It is wonderful that we have a big extended PhysioPilates family stretching far from Cambridge. Since I started this blog & newsletter I have had lovely emails from pupils moved to Shropshire, Scotland and even Portugal. Also feeling proud that our Cambridge classes have inspired several career moves – we can count 6 pupils turned instructors since 2002!
Last week I had a ‘phone coffee’ with Claire Sharp of Wight Pilates.
Claire’s secret history is that she was one of my first ever pupils and a stalwart attender of the Weds 8.15pm at Little Shelford. Always first on her mat, keeping me on time – she never missed a class EVER – even when the house behind hers was on FIRE!! Previously an awesome Occupational Therapist and Therapies manager for the Cambridge NHS – now reincarnated as a chilled out, beach walking, island loving Pilates Instructor.
Here she is with envious pictures of the Isle of Wight & lots of good wishes to her old class!
I am off to Northumberland with my crew for half term. L-O-N-G car journey. We ended up talking about all the things we do inspired by our PT and OT backgrounds, when we travel by car. With Claire’s background as an OT, but also a longstanding difficult back, she had lots of tips and gems which she is very happy for me to share here.
# 1 Warm up and cool down like any other exercise. Warm up before your car journey, stretch and move during your journey and stretch and move (cool down) after your car journey. Put your spine through all its movements.
#2 Take regular breaks; not only is getting off your bottom and moving around a good idea – it’s surprising how many exercises can be done in a motorway toilet and even more in the larger disabled toilet space! Think roll downs, corkscrews, side stretches, thread the needle…can be done standing with one hand against a wall.
# 3 As soon as your back starts to ache vary your seat position… even a few degrees of seat back change may make all the difference until you can stop to stretch and move properly. There are great pictures with ideas for ways to adjust your car seat in the “Driving and back pain” leaflet published by the charity, Backcare www.backcare.org.uk
#4 A small lumbar support (if the seat does not have its own adjustments) can help. The goal is to be able to sit “well” with natural curves without having to hold yourself up the whole journey. Usually you only need something small, not a large cushion. I often take off my jumper and roll it up behind me – Clare’s tip is to wear a scarf when you travel – perfect lumber roll when needed.
#5 Self heating patches and self cooling patches may help with aches and pains and help relax muscles – keep them in easy reach to activate when you need them or if the car seats have heating in them..switch on!
#6 Make the most of traffic jams or slow traffic lights to take your feet off the pedals. Do pelvic tilts in sitting, dropping your back into a slump then sitting up really tall. .Shift your body weight buttock to buttock for 5 seconds each way to relive pressure and numbness – have a bend from side to side – even a limited one will feel nice. Move your shoulders and neck. Take your hands off the wheel, wiggle your fingers (& toes), circle wrists & ankles and stretch arms and legs..
#7 Passenger? Take a neck support if you know you will doze off……oops…sorry driver….
#8 We are both agreed – NOTHING at your feet. Even a small bag makes you tip your feet sideways and you lose support and symmetry. Cliare varies feet up on the “slopey bit” with feet down (but never ever on the dashboard – see horrible stories on internet of injuries from airbags).
#9 AND – lesson learned too many times – avoid reaching into the back foot well, to the back seat, to the glove compartment. Much better to stop the car, get out and retrieve safely and easily whatever you need than contortions which only crick necks and strain backs.
#10 Ask the family member with the best back to load and unload the car!
Do let us know if you have tips of your own to share?
This blogpost started out as one of our Friday newsletters. Do join our mailing list (subscribe in the box top right) if you would like to join our tribe. We don’t mind at all if you don’t come to our classes. Happy to share our tips, tricks and videos with all Pilates enthusiasts!