Gluteal Tendinopathy and Pilates

Did you know one in four women over the age of 50 have been shown to have gluteal tendinopathy? Gluteal tendinopathy can greatly impact your daily activities. Whether that is through lack of sleep, inability to walk normal distances or climb stairs without pain or the inability to sit or stand for long periods.

Your gluteal tendons are the tough fibres that connect your gluteal muscle to your hip bone. A tendon injury may seem to happen suddenly, but usually it is the result of many tiny tears to the tendon that have happened over time. The buttock or gluteal muscles are extremely important in providing pelvic stability when walking or running. Every time you step on your right foot, your right gluteal muscles are vital in keeping your pelvis stable and preventing your left hip from dropping. The gluteal muscles insert into the outside of the hip via their tendons and these tendons can break down.


What is a Tendon Injury? 

Tendons are the tough fibres that connect muscle to bone. Most tendon injuries occur near joints, such as the shoulder, elbow, knee, and ankle. A tendon injury may seem to happen suddenly, but usually it is the result of repetitive tendon overloading.

Your tendons are designed to withstand high, repetitive loading, however, on occasions, when the load being applied to the tendon is too great for the tendon to withstand, the tendon begins to become stressed. When tendons become stressed, they sustain small micro tears, which encourage inflammatory chemicals and swelling, which can quickly heal if managed appropriately.

What are the Symptoms of Tendinopathy?

Tendinopathy usually causes pain, stiffness, and loss of strength in the affected area.  The pain may get worse when you use the tendon. You may have more pain and stiffness during the night or when you get up in the morning. The area may be tender, red, warm, or swollen if there is inflammation. You may notice a crunchy sound or feeling when you use the tendon. The symptoms of a tendon injury can be a lot like those caused by bursitis

Can Pilates help?

In order to reduce pain, it is important to avoid positions that load the tendon such as sitting cross-legged, sitting in a low chair or carrying children on hips. Treatment involves strengthening the gluteals and the other pelvic stabilizing muscles. Pilates is a great way of ensuring correct posture and muscle recruitment during various exercises. There are so many exercises for Pilates on the Matts and reformer.

Pilates Exercise: 

1: Lying Side Kick/leg circles:

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*Lay down on your side in a straight line, shoulder over shoulder, hip over hip, and ankles together.

* Bring both legs forward to 45 degrees form the body line

* Prop the head behind the head, reaching the elbow towards the ceiling.

* Lift top leg to a point level with the pelvis, the pelvis and spine remain stable.

* Lengthen the leg and circle or kick forward in a controlled manner.

* Hinging from the hip, draw the movement back through the heel.

* Repeat.

2: The Clams


* Begin this exercise lying on your side with your shoulders, hips and ankles aligned.

* Your knees should be bent at right angles and resting together.

* Slowly lift your upper knee away from your other leg, keeping your ankles together, your pelvis still and tightening your buttock muscles. Hold or 2 seconds and then slowly lower the knee back down.

3: Window Washer

* Start on the floor in full plank position, feet together, hands directly under shoulders

*   Keep hips parallel to the floor, life left foot slightly and tap out to the left as far up as you can and return.

There are so many other exercises, but again, Pilates is a great way to help with any injuries or strains.


Sarah Pennicott

Pilates Teacher


Pilates Benefits for Menopause

What is the Menopause?

Before I blog about the Menopause, some of you may wonder, how can I give advice about the menopause if I haven’t experienced it. Well, let me explain.  For us women, it happens, we can’t avoid it. Some of us have seen our own mothers experience Menopause and at some point, my time will come, but what I can do, is to provide a little bit of advice from the knowledge I have gained over the years.

Menopause, also known as the “change of life”  is the time in most women’s lives when menstrual periods stop permanently, and they are no longer able to have children. This will normally occurs between 45 and 55 years of age with Medical professionals often define menopause as having occurred when a woman has not had any vaginal bleeding for a year. It’s a stage of life, when women become deeply concerned about aging and feel like the best of life is now behind, as their body starts demonstrating unpleasant changes and their emotions seem to run out of control.

Symptoms of the Menopause.

Before menopause, the functioning of the ovaries and the secretion of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone decline. The reduction in the levels of estrogen create a hormonal imbalance that results in several physical an psychological symptoms.

Woman’s periods typically become irregular, which means that periods may be longer or shorter in duration, or be lighter or heavier in terms of the amount of flow. These changes generally happen several years before the actual menopause begins. This transition phase is called perimenopause. During this time, women will often experience hot flushes which will typically last from 30 seconds to ten minutes and may often stop occurring after a year or two. Other symptoms may include vaginal dryness, mood changes and trouble sleeping.






Menopause and your bone health

Women can lose up to 20% of their bone density in the five to seven years after the menopause. This makes post-menopausal women more at risk of Osteoporosis which may increase weak bones and fractures.  Pilates, specifically, is a form of exercise that is often mentioned with regard to osteoporosis. But in Pilates there are definite parameters as far as what exercises are appropriate for osteoporosis.

We must have strong bones that can bear our weight and allow us mobility

Bone is a dynamic tissue, like muscle, that strengthens in response to forces it has to resist. Gravity is one such force, and working against gravity is what we refer to when speaking of “weight-bearing exercise.” The combination of compression and tension from gravity and from our muscles plays a major role in bone strengthening.

The resistance can come from weights, elastic bands, but you can also consider your own body weight as resistance in some instances, like a push-up. In this example, you’re using gravity and your own body weight to provide resistance and induce muscle pull.

Pilates Benefits and Exercises.

Pilates exercises can improve brain activity, improve the general attitude towards life, increase alertness during the day and enable a restful sleep at the end of the day.

Pilates is very much focused on Breathing, Strength, Balance, Flexibility, Endurance and Coordination.

Breathing and Relaxation: Breathing reduces stress, can help with anxiety attacks and helps to attain clam and enhance focus.

Strength:  A decline in estrogen levels, will be a decline in bone density, however, exercises bearing resistance may help reduce and even reverse this effect.

Balance: Balance exercises will focus on enhancing your posture and body awareness which can help prevent falls and avoid injuries.

Flexibility:  These exercises are so important to keep muscles flexible and to reduce pain and stiffness in the body.

Coordination: Coordination exercises help to improve concentration, challenge your memory and increase brain activity.

Pilates Exercises.

  1. Back Extensions: (The Dart – upper back extensions, Forward Stretch, Opposite Arm and Leg Reaches, The Saw) Working on back extension is imperative for clients in the Menopause. As we age, we have the tendency to lose good posture, weakening more and more the strength in our back extension muscles.  We need to focus on strengthening our scapulars, mid to lower trapezius, rhomboids and serratus anterior.
  2. Arm work:  (Triceps Press/Bicep Curl with Resistance Band) is essential for clients in menopause, as they lose fat deposits in the arms and the skin gets saggy especially in the triceps area. It is crucial to strengthen and build up muscle taking in consideration that as we age we have more difficulties to do any kind of over-head arm work exercises. . The aim is to develop arm and shoulder strength, flexibility and control.  It is imperative for the client to pay special attention to core strength and stability, good posture and alignment. Considering that at this stage there is a tendency of kyphosis (I refer to my clients as stressed shoulders….relax!!!) the correct placement of the shoulders before performing the arm work block.
  1. Lateral flexion rotation: (Mermaid, Side Bend) Focusing on abdominal control with emphasis on the oblique’s, spinal mobility and scapular stabilization. The sides of the trunk generally become weaker as the muscles lose some tone with the aging process.
  1. Leg/Glues Work:  (Side Kick, Thigh High Lift, The Frog, and Leg Pull front) The focus is on strengthening hip extensors, hip adductors, Hamstrings, knee extensors and keeping pelvic stabilization.
  2. The Core:  (Hundred, Double Leg Stretch, Toe Taps, and The Bicycle) this is an area of the body where women in menopause lose tone and gain weight.
  3. Hip Work: (Bicycle, Hip Rolls, One leg Circle) this area tends to lose strength and stability. It is important to keep this area functional to help prevent issues with balance.
  1. Stretching:  It is of great importance for women in this stage to stretch in order to keep muscles flexible and reduce future pain and stiffness in the body

Its not all Doom and Gloom

In addition to the biological an physiological changes, women at this stage in life (unless you have started the menopause at an earlier age)  are generally experiencing changes in their family structure, as their grown children have started to leave their home and it’s at this time, when women can finally have more time to dedicate for themselves. To pursue their interest and passions, and to connect with their friends, to experience a sense of freedom.


Sarah Pennicott

Pilates Teacher/Advanced Personal Trainer







Pilates: why is it so good for our back?

Source: Pilates: why is it so good for our back?

The New Shoulder Bridge – tum and bum workout


The new Shoulder Bridge – Have two for the price of one with this move.

Muscle group used:  The core, bottom and hamstrings


A total tone-up that’s great at home or in the gym, the shoulder brige really drills the stomach and bottom. The Glutes are quiet strong, so the traditional move can gradually become less challenging, which slows results. This new way allows you to add extra resistance, which you can adjust using the band, so you can continue to see the results.



  • Lie on your back with hips and knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Remember to find neutral spine (read previous blogs). Loop a band around your right foot and extend your right leg toward the ceiling.
  • Take hold of the band and keep both elbows resting on the floor. There shoudl be a small amount of tension in the band.
  • Push through your left foot and lift your hips off th efloor to forma a straight line from your left knee to your shoulders.
  • Hold and breathe in and out of your chest then slowly lower your hips to just off the floor and repeat, keeping your hips level as you lift and lower.



3 x times a week.

The resistance is set using the band, which you can adjust between sets if it is too easy ro difficult. So to make it harder, increase the tension in the band by holding it closer to your foot, or using a different coloured band with a higher tension setting.  You could also do five small pulses at the top of the movement with each rep.


Sarah Pennicott

Personal Trainer & Pilates Teacher

Energise the winter months

Energise the winter months

Not everyone enjoys the winter months. Long dark evenings make it difficult to get out in the fresh air, wind and weather encourages you to stay indoors, low temperatures turn you to comfort foods and the combination of central heating and frosty outdoors can make your skin dry and tight.

But it doesn’t have to be like that! Here are some ways to energise the winter months so you look and feel great.

Winter-proof your skin

Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water and moisturising really well. Eat lots of antioxidants to keep your skin bright and exfoliate once a week to get rid of the dead cells.

Brighten your mood

The winter can dampen the liveliest of spirits – researchers believe it’s the lack of light that interferes with the hormones in the brain and reduces serotonin – the feel good hormone.  But even on the worst day there is 30 times more light outdoors than in, so even if its bad do try to get outside every day even if its only for a short time. Make the most of natural daylight by pulling back curtains, and sitting by windows. If you suffer really badly from lack of light, consider a light box.

You can also boost your mood by eating foods rich in tryptophan which your body uses to make the happy hormone serotonin. Eat fish, turkey, chicken, cheese, beans, tofu, oats and eggs. Taking a supplement of something like St Johns Wort may also help brighten your mood.

Boost your immunity

Most adults get 2-5 colds each winter when we’re cooped up indoors.  Build up your defences by eating foods rich in Vitamin C- citrus fruits, berries, red peppers, tomatoes – and Zinc – seafood, meat, liver, wholegrains.  Getting enough sleep is also important, as is taking some regular aerobic exercise.

Protect your Heart and Lungs

Asthma, respiratory problems and heart attacks are more common in the winter because colds and flu can be a trigger.  The best way to keep your heart and lungs healthy is to exercise aerobically as much as possible – at least 30 minutes, 3 times a week. You can also eat oily fish and other foods that provide Omega 3 fatty acids which help against heart disease.

Sarah Pennicott

Personal Trainer & Pilates Teacher

I’m very excited to announce that the Galaxy girls have made it into this months Ultra fit magazine. I participated in the show last October and then trained with the Royal Marines Commando in December. We will be in the next 3 issues of Ultra Fit.

I’m looking forward to competing in the next show in June 2013, and looking forward to more training with the marines again.

Sarah Pennicott
Personal Trainer and Pilates Teacher