Friday, October 10, 2014

Recruit the Glutes, Part Three: PILATES!

As part of learning to Recruit My Glutes, in addition to my mobility exercises, I figured it would be a good idea for me to try some pilates.  So this past Wednesday, I went to my first one on one pilates session with my lovely friend Elyse.  She reads my ramblings so she had a good idea as to what my issues were.  She asked me to re-cap all my issues (crossover arm swing, trendelenberg gait a.ka. hip drop, foot crossover) and then she asked me what gets tired when I run.  I immediately answered my "shoulders, traps, then my legs".  Legs are somewhat understandable.  But the fact that my shoulders and traps get tired, means that they're doing work that they shouldn't be doing.  So it would seem that not only are my glutes and issue but so are my shoulder / back muscles.  I'm beginning to think my entire back side is the issue, not just my glutes.

I've never done pilates before but I've been on a reformer once during a physio session.  My lack of knowledge didn't matter as Elyse explained the machine and it's various pieces.  Before she got me on to the reformer, she chatted with me about what my main complaints were.  She then did a little assessment with me (totally proving the fact that my right leg is SO much weaker than my left) followed by some mat work.  To start, she had me do some shoulder and core mobility work on a foam roller of all things!  It was challenging.  I'm so used to moving on auto pilot that I really had to think about what I was doing.  She then had me get on this squishy balance disc, which I totally want.  I did some glute bridges and we talked about where I was feeling things.  For the first few, my hamstrings definitely wanted to do the work but then all of sudden, I started to feel it in my glutes.   YAY!

After I was sufficiently warmed up she had me get on the reformer.  I was kneeling on the slide board with my hands in the pulleys and all I did was pull back with both arms.  Holy smokes was that ever hard.  I really had to work to try to engage my shoulder muscles.  Once again it took me a while to get things firing.  I think my mid back is pretty lazy.    She had me change my hand position and do it again.  I could definitely feel it.  I think I need to get some more pulley work in my life.  Good thing we just added this to our "Pain Cave" in the basement.   Lots of pulley action on this baby!

Next we moved on to working core and glutes.  She had me try a variety of foot positions while pushing up on the glide board.  Some were more challenging than others.  What I noticed the most was the tightness of my ankles.  Which, I'm sure is also a contributing factor to much of my problems.   There were some foot positions where I could feel my glutes engage but my quads definitely wanted to do the work.  I really had to think about NOT using them.  When I was lying on the glide board and doing the work, it didn't seem too hard but once I stood up, I could feel all the muscles I had just used.  It was crazy. 

The core work involved pulleys.  Thankfully I was lying down because if I had to do any of that stuff standing up, I would have wiped out.  Graceful is not a word I'd use to describe myself, ha ha.  I did a series of leg extensions then she had me do circles with my legs.  Clockwise and counter clockwise.  Holy smokes those were hard.  But I actually felt all the smaller muscles working. 

After the session I felt great.  My neck pain had actually subsided and my range of motion increased!  My shoulders and chest felt much more open.  I definitely felt like I worked my hips and glutes and I figured I'd be sore but Elyse said I probably wouldn't be.  She said I'd more than likely feel more "supported" which is exactly how I'd describe it.  I walked around yesterday entirely pain free.  My legs felt strong and I felt like my stride was different.  Like all my muscles were working as I walked.  I can't wait to go back next Wednesday for another session.

I feel so good, I may actually lace up my shoes and go for a short run this weekend.  We shall see. 

Have you ever tried pilates?

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