Friday, July 1, 2011

Workshops at Fletcher Pilates Conference

I've been wanting to consolidate materials that I've got from the Conference but I had to get over the jet-lag, and while still 'jet-lagged', attended a brunch invitation that I accepted - LE Happiness Brunch.

Anyway, cut to the chase...Workshops that I attended at the Conference...
The first one which I'd share would be
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Focus on Balance (by Susan Bovre)
Susan shared with us on the skills to improve one's balance, and which we could use to address with an individual client - equipment and exercises that are appropriate for improving balance.

Skills for balance are namely:
- ability to walk and turn the head at the same time
- ability to stand on one foot for 5 seconds
- ability to reach down and pick up something
- ability to reach up
- ability to extend the hip and back
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Now, this may sound like simple tasks. BUT exercises or lesson plans that allow participants practise their balance would especially be appropriate for people who have chronic conditions and acute physical problems that have reduced their activity levels and compromised balance.

I must attest how I realise the importance of maintaining one's balance because I'm living with an aging grandmother of age 83 and father stricken with Parkinson's disease, both of whom have to deal with their sense of balance, as well as continuing to exercise within their range of movement.

So, what constitutes the balance system?
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1. Visual
2. Somatic (i.e. sensations of the skin, nervous systems and joints and muscles; or also known as proprioceptors)
3. Vestibular (i.e. inner ear)

If you're interested to read more, causes of balance problems

Recommended exercises:
a. Fletcher Fundamentals - the 7 standing and centering cues
b. Fletcher Towelwork - this will increase and maintain one's upper body strength (in the event the individual needs to catch himself/herself)
c. Fletcher Barrework 

It is impossible to go into specifics here but the salient points metnioned hopefully will help and be a guide for you, whether for yourself or for you to teach your clients.

One last imporant note on breaking of fall strategies. We either use our hands or hips.
- Hence, we need to increase / maintain upper body strength.
- Also, when we lose our balance, we would step forward or to the side to stop the fall. So, stiffness in the hip is not good. We must maintain a strong and supple hip!

In addition, other skills required:
1. Cervical mobility and with gait, especially when we would turn our head to look at things as we walk
2. Ability to bend over and stand back up requires core muscle strength and flexibility

Test you can do to test your sense of balance -
(1) stand on 1 leg for 20 seconds. Better still, (2) stand on 1 leg with eyes closed, for 5 seconds. Can you do (1)? If not, then it's something you want to work towards to, and your next goal will be to do (2)

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Movement should be approached like life - with enthusiasm, joy and gratitude – for movement is life and life is movement, and we get out of it what we put into it.”

~ Ron Fletcher

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