Practicing Pilates-Style Movements Can Lead To Better Health & Fitness When Mowing the Lawn By Tonya BronleeweAfter reading Aliesa’s blog about using Pilates to strengthen your body for this summer’s gardening, I was inspired to think about Pilates while I mowed the lawn. As a Centerworks Pilates student for the last 5 years, I have Aliesa’s tips, techniques, mantras and cues running through my head most of the time. I hear her when I’m working out, running, walking, standing or sitting at my desk. Her voice in my head says things like “Low belly pulled in and up,” “Pull your shoulders away from your ears,” “What’s your clam doing?” “Zip up your inner thighs.” I love that I get my money’s worth out of every training session because I take her wise words about how to move my body in efficient and effective ways with me, out the door and into my real life. This Brings Me To Today’s Pilates Tips and Musings on Mowing. I like to mow the lawn because I count that as my workout for the day because it takes me about an hour and I’m moving and working up a sweat the whole time. (We’ve got a big yard, thick grass and a number of hills.) As I mowed the lawn this past week I thought more deeply about HOW I was moving, what muscles I was engaging and what bad movement habits I might be reinforcing as I cut the grass. My inner-Aliesa-voice led me to a few new healthy movement moments of effective muscle action for wellness success. Check out these 3 Pilates Tips To Stay Healthy, Fit, and Injury-Free While Mowing the Lawn:
- The Walk – I usually “trudge-walk” as I mow with heavy steps and little intentional effort in my inner and outer thighs. This puts lots of strain on my lower back and I used to get low back aches after mowing. But, with a little “zip up the inner thighs,” some work in my low belly to lift my leg, and initiating the leg swing from under my butt into my hamstring my legs felt lighter. I even got a nice spring in my step.
- The Push – One of my huge challenges (we all have one or two body habits that are hard to break) is keeping tension out of my neck and shoulders when I workout. When I push the mower without thinking my elbows lock and my shoulders scrunch up by my ears and the push comes from my shoulders in a bad way. I know that Aliesa would be none too pleased with my form, so I thought about how she’d change my pushing position. First, I pulled my shoulders down using my underarm and side muscles, not the tops of my shoulders. Then, I bent my elbows so that my biceps and triceps were engaged and I wasn’t jamming my arm bones into my shoulder joints. Finally, as I pushed the mower I put the energy of the push into my core. Wow, let me tell you that you’re going to feel it in short order when you mow from your core.
- The Turn – Well, unless you have a long and skinny yard, you are going to have to turn the mower around at least a few dozen times during your lawn mowing chore. When you turn a mower you have to push down on the handle to lift the front of the mower to twist is around on the back wheels. Again my habit was to jam my arm bone up into my shoulder, and then use the jammed shoulder’s leverage to push the mower down to turn it around. To fix my mower turn body mechanics I, again, kept support under my arms and into my core, then intentionally used Pilates side bending skills (check out Aliesa's Side Bend Video) to push the mower down to turn it around. Because mowers are kinda heavy, this move left my sides sore for 2 days. VICTORY! Work in my sides and no pain in the shoulders.
If you’re reading this article and have insights or success moments of your own that you’d like to share. Contact Aliesa and share how you’ve transferred tips (big or small) from your Pilates training to your daily life, sports, or work life habits to enjoy better health and achieve wellness success! You too can be featured as a guest blogger, or in an upcoming article on Centerworks.com. Submit your story ideas today!