beating the winter blues: training tips + exercises

Pilates teacher and massage therapist Phil Bishop shares about the importance of training our bodies and demonstrates a few simple exercises for beating the winter blues.

Colder weather and low light can affect our mood and body clocks. Exercise is an excellent way of beating the winter blues. Stress in the form of unaccustomed load is an important part of exercising, without it we cannot improve. Load can be in the form of additional resistance, increased repetition and intensity of training. When we have no physical stress our bodies begin to suffer. Too much stress can lead to injury, lack of improvement or burn out.

Our bodies respond to stress by adapting
To gain an understanding of the work someone has done in their life osteoarchaeologists study their bones. The boney structure of the shoulder of a fourteenth-century archer is different from someone who spent their life farming.

The archer’s body has had to adapt to cope with the repeated stress of drawing the bow. Muscles were recruited and developed, tendons increased in strength and forces were transmitted to the bones changing their density and shape.

We get what we train for
Adaptations are specific to the type of load and how it is applied. The stresses on the muscles in yoga are not the same as in a spin class. The fast repetitive movement of the spinning class contrasts to the slow tensile loading of many yoga postures. The resistance and the way the muscles are used deliver different results.

Strength training needs to be specific in order to transfer over into sport. Using weights to strengthen your arm won’t necessarily improve your tennis serve, overall strength however might help your fitness on court.

Mixing it up
Varying exercise or practice can be useful in a number of ways. Variety can free up our training options and improve resilience in a broader range of movements.

Being strong enough
We require the strength to perform movement and the ability to call that strength into action with appropriate timing and control. By training, we gain more strength and the ability to maintain that strength over a longer period.

– Training for strength and endurance requires specific load appropriate to what we want to improve.
– To push our comfort levels to achieve adaptation.
– Progression of exercises in order to improve.

Exercises for beating the winter blues

Warm-up
Warming up is always important but even more so throughout the winter months. The warm-up increases core temperature and improves:

– Blood flow to the muscles.
– Ease of movement within the muscles and soft tissues.
– Increases the ability of the muscles to exert force and produce power.
– Takes your joints through an increased range of motion in preparation for your main exercises.

Warm-ups can include a mixer of slow and dynamic mobility exercises. Focus on how you’re feeling as well as what you’re trying to achieve. Try to tune into how your body feels and be open to adapting when training, this can be done in the warm-up.

Thread the needle
This exercise is for rotation of the mid/upper spine.

Phil Bishop thread the needle demonstration at triyoga

– Start on your hands and knees.
– Then raise the right arm out to your side.
– As you move the right arm down and underneath your body sit back halfway into your hips.
– Maintain a straight left arm.
– Look along your right arm and hold.
– Return back to the upright position.
– Repeat on the other side.

Spine curl
This exercise activates the muscles of the spine, hamstrings and gluteals.

Phil Bishop pelvis tilt demonstration at triyoga

– Tilt your pelvis back to press your lower back onto the mat.
– Maintain the pelvic tilt and lift your pelvis up.
– Raise your straight arms up and over your head.
– Lower your spine back down to the mat.
– Return your arms to your sides.

Recovery

– Include recovery into your overall training.
– Make sure you get enough sleep and rest time.
– Active recovery days allow you to focus on technique and endurance.

Focus on balance exercises, mobility and slower, more even-paced training and movement.

Click here to join Phil for a mat Pilates class at triyoga Camden or Shoreditch.

Interested in trying equipment Pilates with Phil? New students can sign up for a Starter Assesment for just £50. Click here to sign up for an equipment Pilates session at triyoga Camden.

Click here to view Phil’s massage schedule and to book an appointment. 

Phil Bishop’s massage style uses soft tissue therapy and therapeutic massage techniques and approaches that incorporate a wide variety of styles learned through more than ten years of experience in this field. His background includes sports and remedial massage, therapeutic massage, myofascial release and neuro-muscular techniques. Phil’s style of treatment aims both to identify and to work on the postural picture that might underlie muscular pain. Phil has also been influenced in his approach by an in-depth knowledge and application of Pilates, which has enhanced his understanding of posture, movement and physical well-being.

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