For about 20 years now I have regularly seen an older woman who I will call Sarah on her daily walk in the streets near my home. My mother occasionally has a brief neighbourly chat with her and walking is her passion and only form of exercise. Once she mentioned a painful shoulder injury she was dealing with and my Mum suggested Pilates. No, she wasn't prepared to try anything crazy like that but would increase her time spent walking. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of walking, it has so many physical and mental benefits and can be a wonderful way to keep fit, but making it your only form of body maintenance is inadequate. Having observed Sarah over the years, she is living proof of this. It's not surprising she has a shoulder injury as her posture has steadily deteriorated over the years and she is hunched forward so it is difficult for her shoulders to function efficiently. Her ankles and calf muscles have tightened considerably giving her a hobbling type gait, and that's just at a glance. I don't see her walking as much as she used to and I suspect its too much of an effort for her now.
So what should Sarah have done? She was trying to do the right thing.
Basically, she should have taken the great advice she was given and gone to Pilates to improve her posture, core, glutes and to rehabilitate her shoulder injury in conjunction with walking. As she strengthened and increased her body awareness she would have noticed she was walking more efficiently and probably for longer distances. I imagine I would still be seeing her walking the streets more comfortably and more regularly than I am now.
Our bodies are designed for a variety of movements, including spinal movements, and the more that we can incorporate these into our weekly exercise routine the more beneficial it is for maintaining optimum fitness levels. Focusing on only one type of repetitive movement such as walking, golf, tennis for example, may be your passion which is great but there are two points to consider here. Firstly, it's not going to provide all your fitness needs and secondly as you age you may not be able to sustain the sports and activities you love, so Pilates really is the solution to maintaining the best quality of life for as long as possible.
Maximize your potential & stay active with Pilates
Several of my clients have enjoyed walking/trekking holidays over the years that involve anything from 7 to 15 or more km per day through amazing picturesque locations such as Europe, Nepal, Japan and Central Australia for example which is an ideal way to really absorb the surroundings. Preparation at Pilates begins several months in advance in addition to the clients' own practice walks. In addition to the usual core and glute strengthening the focus is also on improving balance in case of falls, foot strengthening to cope with rough and uneven terrain and upper body strengthening to help with carrying a backpack. The exercises will vary depending on individual needs and will increase in intensity leading up to departure. Knowing that you are fully prepared for your walking holiday really does provide peace of mind and my clients have all returned from their trips in great shape having enjoyed a truly memorable experience. The Pilates strength preparation usually lends itself to most other activities you may want to try. Allana, who was featured in one of my early Blog posts described how she trekked for 4 hours and then comfortably kayaked for another 2 hours without suffering any soreness the next day despite not kayaking on a regular basis. At 59 years young, Pilates has really allowed Allana to pursue and enjoy her passion for trekking and will do so for many years to come. If only Sarah had taken up Pilates she too would be experiencing the life-changing benefits it provides and I'm certain I would be seeing her walking confidently past my house on a daily basis as she did in the past. If you haven't already signed up for the free 10-day trial, do it now and start experiencing the numerous benefits Pilates provides.
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