack of summarising the human experience with clarity and simplicity. She is a master of soundbites. And there are plenty in this interview.

How to overcome self-limiting beliefs and achieve your goals with Lesley Logan

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Lesley Logan of Profitable Pilates is justly regarded as a great teacher in her own right and a powerhouse of the Pilates industry.

In this episode, Lesley talks about what she learned from Pilates Elder (Joseph’s direct student) Jay Grimes, the benefits of online Pilates, and how she overcomes negative self-talk and imposter syndrome. Lesley talks through how to differentiate yourself, and how to intentionally attract more of the clients you want to work with.

If you want to learn more from Lesley Logan about how to attract more of your best clients, her Becoming Known online course is amazing.

Are Expensive Running Shoes Really Safer?

By Uncategorized
There is a widespread belief among recreational athletes that running shoes play an important role in injury prevention by providing cushioning. Custom-fitted shoes and newer shoes are generally thought to provide better protection than older, less expensive shoes.

Surprisingly, scientific evidence points in the opposite direction.

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