Millions of people suffer from chronic headaches. If you’re one of them, you know they can interfere with your quality of life significantly. Did you know you can practice Pilates for headache relief?
If your headaches are a result of stress, poor posture, or a problem with your neck or spine, Pilates can help! You may also benefit from other lifestyle changes as well. Let’s look at the most common types of headaches and what we can do to about them.
Types of Headaches
The most common types of headaches are tension headaches and migraines. Stress causes most tension headaches. When you’re stressed, you tend to do things like tighten your muscles, clench your jaw, or hunch your shoulders. You may also sleep poorly or skip meals. These are all potential headache triggers.
Stress can also trigger migraines, which are vascular headaches. Other migraine causes include hormonal changes, sensory overload, and reactions to foods or ingredients in foods.
Whatever the cause of your tension or migraine headaches, you may find Pilates for headache relief effective. If this is a surprise because you always thought Pilates was all about the core, read on!
Pilates is For the Whole Body
Since it is a workout for the whole body, Pilates offers exercises that can help relieve headache pain. According to Australian physiotherapist Peter Tziavrangos, one of the most beneficial aspects of mat Pilates for headache relief is not the physical exercise, but the meditative effect of practicing mindfully.
Since mindful practice helps us master staying in the moment, it can help reduce stress. But Pilates also helps with body awareness. We become more mindful of that clenched jaw or more aware of that trigger food or hunger that is causing our head to ache! We may also sleep better when we practice Pilates regularly.
Pilates for Headache Relief
In addition to mindful movement to reduce stress and help with headaches, some specific Pilates exercises that can help correct problems with alignment that cause headaches. Neck rolls are one example. Neck rolls help strengthen the muscles in your neck, which can help with “forward head syndrome,” a type of misalignment that can lead to headaches. You can also do neck rolls to reduce chronic muscle tension in the neck. The exercise improves range of motion, which enables better posture.
And don’t forget the core. If you practice Pilates, of course you can’t forget the core! Core work does help with headache relief. One reason is core work requires breathwork. So, again, you are increasing the flow of oxygen when you work on strengthening your core.
A strong core is also the basis for good postural alignment. With good posture, you’re less likely to put your body in a position that will lead to headache pain.
So, now that you know you can practice Pilates for headache relief, what are you waiting for? If you need some help designing a program that works for you, or if you want some individualized attention to keep you on track, let’s talk. I’m here to help!
Wouldn’t it be great to have a healthy body for life? Imagine feeling strong and confident no matter what your chronological age. Think about this: Whether you’re healthy or not, you only have one body. It’s your body for life. It is my hope that you will feel empowered to build and maintain well-being!
“The body is a sacred garment. It’s your first and last garment; it is what you enter life in and what you depart life with, and it should be treated with honor.” ~Martha Graham.
Are you aware of your body? What do you think of it, and do you know how to speak its language? Let’s start this exploration of our body and its health with some questions and some simple, straightforward answers.
What is Body Awareness?
Body awareness is a term that refers to knowledge and attention to what the human body can do. When we practice body awareness, we think about things like transferring weight, flight, and balance.
“The mind’s first step to self-awareness must be through the body.” ~ George Sheehan
What is Body Image?
Body image is the perception we have of our own body. Do you love your body or hate it? Or do you have feelings somewhere in the middle of these two extremes? Body image can be positive or negative and is often influenced by the standards society sets about how we should look.
“Research suggests that in general, women have slightly lower self-esteem overall when compared to men. But when it comes to body image, there is an enormous gender gap, with women reporting an overwhelmingly greater body dissatisfaction when compared to men,” says Denise Martz, PhD, a clinical health psychologist, and professor at Appalachian State University in North Carolina.
When you consider your knowledge and feelings about your body, is there room for improvement?
What is Body Language?
Your body is always sending signals about you to others. Take a look at yourself in a mirror or a window reflection. How do you think another person would perceive you right now? Are you slouching and trying to hide, or are you standing tall?
Look at your facial expression. Are you smiling? As Martha Graham said, “The body never lies.”
Fall in Love With Your Body for Life
“To keep the body in good health is a duty, otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.” ~ Buddha
If you want to have a strong and healthy body for life, practice Pilates or yoga. Pilates and yoga both work to unite the mind, body, and spirit. With commitment and dedication to either of these practices, you will eventually discover better physical awareness.
Feeling healthy and fit can improve your body awareness, which can improve your body image. With these improvements, your body language may change as well. Instead of hiding or showing the world that you are not feeling secure, your body may begin to say I am confident and beautiful!
The first step toward better health and fitness is always the hardest. With desire and dedication, it can be done. It’s your body for life. Self-confidence is the best outfit. Wear it. Own it. Rock it!
What is your exercise personality? Do you know that finding out may lead to your success or failure? Studies suggest that people are more likely to follow through with a workout routine and get results when they enjoy what they’re doing. It makes sense if you think about it. If you enjoy what you’re doing, you’ll want to do it more often!
So, you’ve decided to start exercising for one reason or another. Whether it was your doctor’s warning, an upcoming vacation where you’ll be on the beach wearing that dreaded bathing suit, or an upcoming high school reunion, something motivated you to take the first step and start.
Now what? How do you set yourself up for success? Remember you are doing this for you, so you’ll want to find something you enjoy enough to stick with it. This is where knowing your exercise personality comes into play. In short, no one else is going to exercise for you!
How to Determine Your Exercise Personality
An important thing to keep in mind when thinking about your exercise personality is the idea that what works for one person does not work for everyone. So, if you know someone who swears that yoga has changed her life, that doesn’t mean yoga is the right kind of exercise for you. Similarly, you may know an elite athlete who thrives in competitive team sports. But competition and intensity may not your thing.
It’s okay. You don’t have to try to be someone else. We all have unique personalities and needs, and the exercise programs we gravitate towards depend on that uniqueness.
You can determine your exercise personality by answering some simple questions.
- Do you prefer the solitude of exercising alone, or is companionship more motivating?
- Are you more attracted to activities that require great mental alertness and quick bursts of energy? Or are you more attracted to workouts that promote tranquility?
- Do you thrive on competition? Do you enjoy participating in team sports?
- Would you rather be indoors or outside? Perhaps it depends on the weather.
- Does your previous experience with exercise programs lead you to believe you will like or dislike a certain activity?
Your responses to these questions should offer insight into your exercise personality.
Finding your exercise niche
The key to success when it comes to exercise is to keep trying. And remember that even if you try a type of exercise—like Pilates—there are unique styles and teachers. If one experience doesn’t quite fit, you may want to try another before you give up and move on to something else.
In the end, no matter what your exercise personality may be, it’s important to take time for you. In other words, do something! Many people make time to take care of others but don’t make time to take care of themselves. In the end, this leads to burnout and makes you less effective as a caretaker.
Instead, make your “you” time a priority, and don’t miss that exercise appointment with yourself. Exercise will help you stay healthy, both physically and mentally. Don’t skip it. Your health is your life!
Many people at midlife and beyond are skeptical about exercise for people over 50. If you’re one of these folks, you may assume you can’t keep up with younger, fitter fitness enthusiasts. You may avoid gyms and exercise classes for this reason.
The good news is it’s never too late to start doing Pilates! In fact, Pilates is an ideal form of exercise for people over 50. It can turn back the clock and erase years of aging, helping you look and feel your best at any age. Pilates also has mind/body benefits. Combined with good nutrition, you’ll look great and feel great when you practice Pilates.
Why Pilates is a Great Form of Exercise for People Over 50
- Pilates consists of gentle movements that are easy on the joints. If you have joint pain, you’ll want your exercise routine to be easy on your joints. Even if you don’t have issues related to movement, Pilates offers an opportunity to move while keeping your joints safe as you get older.
- Pilates movements also help improve postural alignment. As we get older, we need to pay more attention to posture. Years of slumping over desks and keyboards takes its toll. Good posture is important and not just about appearance. Lengthening the spine makes breathing easier and gives your internal organs more room to function properly.
- You’ll strengthen your core. A strong core is the basis on which whole-body fitness is built. It’s not just about “six-pack abs.” Pilates training builds stability and balance, making the physical challenges of everyday life much easier to overcome. Whether you’re walking to work or browsing shops on the Upper West Side of NYC, you’ll do so more easily with Pilates training.
- You’ll become more flexible. It’s common to lose flexibility with age. When you think about what makes something a good exercise for people over 50, one thing to consider is whether the activity helps with flexibility. Pilates is a powerful corrective exercise. With regular practice, you can achieve even greater flexibility and fluidity of motion in your fifties, sixties and beyond.
- Pilates is more than just exercise. It’s an opportunity to become aware of your body. You’ll notice the habits you’ve developed at work and at home that lead to aches and pains. Pilates instruction will give you the tools to combat those habits.
How to Find Pilates Instruction for People Over 50
Like anything else, finding the right Pilates instructor and environment is key to getting the results you want. There are specific qualities that make a good Pilates instructor, and you’ll want to find a teacher you connect with.
Another thing to think about is the environment. As I mentioned, if you’re older, you may hesitate to go to an exercise studio or gym crowded with younger people who have different goals. In that case, you may be able to find an in-home Pilates instructor who meets your needs. The benefits of having personalized instruction in the comfort of your own home can move in-home Pilates straight to the top of the list when it comes to exercise for people over 50.