Pilates Breakdown: Applying Alignment in the Kitchen

Does your back ever ache after spending hours in the kitchen? I know mine does especially after doing the dishes. Yikes! The holidays are coming up and sometimes that means spending more time in the kitchen. It had me thinking — There has to be better ways for us to move in the kitchen! After all, I know of many people who spend much of their time in the kitchen, so I wanted to make sure I had all of my loved one’s back (pun intended) with this breakdown.

By Megan Goddard, Pilates Instructor

OVERVIEW

Lifting from the back with a round spine isn’t always the best idea. Doing so can lead to over stretched ligaments. It can also cause the muscles involved to lose control over the spine. With a round spine, comes a lot of compression in front of the vertebrae which can lead to disc bulges and muscle strain overtime.

Osteoporosis is a common condition where the bone becomes weak and brittle. As we age, we lose bone density, but the good news is that we have the ability to prevent fractures! When we learn how to move with our bones in proper alignment, the rest of the body will thank us. The Pilates method gently pulls on the bones so osteoblasts can go inside to build stronger bones. I’ve gathered tips from the National Osteoporosis Foundation to bring you a mini series of how we move better in the kitchen for prevention!

BAKING AND ROASTING

Naturally when we bend down to take our food in and out of the oven, we tend to round our back. Sometimes our legs are straight and without realizing it, some may stand with locked knees.

Demonstrating how we tend to bend over. Ouch!

Doing so can cause an achy back and overstretched tissues. There are round back variations in Pilates, but one without intention can cause wear and tear to the vertebral column overtime. Side note: Someone with Osteoporosis should never work in a round spine! Instead, try working in the kitchen with a flat back. A flat back has a three point focus on the spine — head, mid back, and sacrum. The goal is to get all three points lined up.

This is more gentle on the vertebral column.

Try This:

  1. Start by rolling your shoulders down and back. You can hold this position better by pinching in between the shoulder blades.
  2. Keep the elbows close by your sides.
  3. Bend your knees.
  4. Hinge forward from the hips with a flat back and pull the belly button towards the spine. Squeeze the core to stabilize!
  5. Get as close as you can to the oven (without getting burnt of course!)
  6. Extend your arms forward to place your goodies in the oven.

* When returning back to pull the goodies out of the oven, get close to your dish pan first and then pull it towards you. Try not to hold your breath and take an exhale as you lift. Don’t forget about your long spine! 🙂

HAND WASHING DISHES

Another time we’re found rounding the spine is when we’re hand washing dishes. Naturally, we want to look down and over into the sink to see what we’re doing; however, doing so puts strain on the neck because the head is being pulled forward while putting pressure on the spine yet again.

Try This:

Now maybe you have a bigger kitchen than my little bungalow, so you can get even closer to do this over the sink better. Many sinks have cabinets below, so just open one door. You’ll want to stand tall and rest one foot down inside. Once you’re halfway through the dishes, switch the feet and shift your weight to the other side.

Be prepared for a bicep and shoulder workout! Dishes always require a little more upper body strength and holding them higher will help keep your head up so you aren’t straining your neck. I call this a 2-for-1 Pilates special!

SITTING AT THE TABLE

Sometimes we have more time to kill while we’re waiting for our food to be ready. Grab a book! Exercise the mind. The brain is certainly an important muscle. Here’s what we tend to do:

Ugh, I know. The book was just getting good! Have you ever seen Joseph Pilates do Contrology at 60 years old?!

Instead, try this:

Better! In a perfect world, my head would be pulled back and over the shoulders more. However, I’m trying to keep it a little more realistic.

I hope you found my kitchen posture series helpful! Now, I don’t expect you to have proper posture in the kitchen all of the time unless of course you have been advised by a professional. Let’s be real, many of us wouldn’t think to practice good posture in the kitchen! This blog post is simply intended to bring awareness and to help those who may be wondering why they are experiencing back pain. To learn more this week, find me on Instagram.

Happy cooking foodies!

Pilates Breakdown: The Roll Up

If you have taken any of my Pilates classes or even my Barre classes, you probably have done some sort of variation of the Roll Up. It’s certainly one of my favorite exercises for many reasons!

PURPOSE

The Roll Up is an awesome way to warm up the spine and abdominals. It teaches us about our own bodies by helping us learn about core connection and spinal articulation. This exercise helps increase strength in the abdominals and find balanced strength in the core. It also helps increase flexibility in the hamstrings if you opt for the straight leg variation. We will be lengthening and strengthening the whole way through because that is what Pilates is about!

STEPS

  1. Find a flat surface and lie down supine (on your back) like a good morning stretch. Take a big inhale through the nose to prepare and lock your heels down. *My feet are propped up to fit myself in the picture, but it also added a nice challenge for those who have been doing this for while!
  2. Bring arms (shoulder width) straight forward so that your wrists are stacked over the shoulders.
  3. Ok the juicy stuff! Begin to exhale through your mouth as you tuck your chin toward your chest. Activate the glutes by squeezing your seat together. Activate the core by tucking the pelvis under. Slowly start to “roll up” by peeling the spine off the mat vertebrae by vertebrae without using momentum. Begin scooping the abdominals by pulling the belly button in towards your spine. As you roll up, you want to create an opposition in your torso by reaching the fingertips forward as the rib cage tries to stay behind. Continue to find the height and length in your Roll Up by lifting your torso higher as your round your back!
  4. As you finish your exhale, continue to roll forward and bring your nose down toward your knees. You should feel a nice hamstring stretch at the same time.

Reverse the motion by rolling down and repeat!

MODIFICATIONS

    If you have tight hamstrings, you can execute this exercise with bent knees.
    If your core is feeling too shaky to sit all the way up, begin by sitting on top of your sit bones. Then, roll down only halfway instead.
    Props are great not only for extra challenges, but for modifications as well. If you have a small stability ball at home, you can prop it behind your lower back for extra support.

Happy rolling! I love hearing from you. Please let me know if you found this post helpful by leaving a comment below or on Instagram. Thank you!

Love, Megan