I’m always asked for advice about what are the best shoes to wear for walking and running. This is such a controversial discussion that ranges from very supportive arches in shoes, to the new memory foam innersoles, to lightweight running shoes to completely barefoot. I have to say that I lean towards the barefoot end of the spectrum or as close to it as possible for normal feet.

Back in the 90’s research showed that the introduction of supportive shoes for walking and running did not reduce the rate of injuries to the foot, ankle or knee. Injury rates continued to rise. Many books have hit the market on the barefoot running movement and they do hold a few truths. From the minute a child can walk we put them in shoes. Shoes prevent earthing (a change of electrical charge that exists with connection to the ground), can reduce natural mobility of the foot and can change walking dynamics in many cases.

Barefoot running is often not realistic in the big smoke. More often than not we are walking on concrete with sharp hazards. A rubber sole is so important to cushion and protect against this.  However, the shoe industry is currently moving towards feather light sneakers and they are fantastic. The latest pair of Adidas I bought are made of neoprene (wetsuit material). The new designs are so confortable, super stylish and quite a fashion statement.

You do have to think…how much support do feet really need? The arch was designed to move, stretch and contract. Shoes were originally designed for protection of the feet only. Providing too much support in my opinion is like wearing a back brace. Wearing a back brace for too long can cause the abdominals to slacken as they are not needed. I feel the same happens in the foot. Too much support means the foot becomes in a sense ‘weakened’.

So go as light as you can. I always stress the need to slowly wean yourself into them as they feel very different if you’re used to bricks on your feet. If you have any injuries or are currently wearing orthotics its best to get advise from your Physiotherapist about changing shoes to a lighter option.

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I recently attended a lecture titled “Sitting is the New Smoking”. Thought I’d share a little of what I took away from it.

Sitting down for long periods (facing a computer screen, sitting in meetings, watching TV, driving a car) is not what we were designed to do. It has now also been shown that sitting all day and then going to the gym for an hour isn’t ideal either. The key is to move more often, as much as possible, with high intensity several times per week.

Objects of modern life such as office chairs, beds, car seats, and lounges are designed to provide so much comfort and support to our bodies that we can stay put for long periods of time without the need to move. But is this a good thing? Research shows us that fascia (all our connective tissues that covers and weaves through our entire body) is continuously being remodelled every minute of every hour. Naturally if we sit or lie on a hard surface, (think of old Danish furniture, basic plastic chairs or just on the floor like many other cultures) the body will move roughly every 20mins to get a new comfortable position. Not moving for hours can lead to our connective tissue re-modelling in that position, potentially leading to imbalances and pain, not to mention the stats on other health factors. I stayed in Myanmar in a monastery many moons ago on a timber floor and I definitely moved every 20 mins as each body part progressively went numb. I think it’s a matter of getting used to it. We are conditioned for comfort! But the truth is we are doing harm by not moving. I don’t know if I’m ready to sleep on a yoga mat yet, but here are some tips to for moving more regularly if your desk bound all day:
1. Make yourself head out at lunchtime.
2. Arrange walking meetings, grabbing a coffee for the walk if need be.
3. Get up and stretch! Move your fascial system regularly. I’ll post over the next few weeks some great ways to move at your desk that won’t have you looking ridiculous if you’re in a shared office.
4. Consider gradually making your chair a little less comfortable. Your body will tell you its time to move.
5. Use the stairs.

Know that sometimes it’s impossible to change your day, but I’m sure there are a few ways you could move more often. Hopefully I’ve got you thinking…

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Claire Fabb (Style By Yellow Button- stylebyyellowbutton.com.au)has been a regular client of the studio for many, many years now and has asked me to write a blog post about Pilates, in particular using the traditional machines and the benefits of these. This post was for her website, but I’m sharing it here…

With summer around the corner, it is good to understand how machine-based Pilates can help with strength, toning, flexibility and mindfulness.

Pilates has been around now since the early 1900’s. Joseph Pilates set up his first studio in NYC, but it became famous around the world when it hit the Californian shores in the 70’s. The list of Hollywood celebrities doing Pilates is endless, Kate Hudson, Anna Paquin, Reece Witherspoon, Cameron Diaz and Megan Fox to name a few. In the professional sporting scene it’s larger. Even Pippa Middleton claimed her infamous bottom in that bridesmaid dress was attributed to machine-based studio Pilates in London. And it’s not just for women! It was started by a man, and men usually love it the most.

There are mat-based and machine-based Pilates classes. Both are the same, but different. The exercises all come back to the founding principles of precision, form, control, breath, muscular balancing, etc. I personally love machine-based Pilates the most. The machines are all spring loaded and can look a little daunting, but they have this amazing ability to either assist a movement or seriously challenge it. This is what gives regular Pilates enthusiasts those leaner and longer muscles. When you do Pilates, you have a better awareness of your body too and how it moves. It really is like meditation…you can only focus on the one thing (your body) whilst performing the exercises.

Remember that no matter what level your at, what your goals are or what injuries you have, Pilates can be modified to your situation. It should start slow until you learn to master your body and the basics, then you will find out the true potential of Pilates. It will make you shake, strengthen your core and even get the heart rate up.

There are 5 main machines to work on, and all good studios will have them; the Reformer, Cadillac (or often called the Trapeze table), Wunda Chair, High Barrel and Spine Corrector. There is a magnitude of other contraptions too that you will see. All these beautifully crafted machines can assist you to perform a movement, add varying resistances to intensify a movement, increase stretches and add balance challenges. Pilates should be a full-body workout once you have mastered the basics, however, the most important thing is your form and using the correct technique. Like learning any new skill, you have to start at the beginning. The more challenging repertoire you get to look forward to is truly amazing.

Also, consider seeing a Physiotherapist for Pilates if you have a current injury. Machine-based Pilates is great for rehab!

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