My Top 3 Functional Exercises (that will help you look and feel great)

What is a functional exercise, anyway?

I consider a functional exercise to be one that works with a movement pattern that we use all the time, helps correct imbalances in that movement pattern, and builds strength. Other people may define that differently, but this is my definition. If it doesn't work with a common movement pattern, doesn't help correct imbalances, and doesn't build strength, it ain't functional.

And what is a common movement pattern?

A common movement pattern is one that we do as part of our basic daily lives. The big ones for me are:

  1. Sitting down and standing up. - We use this one often - getting out of bed, up from a seat, down and up from the toilet.
  2. Kneeling down and standing up, climbing up and down. - Also used often - kneeling down and standing up, climbing up and down stairs or ladders, getting in and out of SUVs.
  3. Pushing things away, or using upper body to help with 1 and 2. - Your upper body can help stop you from falling by pushing you away from the ground, help push things away from you, and help lift things.

My top 3 functional exercises

1. Squats

Squats are the workhorses of the workout world, They help us stand up from sitting, deep sustained squats help build collagen in the hip joints, they help tone our butts, calves, and thighs, and they work core stability. 

If your knees bother you, I recommend doing squats as sitting and standing, literally, with a chair behind you. Sit down and stand up, and repeat it several times. 

There are many versions of squats - front squats, plie squats, jump squats, pistol squats, Bulgarian split squats (which is also, arguably, a lunge)....

In Pilates we have footwork, standing footwork, the standing 2x4 work, sitting down and standing up from the mat, the russian squats (with pistol squat variation) on the reformer and with arm springs, the centering exercise on the ped-o-pul, seated leg pumping on the chairs, and the wall sit.

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2. Lunges

Kneeling down and standing up, climbing up and down stairs, climbing up and down ladders, and even getting in and out of an SUV involve lunging. I would start with walking lunges, then back lunges, side lunges, and then more complex moves like the curtsy lunge. A step up and down is another version of lunging. And lunges strengthen your core and tone your thighs, calves, and butts. 

In Pilates we have many lunges! Standing arm weight lunge series and arm spring lunge series, the splits on the reformer (especially Russian splits), going up front and side plus mountain climber on the chairs.

3. Push Ups

Since push ups involve plank (front support) with a controlled pushing and scapular stability and mobility, they are perfect for building core and upper body strength in a way needed to help us break a fall or push away from someone or something. Combined with the first two, we have the ability to push ourselves up from the ground to one knee and actually stand up. 

Push ups are also very amenable to modifications and variations. You can make them easier by separating your feet, bending knees, elevating your upper body, or shortening your range of motion. You can also easily make push ups harder by bringing feet together, straightening legs, elevating feet, or increasing range of motion. You can also alter hand/elbow positions to target triceps or chest more.

In Pilates we have Push ups on everything. Mat push ups, reformer push ups, and chair push ups, just to name a few.

I did a Facebook Live video about this topic yesterday. You can watch that here.

FASTer Way To Fat Loss features functional exercises 

If you are looking for a fat loss program that works through whole foods, functional exercise, and cutting edge nutrition and workout strategies, FASTer Way To Fat Loss is for you. This is, hands down, the best program on the market for a healthier you.

And if you are reading this on 2/25, it is the final call for my group that starts Week 1 tomorrow - Register Now. 

If you are reading this after 2/25, registration is open for the group starting 3/19.

Register for FASTer Way To Fat Loss here.

In and Up Diastasis Repair also features functional exercises

Moms need to sit and stand, kneel and stand, and climb around with their little ones. They also need to stabilize their spines and torsos to lift heavy children and play around.

For Moms with Diastasis Recti, all of these movements can be hard. My In and Up Diastasis Repair Program features functional exercises presented in a gradual way that will help heal your diastasis without surgery.

Register now for the In and Up group that starts tomorrow, 2/26!

Deep Core Strength Shown to Prevent Back Pain

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People Feel & Function Better When They Do Pilates

We in Pilates have been talking about back pain and exercise for decades. And while a whole host of anecdotal evidence does point to the deep core strengthening of Pilates as a huge help in preventing and treating back pain, the scientific evidence has been scant.

The connection between Pilates and less back pain is clear to me. It seems obvious to me that if you strengthen pelvic and shoulder stability, and strengthen deepest as well as more superficial layers of muscle, you are in a better position to withstand higher impact activities without fear of back injury and pain.

And, guess what? Not only is it clear to me, it's true!

A new study from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and published in the Journal of Biomechanics, examines what may cause chronic back pain in runners and what exercises may help. Basically, runners with weak deep core muscles are at higher risk of developing low back pain. "[W]eak deep core muscles force more superficial muscles like the abs to work harder and reach fatigue faster. When those superficial muscles are doing the work the deep core should be doing, there are often painful consequences."

It is not the six-pack that matters, but what is underneath it. And that is what we teach in Pilates!

Back Pain and the Opioid Epidemic

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Some Facts on Back Pain:

I was reading some statistics today on back pain, especially on the connection between back pain and the current opioid crisis we are having here in the US. Things are really quite scary! 

1. Almost Everyone Experiences Bad Back Pain

Yes, that's right, 80% of Americans experience back pain, and of those, 70% have bad enough pain that they go to the doctor. Statistically, more women than men seek treatment (which given my own experience with my husband, is not surprising, as he hates to go the doctor).

2. Back Pain Is One Of the Most Expensive Health Problems

Lower back pain alone accounts for 2-3% of all doctor visits. While that percentage seems low, it is higher than visits for allergies and the common cold! Between physicians, PTs, and pharmacies, the cost adds up to about $30 billion per year!

3. Treatment Costs Go Up, but Outcomes Haven't Improved

Most disturbing is the fact that as treatment costs go up, patient outcomes stay exactly the same. Why?

Because the costs are mostly for pain medications, which include fentanyl (which killed Prince) and Oxycontin (which most recently killed Tom Petty). And pain medications don't fix your back pain, they just numb you and turn you into an addict.

What Can You Do About Back Pain?

If the medical establishment is not helping people with back pain, and is in fact contributing to the opioid problem by simply giving people pain pills, what else can you do? Just suffer? As you might imagine, I have some ideas.

1. You Gotta Move!

One thing that we know improves peoples' back pain is properly done exercise to maintain appropriate spine positioning and posture. The less we sit, the more we move, and the more we move well, the better we feel. 

2. You Need To Chill Sometimes

There is a stress component to back pain, no doubt about it. We overwork and overworry. Take a bath, do a meditation class, take some deep breaths. But spend some time unplugged and relax!

3. Strengthen Your Deep Abdominal and Back Muscles 

Recent studies show that deep core strength helps us stabilize our spines both in movement and against load. In my humble opinion, Pilates is one of the best exercise modalities for this. 

Back Pain Resources 

1. Free Back Pain Resources

I have two free videos for you. The first is about how to stabilize your back and pelvis:

and the second is about Pilates Fundamentals to Eliminate Lower Back Pain:

2. Low-cost Resources

All of my Pilates Audios will help you reduce or alleviate lower back pain. They are 30 minute Pilates exercise routines that, if done regularly, really will help your back pain. Price? $20 each for something you can use daily, and easily travel with.

Click here to check out Pilates Audios

3. Higher-cost Resources

My two top resources for back pain are the Pilates for Back Pain eCourse and an Online Private Lesson.

The $97 eCourse is a comprehensive guide to using the full PIlates mat repertoire to eliminate your back pain, including an ebook with photos, audio workouts, and explanatory videos that break everything down for you. Weeks of content!

Click here for more about Pilates for Back Pain eCourse

An online private with me will allow me to see how you move and give you more specific recommendations for your particular back pain issue. A 55 minute session, which includes the video for you to watch and re-use, is $120 (Pilates pro discounts and package pricing available.

Click here to book an Online Pilates session

Any questions? Contact me and I will help you out!

 

Stop doing crunches if you want to flatten your stomach!

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That’s right.  Stop doing crunches if you want to flatten your stomach!

Sounds a little crazy, but it’s true!  

If you’ve already read the 5 Dos and Don’ts, then you know crunches are the LAST thing you want to do for your “baby pooch.”

Sounds counterintuitive, right?

Let me explain.  If you’re dealing with ab separation, you need to encourage your muscles to come in and up.  When you do crunches, you’re pushing your muscles down and out– the opposite of a flattening effect!

The problem is, if you hire a personal trainer to help you tighten your tummy, I can almost guarantee they won’t know the proper procedures for Diastasis Recti (DR).  Most people simply aren’t educated about it.  What’s more, you need to take a slow, gentle approach because your body is still healing.  

You wouldn’t hit it hard in the gym right after surgery because you need to allow your body time to heal.  Well, you’re still healing from having your baby, so be careful and gentle with your body.  If you choose to work with a trainer, make sure they are qualified to deal with DR.

If you want to start the healing process safely and naturally with a qualified expert, I’m happy to tell you about my new program called In And Up!

In And Up is specifically designed to guide you through the process of healing your Diastasis Recti at home. No surgery. No gym time.

This six-week online program will give you the guidance you need to heal, and I’ll be with you every step of the way through our private Facebook group! Click below for more info and to register.

Join me for the next round of in and up!

Registration will close soon, so don’t miss out on this opportunity!

Ann Samoilov Reviews My Pilates for Neck Pain Audio

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In case you think Twitter is useless, here is a great testimonial from my Twitter friend Anne Samoilov

Lynda Lippin's Neck Pain Pilates Audio leads you very clearly through key fundamental exercises which has relieved several of my clients recurring neck and shoulder pain. I have even used it myself, since I'm a new mom. I spent more than a year bent forward watching my daughter breastfeed. My neck was always in pain--even after I stopped breastfeeding. I'm a pilates instructor and her audio guide put me through my paces. Within a few days of doing the fundamental exercises, my neck pain is gone. I highly recommend getting this audio guide - it works, even if you have prior experience with pilates. Lynda has provides the listener with the exact cues that work. She is easy to understand and her voice even has the added benefit of relaxing you as your doing the routine. I highly recommend the audio guide!

Download the Pilates for Back and Shoulder Pain Audio $20

Review of Pilates for Neck and Shoulder Pain Audio

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I've used your audio a few times, now. My neck and shoulders feel pretty good! Your voice and directions are easy to understand, and it is brief and simple enough that I am not at all daunted to fire it up and do a quick session in the mornings. I think it helps me start the day with better posture at the computer, too. I'm eager to see what long-range effect it has on my neck, since I have a tendency towards forward-head posture... All in all, I think people will like and benefit from this product. I hope you're marketing this and your other MP3's to people at risk for repetitive stress injuries working at the computer--that would be a great target market. Very good job! Best, Beverly

Pilates is really great for relieving neck and shoulder pain and tension while also strengthening your muscles to hold you in alignment and out of pain.

This Pilates For Neck and Shoulder Pain Audio, along with others, is available for instant purchase and download for just $20.

 

Martial Artist Reviews My Pilates for Back Pain Audio

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This is from Scott Taylor, Karate and Kickboxing Instructor as well as editor of the Uechi-ryu Journal.

I recommend this audio program to anyone looking to rid themselves from back pain and who does not wish to leave the comfort of their own home to do so. Lynda's voice is soothing and her instructions are crystal clear and so easy to follow!

Change your life like I am doing~ I have been following Lynda on my iPod for about a week now and am blown away by the difference it is making!

Simply put – Do NOT spend a dime on any books or videos to ease your back pain until you listen to Lynda's audio program!

Buy Pilates for Back Pain Audio