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STABILIZE YOUR SPINE WITH LOW PRESSURE FITNESS

Eight out of ten people suffer from lower back pain at some point in their lives. Back pain is one of the main causes of seeking medical advice, But, did you know that exercise is the therapy that has shown the most evidence in treating lower back pain?

 

There are a variety of exercises which can be grouped under the label of core stability or core training. Core stability training refers to the strengthening of the trunk muscles which help to stabilize the spine. These muscles, responsible for spine stabilization, are divided into two main groups: global and local stabilization muscles.

 

  • The global and superficial stabilization system generates the major torques of movement involving the spinal erectors, the quadratus lumborum and the rectus abdominis muscles.
  • The local and deep stabilization system is responsible for providing a rigid base for movement and posture. This system includes the pelvic floor, the multifidus and the transverse abdominal muscles.

 

Different studies on exercises for core stability training have shown positive results in the areas of prevention and of treatment of lower back pain. Today, these exercise techniques have become an essential part of all rehab programs carried out in gyms, sports centers, hospitals and clinical practices.

 

One of the principal goals of core training is to locate and maintain a neutral spine position across exercises which will favor muscle co-activation and central muscular stability within the natural physiological limits of each person. Progressive and regular core training will improve motor control and patterns of muscular recruitment. Core stabilization exercises designed to reduce lumbar back pain may also aim increase spinal strength and rigidity.

 

In the initial phase of core training the main goal is to activate the local and deep stabilization system. Attention is focused on activating the muscles while keeping the back in a neutral position which will help in keeping postural balance. The most suitable positions at this early stage are lying, sitting and on all-fours. Two of the best beginner exercises are the bridge and all-fours.

 

Low Pressure Fitness training system has adapted these basic core stability positions and their corresponding transitions from the most basic level to the most advanced, and given them the names of Aphrodite and Gaia.

 

Learn Aphrodite and Gaia

The key aspects of  Aphrodite as Gaia are awareness of spinal elongation and the maintenance of spinal neutral position. In the learning phase of Aphrodite and Gaia, one of the most common mistakes is to perform a pelvic tilt as a reflex mechanism to protect your lumbar spine. That’s why it is essential to identify technical errors and to learn the exercises properly with a qualified LPF trainer.

 

APHRODITE

To perform Aphrodite in its basic level, lie down on your back with bent knees and ankles in dorsi-flexion. Stretch your arms with the palm facing upwards as shown in the picture. Your arms should be pressing slightly the floor and you should be trying to lengthen and stretch your arms by increasing the space between your chest and shoulders. From this position, lift your hips to draw a perfect straight line between your knees, pelvis and chest. You should hold this pose during three respiratory cycles. During the third exhalation, slowly bring your hips down and lower your back to the floor.

 

 

afrodita-lpf

The next step in Aphrodite combines the upward pelvic movement with the breathing Low Pressure Fitness technique. After the third exhalation, hold your breath, slowly expand your ribcage, and open your chest while your hips rise slowly from the floor. Once you have your back, chest and knees in perfect alignment, breathe for three respiratory cycles. Lower your hips slowly during the third exhalation.

aphrodite-lpf

GAIA

Start off on an all-fours position as shown in the image. The ankles are in dorsi-flexion with your knees in line with your pelvis and your hands in line with your shoulders. For Low Pressure Fitness first level beginners, the first step should be to learn the correct spine alignment. Your spine should be perfectly aligned, parallel with the floor.

 

Gaia-lpf

One of the challenges in this position is to keep the pelvis neutral and your neck in line with your back. For beginners, it is common to see hyperextension in the neck or pelvic tilt. Hold the position during three complete respiratory cycles, in which you will lengthen the spine by pushing your head in the opposite direction of the sacrum.

gaia-lpf

If you can hold the position successfully for several repetitions you are ready to move on to the next level of Gaia which includes the specific breathing pattern from the Low Pressure Fitness program.

 

It is always advisable to consult with a specialist before starting any exercise program for lower back pain on your own. Qualified health and exercise professionals are your best guarantee of guidance. You can find a list of all our certified Low Pressure Fitness trainers in our online directory.

 

 

Author:
Tamara Rial, PhD

HOW CAN LOW PRESSURE FITNESS BENEFIT PILATES?

In his first Law of Thermodynamics Antoine Lavoisier (1743-1794) said that matter can’t be created nor destroyed, it is only transformed. When a general law is properly stated, it will also apply to the specific. In our case, we are talking about physical exercise and recovery, where this rule certainly holds. After all, every new approach springs from the what our forebearers have said before, and in today’s fast paced world, fusion is the buzzword for any discipline.

 

In the following article we will understand how Low Pressure Fitness connects to Yoga and Pilates, emphasising the benefits of Low Pressure Fitness training. Many people practice the three or just two of them in a training combo, or else they practice them in succession, depending on their mood or the class timetables available. The three disciplines share common ground and differences in approach, focus and style.

 

Centuries after it was first developed, Yoga is still a relevant holistic training method, and after its advent in the fifties the same can be said for Pilates. More recently created, Low Pressure Fitness is a great new approach to exercise and wellness, with particular aims and features.

 

Yoga, Pilates and Low Pressure Fitness share a common goal, which can be broadly stated as regaining control of the body through awareness. They prioritise body alignment, breathing and postural fitness. Stacking the spine, engaging the core, inhaling and exhaling with control are classic cues we will find in the three disciplines. Low Pressure Fitness is a training program with an ecclectic outlook, stemming partly from Yoga and which was developed some decades after Pilates.

 

Neither of them require complex machinery or a specific place, but they might make use of simple accessories. Low Pressure Fitness includes certain props such as massage balls and wood-rollers, Pilates uses the well-known swiss ball and Yoga, elastic bands and blocks.

 

The main difference between Yoga and Pilates and Low Pressure Fitness is the spiritual component of Yoga, which the other two do not have. Yoga is generally more static than Pilates and Low Pressure Fitness. Yoga poses or assanas are held for as long as possible, excepting the continuous movement of vinyasa, a continuous flowing sequence which connects several poses, like the sun salutation (surianamaskara).

 

Pilates exercises are usually done in a specific order, one after another, and like Yoga, have colourful names to identify them, like the swan, the jack-knife or the criss-cross. They appear to be simple, but they require precision and strength. Strong emphasis is put on technique.

 

The connection between Low Pressure Fitness and Pilates is obvious, since both aim for a better management of intra-abdominal pressure. Scientific research also shows that one of the common benefits of Low Pressure Fitness and Pilates is the increase flexibility.

 

Both Pilates and Low Pressure Fitness consider local body awareness. Pilates will focus on specific areas of the body, especially the voluntary contraction of core muscles. Low Pressure Fitness will also provide the added value of another type of concentration and centralisation, which is the apnea, that activates the involuntary muscles in the pelvic floor.

 

Like Yoga and Pilates, Low Pressure Fitness belongs in the category of useful exercises to balance myofascial tensions, realign posture and improve breathing. Exercises are also sequenced from the simple to the complex, with a focus on the core muscles, the pelvic floor and breathing. Low Pressure Fitness exercises include the same patient and focused attitude as in Yoga and Pilates, but with one distinctive feature: permanent focus on decreasing pressure on pelvic area.

 

What is specific to Low Pressure Fitness is the breath-holding which allows for a wider range of motion. Exercise will often focus on working on the sagittal plane (right or left sides) of the body. As we can see in the pictures, these are probably the exercises which provide more improvements, but we also find more advanced postures targeting coronal plan and the three planes at the same time, with complete torsions of the upper body.

 

Unlike the traditional approaches to abdominal and pelvic floor exercise, which will focus on one segment of the core at a time, the Low Pressure Fitness program addresses the core to perform synergistically and as a whole.  

 

What are the benefits of Low Pressure Fitness?

 

Among its many benefits, Low Pressure Fitness is used by physiotherapists and trainers for:

  • pelvic floor restoration
  • trimming the waist-line
  • preventing and reducing back pain
  • enhancing breathing
  • posture and balance.

It is specifically focused for:

Myofascial release of the abdominal wall and diaphragm, resulting from Low Pressure Fitness are also well-acknowledged benefits of Low Pressure Fitness. The constant movement of the diaphragm in a Low Pressure Fitness session, promoted both by breathing and by the apneas produces a cooperation between the need for a longer range of motion and the abdominal response. Connective tissue loosens up and so does the abdomen.

 

How does Low Pressure Fitness work?

 

Low Pressure Fitness optimises the body posture by adjusting the neuromuscular connections between the autonomous nervous system and portions of the body lacking in alignment and relief. It prevents urinary incontinence by restoring muscular tone in the abdomen and the pelvic floor. It improves breathing patterns by enhancing movement in the torso and the diaphragm and it relieves back pain by promoting flexibility and a wider range of movement.

 

Low Pressure Fitness promotes axial lengthening and restoring the strength of the abdominal oblique and transverse muscles.

 

Since there is so much in common between the Low Pressure Fitness, Yoga and Pilates, it is also frequent to find contentious attitudes, with people trying to argue which of the three is better. We feel that it is not necessary to choose between either. An all-inclusive stance will allow us to reap the benefits of all of them. Just workout, enjoy be ecumenical and enjoy!

 

Hugo Loureiro
Low Pressure Fitness Portugal Coach and Pilates Personal Trainer (PT Studio)
Dr. Tamara Rial
Founder & Developer of Low Pressure Fitness