Should You Just Dive Right In?

diving

By Donna Gambino, PT, CPI

So it’s an interesting change for me.   Going from a “lone wolf” Pilates business owner and trainer to now being back in a studio environment.  Any of you who know me know that I am easily distracted – from pretty earrings, sparkly necklaces, bird on a branch outside the class window to— poor posture, poor technique, a missed muscle weakness.  So you can imagine having lots of people in my view makes it challenging to focus. Now look at the picture of those women diving and all the different positions. LOL

I’ve been actually thinking of this topic for a long time.  Ever since the flooding of the market with franchise Pilates studios on every corner.  The therapist inside me screams a long howling moan as I hear from and see people go to large classes that they are in no way prepared to attend.  I see testimonials on Instagram and Facebook of people saying how it changed their life, and then pictures of them performing the moves. However, in these pictures I SEE the poor alignment issues, the poor techniques, the remaining postural problems. So here’s my question— Should you just dive right into a group Pilates class on the mat, reformer, stability chair or TRX ?  Is “just do it” the approach? Let’s talk about it.

So as a therapist , I am all about alignment. I mean ALL ( yes shouty capitals) about alignment.  The entire structure and its alignment is what we are always striving to improve and perfect.  Perfection is rarely possible, but getting as close to it is what we strive for.  The structure- your skeleton- is designed to work optimally with the bones in a certain alignment.  The main issues interfering with this alignment are the muscles that attach to the bones pulling them in different directions depending on how strong or weak they are.  The length of those muscles put forces on the bones pulling them one way or the other.  A strong muscle is a tight muscle and weak muscle is a lengthened muscle. Plain and simple.  For you knitters- its like not having the tension right with the yarn.  The shape of your sweater depends on the tension of the yarn. The body is the same. SO, if we have poor posture ( and who doesn’t with technology), if we are out of shape, have had an injury or surgery,  or have just been doing nothing lately, then muscles will adapt.  That’s the simplistic definition for poor alignment.

So if you’ve decided as your New Years resolution or your doctor has said “do some Pilates, it’s great for back pain” Should you just dive into a class head first because you got a Groupon deal?  Or should you be assessed by a professional? and WHO?

So of course I am biased I’ve been in my field for 35 years but I am going to try to give you a guide. First– do you have pain? Low back, neck, shoulder, hip, knee. Are you post -surgery? Have cancer or chronic illness? Then in my opinion you need to see a physical  therapist first for an assessment. I don’t mean a chiropractor ( sorry guys)  no disrespect but they do not receive the training that PTs do in exercise physiology and treatment.  Even your family practice doctor does not get many hours in their training curriculum  on posture analysis, kinesiology and therapeutic exercise. That’s why we are PT’s and they are Drs. You can see a PT in a clinic so insurance will cover it. Or find a PT that is a Pilates instructor.  There are many of them out there now, call around to Pilates studios and ask.  OR if you do not have any of the problems listed above then you are fine to see a certified Pilates trainer privately before you start. If they have a certification then they are trained in postural evaluation and some have taken extra classes in evaluating special populations.

What do I mean by assessment?  Well if you have the problems listed above and it is your desire to reduce pain,  become stronger, change posture and move better, then there is a proper way to do it.  Again, in my opinion you cannot just dive right in.  You have to get “ready” first.  Just like anything else, you can’t just plant a garden by throwing the seeds out in the dirt, you can’t build a house without pouring the foundation. You CANNOT change the body either by just jumping into a class.  You need to lay the groundwork for success.  Your assessment should be thorough.  I mean you should be looked at from head to toe, front to back, side to side, each joint,  the movement at those joints, the strength at each joint ( feet too) , and your gait.  Now that sounds like a lot right? But for those of us that are trained we can usually look at your posture and tell a lot just from that.  Then we delve in further to see what else we can find.  We love picking you apart.

Ok, so you’ve  been assessed.  Can you dive in now?  NO not yet! Once you are assessed and have your laundry list of your problems, imbalances, strengths, weaknesses, etc then you have to address those.  How do we set you up for success?  Example- Are your hamstrings so short your legs don’t touch the mat when lying down? Well then we need to have a plan to get those stretched out first.  Are your shoulders so rounded and neck so forward that you can’t  lay flat on the mat without neck discomfort? Well, we need to have a plan to fix that first.  You see, you can’t just start performing a program if the structure needs work first.  You can’t just throw up drywall without the studs being in the right place.  By jumping in too soon or ill-prepared you risk a few things. 1.  You can make things worse.  Your body hates when it’s not in the proper alignment and it will tell you by giving you more pain.  You could be reinforcing and irritating what is already wrong.   Start doing push-ups with those rounded shoulders and see if your posture gets better ( hint – it won’t) Start doing squats with those tight hamstrings and see if they get looser ( hint- they won’t)  2. Nothing will change.  How do I know this? I see it all the time.  People who work out regularly and have cut muscles but their form is still off and they still have pain and dysfunction but tell me they’ve been working out regularly for 2 years or more. They have problems that weren’t addressed.

So what should you start with- a private session or class?  Quick answer- private sessions.  In my opinion again, I think its crucial to begin with the assessment, then train with a trainer who knows their stuff and fix the foundation first.  That’s not saying that you won’t be able to do any Pilates moves, but you may not do many of them at first. You only should be doing the exercises that are fixing your specific issues.   If you are in a class you will be following the herd. And the herd is all different ( refer to diving picture again), so it may not address your specific problems or you will feel inclined to follow the herd with a move that is of no value to you. You should continue with your private sessions until you’ve started to see changes ( in structure or pain) and have reviewed the exercises for the class you think you want to attend – mat or equipment. This way you will know if there are any modifications specific for you and you will know them ahead of time. This way there are no deer in the head light looks for the teacher when you start.   In this phase of your training you should be performing a home program daily to help with moving the process of change along.  Have at least 3-5 exercises that are critical in helping you change.  They may be stretches, strengthening or both. ( get a trainer that will give you the exercises, if they won’t, find a new trainer)

What should I start with- mat or equipment?  I think mat is the way to start.  On the mat, its just you and your body.  No shiny objects to distract you.  The equipment work is great but remember at this point you are learning to move correctly,  learning to feel your body move correctly, learning to breathe with movement, changing posture, improving strength and changing imbalances. By starting on the mat you will be able to perform the exercises at home on your own without the equipment.  Mat teaches you so much about how to move,  how to adjust and self correct.  This is functional movement.  Once you have a good understanding of the mat work you can easily transition to the equipment, and in my opinion do much better.

So I hope that I explained my thoughts/ frustrations with clients wanting to dive into a program too fast. I get that it’s exciting and new and you want to “just do it.”  But I hope you now understand why you should pump the brakes.  I hope if any trainers are reading this you will see how laying down a pathway to success for new fitness clients will improve your outcomes and by that improve your businesses reputation.   Maybe this can change the way we look at exercise more than as something we just DO to stay fi and look good, but as something we do to keep our bodies really working to the best of its ability for the long term.

Questions? Ideas for another blog? Send me a message.

Donna is currently teaching at My Pilates Studio, Dayton Ohio.

infinityhealth.org for info on Donna’s books and home equipment she recommends.

 

A Tall Cup of Joe

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This blog post was created for the Blog “MORE than my height” morethanmyheight.com.  Two amazing sisters Alli and Amy who launched the company Amalli Talli to provide trendy clothing styles for tall girls and women. Their blog provides a place where women can come together to learn from and inspire each other, and also educate the world on the private struggles that can exist for tall girls in hopes to influence better conversations together. Visit their blog  Read on….

I am a tall girl. 6 ‘to be exact. As well as being tall, I am a physical therapist and certified Pilates instructor, so I have spent my career teaching people how to manage their bodies and all the things that come along with it. I have learned that tall women have a unique experience growing up in an average sized world. They experience their bodies totally different than the average sized woman.
As teens we may try to hide our height due to not wanting to stand out, not wanting to be taller than boys or from just feeling too “big”. We struggle as we grow older with the world not fitting us comfortably; countertops and desks being too low, bath tubs being too short, shower nozzles hitting us in the heads, airplane seats not having enough leg room, even wearing clothes too tight in the shoulders because we are slaves to fashion. All this adjusting to the environment has led our bodies to adapt as well, like the stepsister trying to fit her size 11 foot in the size 7 glass slipper. So what does all this adapting lead to? You guessed it- poor posture, postural strain, tight muscles and long term / chronic pain. After living this life myself I know how uncomfortable it can be. This is where my Pilates training has really shown me the benefits of this practice for tall girls. Now let me share with you.
OUR UNIQUE PHYSIQUE
We have a unique set of problems mostly because everything is too low for us. The three major areas of the spine – the neck, upper back, low back and even the knees- are all affected. In an attempt to perform our activities of daily living we bend or slouch to fit our environment. Slouching causes the head, upper back and shoulders to round forward. This presents with tight muscles on the front of the body (the pectoralis muscles) and long weak muscles on the back of our bodies (the middle trapezius and rhomboids). It allows our cervical vertebra to shift, which can cause nerve compression. Long term this leads to pain in the neck, upper back and shoulders, which you may feel as postural strain at the end of your day. We also stress the lower back repeatedly as tall women leaning over counters that are too low or taking care of small children. Our long legs and torsos make us have to bend farther down then average height people or stress our knees by squatting constantly. Repeated lumbar flexion due to our long legs and torsos can cause repeated increased disc pressure leading to muscle strain, low back pain, or even disc herniations.
SO how do we manage these body stressors as tall girls? First you need to get your posture evaluated by a trained physical therapist or Pilates instructor if you are experiencing pain. Knowing what your problem areas are first is the key to a beginning a training program. Going into a program without this can create more of a problem if you don’t know your unique postural picture. Once you know this then you can begin a Pilates program that can address your specific postural challenges.
WHAT CAN PILATES DO?
The entire focus of Pilates is spinal alignment and core strength. As a therapist I can tell you that most problems with the body stem from the alignment of the spine. It’s ALL about alignment. So when we get our tall spines into a spinal neutral (the natural alignment of our spine) and our muscles at optimal lengths, you will be able to manage your world a lot easier. Since all our strength comes from our centers (aka core) Pilates is the perfect program for the tall girl. We need to make sure we have a strong and stable spine to be able to send energy out to our long limbs. When I used to complain about my big feet my grandmother used to say “you can’t have a tall building on a small foundation” the same holds true for our bodies. You can’t have a tall building with a weak infrastructure. Pilates can benefit tall girls by:
1. Creating length (yes length) in our spinal columns from the core training. Allowing vertebrae to have more flexibility and space and to put it back into the neutral spinal position.
2. Improve our postural awareness and strength teaching us to lift and open our chests, pull our shoulders back and align our spine creating postural endurance.
3. Stretch tight muscles that have changed due to our adaptations to the environment.
4. Teach us proper body mechanics and efficient movements to use when bending, squatting, lifting and sitting. All activities that can cause pain after repeatedly performing with poor techniques.
5. Decrease our incidences of low back injury by improving core stability and improved body mechanics.
6. And of course- long, lean toned muscles to help us just look and feel great.
WHAT WILL I DO?
This depends on what you like. My suggestion of getting an evaluation first I think is key, then you can go from there. Do you want a group class? Mat Pilates is a great way to begin teaching you the foundation moves and techniques for proper form. You will use small equipment like bands, weighted balls, foam rollers, and more to help either assist or challenge you. If you want a more one on one program or require it due to pain or injury, then private training on the Pilates equipment is a great way to begin. Here you will get proper attention that is tailored just for your specific postural and strength needs.
EASY HOME EXERCISES
There is a lot you can do at home and this is one of the most beneficial things about Pilates—you can do it anywhere. One of the things I like to start many of my clients on is the foam roller. This 36 in by 6 in foam roll can help with getting your spine back into alignment. For the tall girl it is a great way to get you to open up your chest and reposition the upper back at the end of a long day of rounding over desks or computers. Just lying on the roller for 10-15 minutes can cause your spine to return to its spinal neutral. Two great exercises the “Snow Angel” and the “Thoracic Spine Stretch” are a great way to start. These exercises specifically target the upper chest area and upper back that can be tight in most tall women. These exercises give you a lot of information on how tight you truly are when you first begin. Try doing both of these exercises once a day in the evening and see how great you feel when you roll.
The Snow Angel
Position yourself on the roller vertically. Lift your arms over head and then gradually begin to bend your elbows and pull your arms down into a “goal post” position. Your forearms should rest comfortably on the mat. Breathe deeply and let the muscles lengthen. This can take time and can be uncomfortable. If your forearms don’t touch the ground you are most likely tight in your pectoralis muscles. Straighten your elbows and begin stretching this way until you loosen up.
Keep in mind- until you stretch the pectoralis muscles out you cannot change your posture. You have to stretch the tight muscles first before you can strengthen the back muscles that will then hold you in a more upright position. Perform this every day for about 5-10 minutes or as tolerated.

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Thoracic Spine Stretch
Position the roller horizontally on the mat. Drape your upper body over the roller supporting your head with your hands. Breathe deeply and let your spine relax. After a few breaths reposition a bit higher or lower on your spine and continue the deep breathing. If you would like to massage the upper back muscles, lift your pelvis off the mat and roll on the roller like a rolling pin. This can cause the muscles to lengthen and relax.

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Lift Pelvis to massage

TO SUM IT UP…..

Postural strength for the tall girl is something that we need to address in our daily lives and in our exercise programs throughout our lives. I may be biased, but I do believe that Pilates is the best exercise program to do that. By keeping your muscles lengthened and flexible, your frame in alignment, and your core strong, you can continue throughout your life to keep your tall body looking fabulous. Don’t hide your beautiful height by slouching- stand tall and show the world your confidence!

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Donna Gambino is a licensed physical therapist and certified Pilates instructor in Canton, MI. Donna specializes in orthopedic and sports medicine physical therapy and is owner of Infinity Health, LLC, providing Pilates classes, personal training, and professional workshops. Donna is the author of the popular fitness books “On a Roll @ Home, Home Exercises for Core Strength and Massage on the Foam Roller, “Age Perfected Pilates, Mat Exercises to Improve Posture, Strength and Movement” and e-book “ On a Roll @ Home, Home Exercises for Stretch and Massage on the Foam Roller” all available on Amazon.com

Exercises from this article can be found in the e-book “On a Roll @ Home, Home Exercises for Stretch and Massage on the Foam Roller”   For the actual full program purchase “On a Roll @ Home, Home Exercises for Core Strength and Massage on the Foam Roller” via Amazon.com

 

 

SKINCARE- THE BODY

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This week I am going to be random and just talk about products that I like for the body. It is so important to keep the skin on your body matching the luxuriousness of your face. Especially after you put so much time, effort and money into it.
All of us deal with different skin dramas- dark spots, freckles, spider veins, crepey-ness. Here’s a list of some of the things I have found to help with these problems and also a list of tanning products I like since you HAVE to stay out of the sun, or all of those above problems just get much worse.
1. Exfoliating bath gloves– Here’s your first step. Exfoliate a few times a week. These are so effective and easy. Just pop them on and take your shower using your favorite body wash. They will get rid of all the dead skin cells making your arms and legs smooth, less crepey and ready to absorb your products or to self-tan.

exfoliatingmitts

2. Moisturizing Body Lotion with a sunscreen– These, luckily, are becoming more available now. There are a few that I found recently at the drug store and one that is a higher end product that’s been out for a while. These products are not greasy or sticky, which is a pet peeve of mine. I hate getting all ready for the day then putting on a sunscreen that makes me feel sticky, hot and dirty. These leave you feeling soft and smooth and protected from the sun. Save your Bath and Body works fragrant lotions for the winter since they do not protect your skin from sun damage.

3. Two Items for “Crepey-ness– Not sure how to spell this since auto-correct doesn’t show it as a word. BUT it’s definitely a thing as we age. My favorite products for this are The Josie Maran Whipped Argan Oil Body Butter and Coconut Oil. I use a recipe that I have made myself that I whip with solid coconut oil, or I use fractionated coconut oil that is in liquid form (not the cooking stuff). The fractionated oil for the body you can get at Amazon or at a health store. These products applied nightly and regularly help to plump the skin and help it retain its natural oils. The fractionated coconut oil is a carrier oil so if you would like your regular products to absorb a bit better put a layer of that on first then your regular lotion. It will absorb a lot better.

4. Tanning products– Want that glowing tan but not the damage? I have tested so many self-tanners high end and low end. Truthfully the one I have found recently is now my current favorite. It’s Jergens Instant Sun. Apply this mousse with a tanning mitt and rub in well. It dries in 60 seconds and then over the course of a few hours develops into a nice glow. I use the deep tan since I have found that the fair skin ones always look orange. If you have that problem I would try the darker ones. Do a test patch somewhere that’s hidden. Keep this tan looking good with their gradual self- tanning daily lotions or the Jergens BB body cream that hides small imperfections. These products are all affordable. In fact I will apply the self- tanner and then after it’s dry, apply the BB Cream for the body. Together my skin looks even and glowy.


BONUS- Here is my special recipe for……
DONNA’S WHIPPED LAVENDER BODY BUTTER (Top Secret)
1 Cup of Coconut oil
1 tsp Vitamin E oil
1 tsp Jojoba Oil
¼ tsp Grapeseed oil
40 Drops Lavender Oil
Put everything in a Kitchen Aide Mixer and whip on high for 7-8 minutes. Use the whisk attachment.
For larger batches- you can get giant jars of coconut oil at Sam’s club. Containers can be found on amazon as well under beauty product containers. Other oils can be purchased on line or at Better Health. (Vitamin E oil you can find at the drug store)

This will be a fluffy whipped cream. It will harden up a bit depending on the temperature of its surroundings. This makes a great gift.

Nailed it !

 

Skincare of a beauty female feet
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This week we tackle the nails. This may be old news for some of you I know. But for others maybe not. So here we go.  I am not a huge fan of going for manicures. After you have worked in a hospital you get a bit touchy about germs and cross-contamination etc. So only for special occasions do I venture out of my isolation booth and get a manicure or pedicure. Another reason I like doing them myself if that I save a lot of money that can then be put toward other fun beauty products I find more rewarding and beneficial.
SO that said. Here are a few of my tips for doing your own mani/pedis. I often get asked “how does your manicure last so long?” I do think it’s all in the prep. Of course, it is not going to have the staying power of a shellac/gel manicure but that’s ok for me. I find those types of manicures very damaging for my thin nails, taking months for them to recover.
Step 1:

Make sure your palette is clean, smooth and prepared. Using your regular nail clippers, files, and buffing pads all help to get the nail ready. You all know this drill. What I like to do to prior to a mani, is the night before I soak my nails in olive oil or use my homemade cuticle/nail balm. This really moisturizes my nails and cuticles and then it allows the polish to go on better. You can use coconut oil on your cuticles/nails too which really helps to soften them. A great nail oil is Solar oil.

cuticle oil
Step 2:

Base coat— The best base coat I have found is China Glaze- Strong Adhesion Base coat. One coat of this gives your nails a slight “tooth” so that the polish can adhere better and really helps your manicure to last.

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Step 3:

Good quality polish. Yes there are differences in polishes. Brands like OPI, Essie, China Glaze are great quality. But there are some drugstore brands like Loreal that make a nice polish. Always use two coats and make sure to get those edges so that you don’t get chips.
Step 4:

Top coat: The absolute best top coat I have found is “Seche Vite”. This gives you the look of a gel manicure and will make your manicure last. This polish tends to shrink when dry, so get as close to the edges of your nails as you can. This top coat also is great if you do nail art and will smooth out any waviness in the polish from your art design, stickers etc.
Step 5: Wear gloves for washing dishes. The best thing you can do to keep your manicure lasting longer is avoid soaking hands in water and keep oils away from the edges. Oil causes polish to lift.

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Rough Heels?
Some of you may already use this or have had it used on you at a salon but this is really the best way to get rid of the dreaded “Hoof” heel. I have used all the cool hand held motorized callous buffing tools. And the sandpaper hand held callous file/removers. But by far the microplane cheese grater works the best. You can purchase these anywhere there are kitchen tools. It will last forever (the other foot devices all require replacement heads etc.) Be careful, these can be sharp. I find that using it on dry skin works the best. Use it to get off the hard callous and then use your sandpaper foot file to smooth it out to a fine finish. YOU will be shocked at how much stuff comes off. Be sure not to go too deep or you will have sensitive feet for a while. Moisturize when done and you will have the prettiest Pilates feet in class.

grater
Maintenance: Want to keep things looking nice longer? Pop on another layer of top coat 2 days after your manicure. Also make sure to keep cuticles moisturized and skin soft. Keep the oils to the perimeter of the nails to avoid oil seeping under polish.
Enjoy these tips and let me know how they work for you.

Make-up Problem Solvers

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So continuing on with our Pilates Beauties- Series Week 3. I think its time for my secret tips to help with common problems that all of us girls struggle with.
After being a glam-life girl for a while now, I have found several items that help to solve problems that we all experience. Does your foundation breakdown during the day, eye shadow crease, do you have large pores, dark under eye circle or get goopy globs in the corners of your mouth with lip gloss? Many of these problems can be solved by using the right prep and the right products. Sometimes though it is just trial and error until you find the right product for your skin type. Here are a few of my holy grail items that I have to have to keep my glam going all day- EVEN while doing Pilates. Don’t judge- I do like to look pretty while working out.
1. Face Primer– First things first. Just like your walls you must prime your face. Face primers go on after you moisturize. They help to keep your foundation IN PLACE all day, without breaking down. Apply your moisturizer let set and then you can apply your primer. Usually you should let that set too for a couple minutes. I have tested MANY of these primers to help deal with my oily T- zone problem. There are sooooo many to choose from when you go into the store- oil control, brightening, color correcting (for redness). You may have to test a few. Ask for samples. The ones I have found that work great are the Smash box Photo Finish Foundation Primer
(available at Ulta and Sephora) and the Boots No 7 Photo Fix Wrinkle Filler and Primer (available at Target and Ulta). These both work great to keep make up fresh all day. There are also spray primers. A highly recommended one by make-up artists is Skindinavia Make- up primer spray (available on line). It’s a bit pricier but it works. So if you have a wedding or special event you need to go to and have your face last all day, it’s worth the investment.

primer

2. Eye Primer– SO just like your face you need to prime those lids. Eye shadow primer does a few things- smooths out your lids (if crepey lids are a problem), allows your shadows to go on with full color payoff, and keeps your eyeshadow from creasing all day. My favorites are Urban Decay Primer Potion. I use the anti-aging one or sometimes a tinted one called Eden. Eden hides blue veins if you have those. I also like the Tarte Clean Slate 360 Creaseless 12 hour Smoothing Eye primer. Both can be found at Ulta and Sephora. Since beginning to use these years ago I absolutely cannot live without them. Your eyeshadow will stay, and won’t budge all day. I even got dipped in the ocean while para-sailing in the Caribbean and my shadow was still ON.

eyeprimer
3. Bye Bye Under-Eye (by IT Cosmetics) – Do you have dark circles under your eyes, age spots, scars? This stuff is amazing!! You can even hide tattoos with it. You only need a TINY, and I mean TINY bit of this to conceal any redness, blueness, or darkness anywhere on your face. I used it,after having a spot removed on my face, to hide post-surgery redness and it worked like a dream. This product has won many awards by the beauty magazines for how good it works. Use a brush to dab on and then you can either pat in with your finger or beauty blender sponge. Set with a light finishing powder. You can get this at Ulta or my preference QVC. At QVC it will come with the brush which is a huge bonus.

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4. BUXOM Lip gloss– I love lip gloss but hate STICKY lip gloss that clumps in the corners of your mouth after talking for a bit. You’ve been there right? I usually will use a lipstick and put a bit of gloss in the center of my lip for a highlight. My favorite gloss, and it happens to be a plumping formula, is by Buxom. These lip-glosses are available at Ulta and Sephora and are great! I talk A LOT in a class and it keeps my lips moisturized and never leaves me feeling dry. You will get a slight tingling sensation when you apply, that’s the plumping happening. Give them a try. I think you’ll like them and there are TONS of colors to choose from. I’ve tried others but always go back to these.

Buxom-Time-to-Shine-Gloss1

5. Bye Bye Pores— As we age many of us will begin to notice our pores getting larger. This product from IT Cosmetics is a great finishing powder and also causes pores to disappear. It comes in a loose formula and a pressed (to take with you) The best way to apply a finishing powder is with a puff. I know – you’re thinking WHAT? Not a brush? Try it. Use a small bit of powder on a puff and press/roll it into your problem areas. This is available at Ulta and QVC or the IT cosmetics website.

byebyepores

6. Finishing Spray– Okay so you did all this beautiful make-up application. Now what? Your last step. A finishing spray. Much like the primers this last step helps lock in your foundation, powder and blushes for the long run. I have found 2 that work amazing. Urban Decay- All Nighter ( available at Ulta and Sephora) and Skindinavia- Finishing spray ( available on line) I don’t always use these sprays, but if I have a day when I know I do not have time for touch ups or I will be at a special event, I will use them.

allnighter

7. Rose water spray– An alternative to the finishing spray could be a Rose Water spray. This is not only refreshing but will keep your skin looking dewy. If you’ve over done it with the powder, give yourself a spritz and it will make your powder melt into your skin and look natural again. When traveling, I carry a small bottle of this on the plane with me to mist my face and refresh my makeup. It also smells great and makes you feel like you just cleansed.
You can find Rose water sprays at Whole Foods, Better Health, and on line. Buy smaller containers at the drugstore for your purse and just fill.

rose water

SKINCARE…A Ba-zillion Dollar Industry

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You’re Beautiful !

I have to admit it….. I’m a skincare junkie. I have tried hundreds maybe more skincare products and always perk up and pay attention when any new product claims to be the fountain of youth. I will buy the snake oil- yes sir. But over the years of doing a lot of research into the science behind skin care and what really works and what doesn’t I have, for myself, settled on some products that I have truly seen results with. Now just a disclaimer—I am not an esthetician, I am not a dermatologist. I am just an average woman who likes to see results and these products have worked for me, they may or may not work for you. SO don’t hold me responsible if you don’t look 20 by next week. Oh and get some snacks and refreshments this is gonna be a long blog.

Microdermabrasion treatments
MICRODERMABRASION-also known as Microderm, is a cosmetic procedure used to remove the top layer of sun-damaged and dead skin cells and leaving behind a healthier, younger looking skin. This is an exfoliating treatment (that can be done at a spa or home) of the outer-most layer of your skin. What does it do?
1. Rejuvenates sun damaged skin – The sun can do a number on your skin if you were like me as a child and never wore sunscreen, causing sun spots, wrinkles and enlarge pores.
2. Eases age spots – Microderm is like giving your skin cells a pep talk, stimulating new cells to replace the damaged ones as you watch your age spots — which is actually caused by sun damage that can strike at any age – fade into the sunset.
3. Painless – This is a very comfortable and relaxing treatment. SO needles.
4. Improves the look of fine lines and wrinkles – Regardless of your age, exposing your skin to UV rays is like begging lines and wrinkles to riddle your face regardless of your age. However, microderm can step in and soften those creases and turn back the clock on aging.
5. Works quickly – Also dubbed a lunchtime procedure, microdermabrasion is a fast technique with immediate results – and with little to no downtime to force you to hide your face from your fans or your friends. Watch for Groupons, that’s how I first tried a session. You get a series of 3 to start and then you can schedule monthly visits to continue.
6. Makes other cosmetic procedures work better – Microderm can be combined with other procedures such as chemical peels to rejuvenate your complexion. It also helps makes it a piece of cake for topical products to penetrate through the surface layer.
7. Helps makeup look smoother – By ridding your complexion of dead skin cells and smoothing fine lines and wrinkles, microdermabrasion lets your makeup glide on for a flawless finish.
8. Gives acne treatment the advantage – Microderm opens up clogged pores that lead to acne, helping to get rid of the junk and leaving cleaner, smoother skin behind. It also opens the door for topical anti-acne treatments, making it easier for medication to penetrate the skin.
9. Improves acne scars – Softening the top layer of your skin with microderm can smooth very superficial acne scars by removing the skin’s dead cells on the surface of your skin and improving the smoothness and texture of your mug.
10. Shrinks pores – Enlarged pores aren’t a pretty sight, but luckily this affordable Tinsel Town favorite will tighten enlarged pores and get your complexion paparazzi-ready
11. At home option: I went for salon microderm for about 2 years. It helped significantly with a scar I had after some surgery. Then I decided to test one of the at home microderms. I have had very good success with mine and have received the same salon results with the diamond tips. My unit is no longer available but there are others out there. Get them from somewhere where you can try and return if you are not happy. That’s why I always shop at QVC and HSN for these new products. You have 30 days to try and can send it back no questions asked if you don’t like it.

Lightstim

LED LIGHT THERAPY FOR WRINKLES: Instead of trying to explain this I am giving you the professional link. I have used this for 3 years now with great results. I can TELL when I do not use it. Not only does it help with fine lines and wrinkles but with under eye puffiness. Shop around for a great price. I got mine for $149 but that again was from QVC so I could try and return. http://www.lightstim.com/wrinkles/

vitC

VITAMIN C SERUM
Vitamin C is a very popular ingredient in skin care products because it is a free-radical fighter and helps produce collagen naturally. This is because the serum from vitamin C has a higher concentration of L-ascorbic acid. When starting out with a vitamin C cream, it’s a good idea to gradually increase usage by starting off with the cream that has a lower L-ascorbic acid concentration. You can start with a vitamin c serum that has a 10% concentration, and as your skin gets used to it, you can increase to a serum that has a concentration in the 15-20% range.
What does the serum do?
• Acts as an antioxidant – The process of oxidation damages the skin cells. Vitamin C serums are rich in anti-oxidants that repair and renew the cells and give the skin a healthier look.
• Helps produce collagen – Collagen binds the cells of our body. Vitamin C serum stimulates the synthesis of collagen in the skin which will give you a tighter, firmer and less sagged feel. It is a good first-step solution to treat the onset of wrinkles.
• Restores and regenerates – Vitamin C attacks the free radicals in your body and does some hardcore damage management. If you have any acne scars left from your previous breakout, you’ll find them fading with regular application.
• Protects you from the sun – Getting overexposed to the sun can cause hyperpigmentation and sun spotting. A vitamin C serTHum will counteract any harmful effect of the sun and also decrease the chances of skin cancer by thickening the dermis layer. But it is important to note that a vitamin c serum cannot replace your sunscreen. A sunscreen provides the much needed SPF protection by shielding the outer layer of the skin while the vitamin c serum acts as a sun barrier from within the skin. You should apply the sunscreen as well as the vitamin C serum before going outside for prolonged periods of time.
How to apply it.
After you’ve chosen a vitamin C serum, it is important that you use it right. Correct method of application will definitely increase the effectiveness of the cream.
• Dampen your face with water and start by applying the serum to your face and neck.
• Let it dry for some time and then apply a moisturizer, if possible use one with a sunscreen in it. It is important that you use the serum before moisturizing and not after. This is because the serum is easily absorbed into the skin, while moisturizers work on the surface. If you use the moisturizer first, your skin will not be able to absorb the vitamin c serum.
• Vitamin C serums are oil free preparations that are perfect for balancing oily skin by exfoliating naturally. Because of its exfoliating properties, it is a good idea to follow up a vitamin c serum application with a moisturizer, especially if you have sensitive skin.
Lastly, after purchasing the serum, it’s a good idea to keep it refrigerated. This will keep the serum from oxidizing too quickly, and will give you a better result for the price. I get my favorite one that is a great price from TIMELESS SKINCARE. http://www.timelessha.com/20-vitamin-c-e-ferulic-acid-serum-1-oz/

argan
ARGAN OIL
I have been using argan oil for years now. The brand I prefer is by JOSIE MARAN. It is available on QVC, Sephora and the Jose Maran website. It really helps to restore moisture and plumpness to dry skin. Again there are so many benefits that you should really read up on it and decide if this is for you. My favorite products are the Pure oil itself and the Josie Maran Argan oil Body Butter. Your skin with be soft, and smooth for HOURS. Even in the winter. Read up on all the uses.
http://arganoilworld.com.au/10-argan-oil-benefits-for-hair-and-skin/

Paulas choice

RETINOL
Retinol or Retin A is the gold standard of wrinkle repair. There is 30 years of science behind it. You want to see wrinkles change you need this. You can get a prescription strength Retin A from your dermatologist or you can use Retinol a weaker strength that can be purchased over the counter and can be found in varying strengths from many beauty brands. I chose Retinol since I have sensitive skin and Retin A was too harsh for me. Both Retin A and Retinol require a careful and committed weaning in process. I use Paula’s Choice brand. This is one of the strongest ones you can find on the market and has a gentler delivery system. That said, I still had to let my skin get used to it over the course of a month- Using one night a week, then twice a week, then 3 times etc. until I did not notice any redness or irritation. If you use too much or get too anxious you WILL see redness and peeling. This can vary from person to person. It is a commitment so be ready. It’s worth it – you will see results. Here’s a video from Paula’s choice on this product and how Retinol works. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2B0hBiE-vI
Here is the FAQ’s video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQgUzcrjW9s

cccream_fair_main
CC CREAM
So once you use all this great stuff to get rid of the skin damage you MUST protect yourself from further damage. Sunscreen is a must (especially if using Retinol). Cerave skin care lotions are what I use AM and PM. They are affordable and are highly recommended by dermatologists. I use a CC CREAM moisturizer / foundation during the day that is truly amazing. Great coverage and has an SPF 50. Apply with your beauty sponge or brush and set with a light translucent powder. It is by IT COSMETICS and I get it from either QVC (supersize with the brush, a major deal) or from Ulta. Read up on the product info: http://www.itcosmetics.com/your-skin-but-bettertm-cc-cream-with-spf-50

PILATES BEAUTY SERIES

INTRODUCTION

During this 7 –week series on BEAUTY we will be discussing many different aspects of taking care of yourself on the outside. We have been and are consistently focused in Pilates on the inside- the bones, the muscles, fascia, posture and the systems. Now it’s time to see how we can up our game on the outside. Since I have a lot to say, I figured I would write it down and then just do a quick overview in class. I welcome ANY and ALL contributions on items that have worked for you.

“TOOLS I CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT”

There is an arsenal of tools out there for maintaining your beauty and youthful appearance. Lord knows I have tried them all or at least most of them. Some have been life savers some have been a waste of my hard earned cash. Here I’ve compiled a list of items that I feel I have to have to keep me looking and feeling great- my holy grails.

1. Silk pillowcases– ok, I know I sound like a princess here but these have really been a huge help with several things:
 It helps you to keep your hair smooth and untangled while you sleep. I actually find that my hair is smoother the 2nd day after washing when I sleep on these pillowcases and you don’t get crazy kinks and rooster tails.
 These pillowcases keep you cool all night. No sweaty faces.
 They don’t absorb all your costly anti-aging creams like cotton does.
 They help to eliminate sleep creases and help reduce wrinkles. If you are a side sleeper this is important. Just a warning. When you go to buy them at a store you may get steered to the satin sheet section. Do not buy satin! I’ve done that. You will sweat all night. Your face will stick to the pillowcase. You need to get 100% silk. You can find these on Amazon or at SoftSurroundings.com on-line. They are a tad costly but well worth it. They machine wash and then you hang dry. They do last a long time! http://www.softsurroundings.com/P/Silk_Pillowcase

Pillow-On-Bed

2. Great make-up brushes– If you are a painter you know the importance of good brushes. Each brush has a purpose and the size and bristles are key to a great painting. Now your canvas is your face. Use the right brush for the eyes and for the face and your makeup can look flawless. You will get the products you to work at their best. There are many brands out there, and you can find some that fit your budget. (beware of the cheap sets at target, Walmart, Costco etc.) some of my favorite brands ( and I’ve tried many) are “It Cosmetic” brushes available at Ulta. These are amazing quality and do not shed. They wash up very well and last.
A more budget friendly version is the “Real Technique” brushes-available at Ulta, Walgreens, and Meijers. Clean your brushes regularly too. Use a brush cleaner like Cinema Secrets (http://www.amazon.com/Cinema-Secrets-Brush-Cleaner-32oz/dp/B002HMYF8W ) antibacterial soap or baby shampoo.

3. Beauty Blender– So you don’t care for using brushes to apply foundation? Try a Beauty Blender sponge (http://www.sephora.com/beautyblender-P228913 ) This amazing sponge will give you flawless application. You use it DAMP. That’s a must. Don’t try to use it dry. It won’t give you the same finish. Wet and then press in a hand towel. NO water should come out when you are ready to use it. It’s pricey -$20 for a sponge and all the makeup artists use them. DO NOT BE FOOLED. This sponge is patented and is NOT the same as all the cheap versions out there. If you want a dupe for beauty blender, one that is more budget friendly, try the “Real Techniques” sponge. I use this one. It works exactly the same to me (and a lot of the beauty gurus agree) and is only $6.99. http://www.ulta.com/ulta/browse/productDetail.jsp?productId=xlsImpprod5960824&skuId=2265607&CPMID=CSBING&CAWELAID=330000200000039737&catargetid=330000200000529015&CADEVICE=c
To clean these use Dove soap bar. I’ve tried everything to clean these so they aren’t stained and the soap that works the best is Dove bar. Rub the soap in with warm water and squeeze out the excess foundation and water.

4. Clarisonic– This hand held facial cleaner is the best! I do not feel like my face is clean without it. It’s an investment but will last a long time. I purchased mine from QVC. I’ve had mine for years with no problems. They come in a large version that you can use on your face and body and a smaller version the MIA that is easy to travel with. You just replace the brush heads every 3 months. You can get these at Ulta, Sephora.
The charge lasts for weeks. It gently yet deeply cleanses pores without abrasion or harsh chemicals, removing six times more makeup than manual cleansing so that products absorb better and your skin is more receptive to skincare ingredients. With regular daily use, it reduces dry skin patches, oily areas and blemishes and immediately leaves skin feeling and looking smoother. It’s even waterproof so you can use it in the shower.

So let me know if you use any of these products or if you have others that I NEED to know about. Coming up in the future weeks– Nails, Skin care and more. I can’t wait to share with you.

KINESIO WHAT?

http://www.infinityhealth.org

IMG_2970

WHAT IS KINESIO-TAPING?

Kinesio-tape or KT tape -is a thin, stretchy, elastic cotton strip with an acrylic adhesive and can benefit a wide variety of musculoskeletal and sports injuries, plus inflammatory conditions.

It is applied along muscles, ligaments and tendons ( soft tissue) to provide lightweight, external support that helps you remain active while recovering from injuries. It creates neuromuscular feedback ( called proprioception) that inhibits (relaxes) or facilitates stronger firing of muscles and tendons. This feedback creates support elements without the bulk and restriction commonly associated with wraps and heavy bracing.

Kinesio- is almost identical to human skin in both thickness and elasticity, which allows it to be worn without binding, constricting or restriction of your movement.

Kinesio- tape is used for treating athletic injuries and a variety of physical disorders. For the first decade after its introduction practitioners in Japan were the main users of the therapeutic kinesiology tape. By 1988 the tape had been adopted by Japanese Olympic and professional athletes before spreading across the world.

You would have noticed that more and more professional athletes use kinesio- taping to improve their sporting performance, prevent injury and allow them to return to sport quicker after injury.

HOW IS KINESIO-TAPE DIFFERENT THAN FROM CONVENTIONAL TAPING?

Kinesio- tape differs from other types of sport tape in both form and function. Most types of tape are non-elastic, and are wrapped tightly around an injured joint or muscle to provide rigid support and restrict movement. They can only be worn for short periods of time, after which they must be removed to restore movement and circulation. Kinesio- tape, on the other hand, has unique elastic properties that allow it to provide dynamic support, protecting muscles and/or joints, while still allowing a safe and functional range of motion. Rather than being wrapped completely around injured joints or muscle groups, kinesio- tape is applied directly over and/or around the periphery of these areas. This non-restrictive type of taping allows most applications to be worn for 4-7 days, allowing therapeutic benefits to accumulate 24/7 for the entire time they’re worn.

Kinesiology tape can be worn during intense exercise, showering, bathing or swimming, and dries quickly after a quick pat with a towel.

 

WHAT CAN KINESIO-TAPE HELP WITH?

Kinesiology Tape May Help..

Acute Soft Tissue Injuries

  • Muscle Strains 
  • Ligament sprains
  • Bruising

Muscle Facilitation 

  • Muscle Weakness
  • Hypotonia – Low Muscle Tone

Joint Proprioception Retraining

  • Joint Alignment and tracking
  • Joint instability or Hypermobility
  • Poor posture: Round Shoulders, Slouched Spine
  • Scapular Instability

Bone Injuries

  • Post-fracture support
  • Shin Splints

Tendonopathies

  • Tendonitis
  • Tendonosis
  • Plantar Fasciitis

Swelling and Edema 

  • Lymphoedema
  • Joint Swelling

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF KINESIO-TAPING?

Kinesio-tape has a vast array of therapeutic benefits. Because kinesio- taping can usually be left on for several days or up to a week, these therapeutic benefits are available to the injured area 24 hours a day, significantly accelerating the healing process from trauma, injuries and inflammatory conditions.

Pain Relief via Structural Support for Weak or Injured Body Parts

Basically it’s flexible elastic tape that moves with your body. This provides support to your body parts without the tape slipping. You don’t need an underwrap tape with this tape.

By supporting your body part kinesio- tape is able to provide you with pain relief and muscular support to help control body parts affected by muscle inhibition.

Muscle Support

As previously mentioned, your muscle strength may be assisted by kinesio- tape via physical assistance and tactile feedback through the skin ie: proprioception  boost. This phenomenon may assist you to enhance your performance and move more freely thus aiding in healing.

Swelling Reduction

Kinesio-tape provides a passive lift to your skin via its elastic properties. This vacuum effect allows your lymphatic and venous drainage systems to drain in swollen or bruised tissue quicker than without the kinesio-tape.

It is also thought that this same principle can assist the removal of exercise byproducts like lactic acid that may contribute to post-exercise soreness eg delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).

HOW DO I GET TAPED?

Visit a physical therapist or trainer that has knowledge of training in kinesio-taping. You will be evaluated and the best taping technique determined for you or if taping is right for your condition. After you are taped then you can continue with your activites, training or advice given by your therapist. You may still have to ice, elevate or even limit training somewhat depending on your injury. You will wear the tape for a 4-7 days ( weather conditions like humidity may limit the wearing time) then remove. Re-taping can be done after a few days if condition is still improving and you need longer treatment.

If you are interested in getting assessed for kinesio-taping, schedule time with me and we can tape you up !

This Little Piggy …….

this-little-piggy

http://www.infinityhealth.org

This month’s topic and focus in this session of Pilates is foot health.  Do your little piggies go wee wee AHHHHH all the way home? If so read on and then come to classes or schedule a foot private session to learn valuable exercises to help with your foot pain or alignment problems.

Many changes occur in the feet as we go through life’s journey.  Many use, overuse or misuse problems can cause changes in the shape of the foot, size and location of the fat pads on the bottom of the feet, the integrity of the skin and toenails, the health of the foot bones, range of motion of the joints, circulation and also the sensation of the feet.  Good foot health is essential to your quality of movement and of life. Many foot problems can be avoided by proper prevention and early intervention.

Do you have knee, hip and low back problems that you haven’t been able to figure out the cause of ? Maybe looking down at your feet you may discover the source !

Common foot disorders:

  • Hallux valgus– aka bunions. This is where the big toe drifts toward the other toes. A bunion may form on the outside edge of the knuckle of the big toe and occasionally the big toe may overlap the other toes.  Bunions can also form on the outer side of the foot called bunionettes or tailors bunions, where the pinky toe can drift toward the other toes.
  • Deformities of the lesser toes– In hammer toe, the middle joint of the toe sticks up to form a painful callous on top of the joint due to friction and pressure with the shoe.
  • Degenerative joint diseases such as osteoarthritis– joint pain, weight-bearing, and joint tenderness with pressure may interfere with normal walking.
  • Circulatory changes related to diabetes and vascular diseases such as arteriosclerosis narrowing of the blood vessels can affect the integrity of the skin and underlying soft tissues and compromise healing of open wounds.

Foot problems are often related to footwear, but in our society, as popular as this idea is, going barefoot is not a viable option in my opinion. We wear shoes for foot protection, sanitation , and fashion. Even in good, supportive shoes, our feet suffer because the muscles weaken from lack of use. On the other hand, shoes that do not adequately support the foot contribute to foot deformities and pain by : causing muscle weakness from disuse and allowing  supportive ligaments of the foot to stretch, permanently affecting the foot’s structure.

Fashion, especially for women, is a major culprit. Narrow, pointed toes of shoes squish toes together, causing overlapping, pressure points, and decreased circulation. High heels further compromise the toes, decrease ankle stability, and force the ball of the foot to bear an excessive proportion of the body’s weight.  In addition , long-term wearing of high heels can cause permanent shortening of the heel cord, the toe extensor muscles on the top of the foot, and supportive structures in the arch. Combined, these changes significantly alter the structure and functional capacity of the foot.

When the structure of the foot  has changed this change affects the structures  above. The forces that travel up your leg when you walk will travel differently up the leg and can cause problems at the knee, hip and low back. So  taking care of your feet can help protect other areas of your body as well.

Proper conservative foot care is essential to prevent disuse and dysfunction that can eventually lead to debilitating foot problems. To maintain your healthy feet follow these steps:

  1. Check your feet: Look for changes in skin, color,  shape/ position of joints, calluses.  See a podiatrist if something doesn’t look right, especially if you have pain.
  2. Maintain proper weight:  This relieves a lifetime of pressure on your feet.
  3. Wear well-fitting shoes: Over a lifetime, shoe size usually changes. Adjust accordingly. Wearing heels occasionally is ok but make sure the toe box is wide enough so that toes are not squished.
  4. Make sure to exercise your feet: walking,  flexibility exercises, massage and resistive exercises, all can help decrease stiffness, decrease pain, improve joint motion, release tight tissues and help to realign foot structure.

Build exercises for your feet into your daily routine. It’s not that hard. Most exercises can be done while putting  moisturizer on your feet or while sitting at your desk.

The long-term health of your feet is so important and prevention is key. So start now.  Foot exercises on You Tube are many or you can come to a Pilates class or private session to get your own feet assessed and learn what exercises are best for you.  Read back in this blog for my article on tennis ball stretches to start your own foot exercise routine.

Applying My Pilates Principles to Post-Op Laparoscopic Hysterectomy

 www.infinityhealth.org

FREEDOM pic

As a physical therapist (PT) and certified Pilates instructor (CPI) I am routinely giving advice to my clients as to how to prepare and how to recover from surgery.  My expertise has always been very orthopedically centered. So if you have a knee replacement, shoulder surgery, back or neck surgery, or pain in any of these areas I can help.  I can with confidence apply my knowledge of PT and also Pilates training to give you a program or advice on how to manage your situation and your healing.  However, this female abdominal surgery area was totally new to me. You may be having the laparoscopic approach with punctures and small incision or a full open hysterectomy, but in either case, here’s how my fitness knowledge has benefited me along the way with my experience and recovery.

Of course, in my Pilates classes I focus on all the Pilates principles: relaxation, concentration, control, centering, fluidity, precision, breathing and endurance. What I am constantly reminded of is that in just regular activities of daily living  so many of  these Pilates principles can be applied to most any situation, giving you better control and mastery over your body. This applies to pre-op and post- op situations too!

Recently I underwent a supracervical hysterectomy done laproscopically.  I am  very healthy,  I exercise regularly, teach Pilates classes and private training, eat clean, take supplements, meditate etc. but the issues that I suffered from ( large fibroid, heavy periods and to my surprise endometriosis) were not affected by my healthy lifestyle so medical intervention was a MUST.   I am not alone in this, since many women suffer as I did.

What I was surprised to find is that I was able to take what I have been teaching to my clients for so many years and apply them post- operatively.  I hear myself preaching to my clients about how all energy comes from your center and how the abdominals play a role in all movement. This hits home, and fast, once you have an abdominal incision. I was unpleasantly surprised how much discomfort I had with just the smallest of movements- like drying my hair or even reaching for my water bottle.  So with THAT said, how did I apply my Pilates principles to my recovery? Here’s a list.

  1. Breathing:  One of the biggest Pilates principles is the breath.  When you have pain you tend to hold your breath. So first thing I did was to breathe, using my inhale through the nose, exhale through the mouth- Pilates breath.  This helped significantly during simple activities like resting and most importantly when I moved.  By breathing this way you can decrease your intra-abdominal pressure, which can put strain on your incisions, causing increased pain.  So breathe!! Controlled breathing exercises to reduce pain and relax are available on iTunes.
  2. Relaxation: As I mentioned above, I meditate. I NEED to meditate on a regular basis to help keep my thoughts focused and my emotions in check.  Any perimenopausal or menopausal woman can benefit immensely from meditating on a regular basis. But when you have pain, this is one of the BEST pain relieving activities you can do. It calms your nervous system down, which is on high alert at this point, it calms your breathing, decreases blood pressure and heart rate, and decreases the tension you are holding in your muscles due to pain. You can even decrease tension in incision areas with focused meditation.  Healing meditations are my favorite.  You focus your thoughts on blood flow to the area and actual healing of cells.  In my experience with PT I have found that those clients who meditate to help with healing rehab much quicker than those who do not.  Where do you get healing meditations?  ITunes- has a plethora of healing meditations. “The Soul of Healing Mediations” by Deepak Chopra and “Journey into Stillness” by Ramdesh Kaur are two of my favorites.
  3. Concentration and Control: Now we are getting into the more movement part of your healing.  Once you are feeling like getting up and moving around, your pain is managed, and you are off the narcotics you can start this.  Movement heals- we know that. GONE are the days of bed rest when we used to have people lying on their backs for days on end.  Getting up and moving helps with fluid flow, decreases blood clot risk, decreases stiffness in your joints, back etc.  BUT it can still be painful.  Getting up out of bed and going up and down stairs can just plain hurt. This is where your concentration comes in handy.   If you have ever taken a Pilates class, you should hear your instructor reminding you to focus on your moves, coordinate them with your breath, be precise and controlled in your intention to move.  You can do this with early post –op movement too.  Concentrate on your good spinal alignment, that will decrease pressure on incisions, be aware of your surroundings, and placement of limbs. All of this can help with not only safety but with pain control.
  4. Centering:   About  5 day post-op mark is the time to help those deep core muscles reactivate.  All movement stems from your center.  If you have done Pilates you know how long it took you to feel the connection of those deep abdominal muscles.  Well, here you are again taking baby steps. When a muscle is disrupted during a surgery it can be a little sleepy getting started.  Many people have a sleepy bladder after surgery and the pelvic floor exercises can help with that.

So what to do? There are two exercises – 1. Breathing with transversus abdominus contractions and 2. Pelvic floor exercises.  First – set your phone with an alarm to ring a reminder 3 times a day.  Your first exercises will be pelvic floor.  You can sit, lay or stand.  Inhale and as you exhale draw up the pelvic floor muscles (Kegel) and hold for a long count of 10.  Relax. Then perform 10 quick flicks of the pelvic floor as if lifting and lowering it quickly.  Next, you can sit, stand or lay.  Place your hands on your lower waist, near the pelvic crests (hip bones). Inhale and as you exhale, gently draw in your waist, pulling your belly button to your spine.  This may cause a small pulling on your incision but go slowly and only do as tight of a contraction as is comfortable.  As you do these daily you will find those muscles waking up again.  You can also perform this exercise while walking- which is part of your post- op care.  Wait until you get full clearance from your doctor and then return to your Pilates classes or schedule private sessions to gradually get you ramped up to full power. Since you will most definitely have physical activity restrictions for 4-6 weeks post-op, these small isometric exercises are safe and can help you when you do start up with full activity again.

Note on the sleepy bladder:  If you are having problems urinating or getting the flow of urination going here is a technique from PT you can use to help.  This brushing technique we use in PT is to get a muscle stimulated into a better contraction.  Gently (using a pad of toilet paper) swipe the urethra a few times. This can stimulate the muscles and cause urination to start much less hesitantly.

Now I would be remiss as a PT if I did not talk about a few things I think you need to have at home pre-op to make post –op more comfortable.  Here’s my list:

  1. Loose, drawstring pants – to eliminate any pressure on the lower belly. Your Lululemon yoga pants will be too constricting.
  2. A wedge or large propping pillow- Sleeping the first couple of nights on your back slightly propped can help you feel better since rolling or sidelying is not comfortable
  3. A firm pillow or pillow pet ( J) for bracing your incisions when you cough or good grief-sneeze.
  4. Large water bottle for beside- since you will be thirsty from the pain meds and anesthesia.
  5. Heating pad or cold pack- for lower abdominal incision pain. Remember only 20 mins on at a time.
  6. A small basket- now don’t laugh but this was a huge help. With all my electronic devices; phone, iPad, Kindle, earbuds, TV remotes, pill bottles, etc. it was easier to carry my “stuff” around or move it that way, instead of dropping it. Cuz who wants to bend down and pick stuff up? And you know Murphy’s law right?

I hope this helps you after your surgery. I have always found that the best tips I get are from my clients who tell me their war stories. So I hope my war story has helped you.   Most importantly listen to your body, and listen to your doctors.  They know what is best for your specific situation!  Speedy recovery and Pilates on – once you are all healed up.

Want to get started on your Pilates journey?  Visit www.infinityhealth.org for more information or contact me with your questions at infinityhealth@comcast.net.

By Donna Gambino, Licensed Physical Therapist, Certified Pilates Instructor and fitness author.