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: why is it so good for our back?

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

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



Personal Trainer Sarah Pennicott’s Top Ten Tips for a 6 pack

Personal Trainer Sarah Pennicott’s Top Ten Tips for a 6 pack.

Personal Trainer Sarah Pennicott’s Top Ten Tips for a 6 pack

January 1st…so what’s your goal for 2013.women abs

Over the years, this has to be the most popular question I am asked and normally clients will say, can you recommend me some good tummy exercises. Getting a flat tummy isn’t all about doing abdominal exercises; there are many other factors that you need to do to achieve this goal.

My goal for 2013 is quiet simple….aiming for a six pack, or 8 pack to be exact. If I’m being totally honest, it’s not simple, well it is, but it’s going to be very hard. Two ways to get a flatter tummy is to train hard (that’s the easy part for me) and look at what your eating (this is my weakness), even Personal Trainers have a weaknesses and food is one of them for me.

So let me begin and let’s share this journey together!!

1: Cardio –  high intensity interval workouts

Cardio workouts are an important step to get six pack abs:  This is a MUST!!!!     You need to lose some of that extra fat over your abs.  Even if you work your core and abs hard, if there is still a layer of fat over them no one will ever get to see them.

Cardio workouts are workouts that raise your heart rate for a given set of time. I personally would recommend Kettlebells which are great for burning off fat as you are getting a great cardio workout whilst using resistance…….perfect for burning that fat away,  but you can also take up jogging, dancing, rowing etc….aim for at least 3 x a week, 30 minutes. Remember, if you concentrate on just running, you may lose some body a fat, but it isn’t enough to produce a 6 pack…more work is still required.

2: Lift weights – the whole body area

The more muscle your body has, the more calories your body burns, even at rest. I can’t stress enough the importance of doing some resistance work for the whole body,  plus, resistance training is important to limit the amount of muscle mass lost whilst reducing your calorie intake. If you only do cardiovascular exercises (running, playing basketball, football) without weight training then you may lose the muscle mass, including the muscle in your abs. Think of Jessica Ennis, she doesn’t get a six pack from training on the athletics track, she also, lifts weights. You have to think of the whole package, but just the tummy area. iStock_000016435018XSmall

3: Build Muscle

So like above, you need to build muscles up around your tummy, however, do plenty of abs work in an upright position which is more functional: it’s no good teaching your body to activate your core only when lying down.

  • Medicine Ball Woodchops Keeping your hips fixed forward, hold a 3-5kg medicine ball with your arms fully extended to one side at head height, then power it diagonally down in a wood chop action. Do this for  30 seconds on one side, 10 seconds rest, and then 30 seconds the other side.
  • Rollouts One of the best ways to train your rectus abdominis is with rollouts, which can be performed using a Swiss ball or Power Wheel. Rollouts have been shown to work better than crunches, sit ups and even hanging knee ups for activating both upper and lower abs.
  • Crunches. We all love our crunches. It is very important to not lift your entire back off the floor when performing crunches as this can cause back strain, and the extended movement does not help you develop six pack abs any faster. The most important part of the crunch is the initial flexing of your abs as you lift your shoulders off the floor. As soon as you begin lifting off the floor exhale through your mouth, ending with a gasp once your shoulders are off the floor. Then pause for a second once you are at the top of the crunch and exhale the last bit of air from your diaphragm while flexing your abs. Now lower back down slowly and controlled while inhaling through your nose, just until your shoulder blades touch the ground. Do not let your head touch the ground.
  • Sit ups. Lie on the floor, feet on the floor, knees up and hands crossed on your chest. Have someone hold your feet down, or wedge them underneath something heavy. Sit all the way up, lifting your lower back off the floor along with your shoulder blades. Keep your back straight (no hunching). Lower yourself down. Repeat. Once this becomes relatively easy for you (i.e. you can do a quite a bit with ease) start adding more challenges. Find an incline bench. Do weighted sit ups. Hold a weight on your chest while you do these. As these become easier, hold heavier and heavier weights.

There are many more exercises which I will put a video together to show you some examples.

4: Core strength 


You need to train your entire core. To build really great abs it’s important to first understand what abs do. Their full name is ‘rectus abdominis’. Contrary to popular opinion, the abs’ primary job is not to curl you up into a ball, but they work together with the back muscles to maintain correct posture and stabilise your spine. So the best exercises for abs are ones that force your entire core to go into overdrive to support your spine. Some exercises that do this are squats and deadlifts. These exercises will train your entire core to work together to do what it is designed to do. At the same time they will also train a lot of other muscles such as glutes and quads.

Finding a good Pilates class will also work the core muscles as well as activating other supported muscles,  building your back muscles and improve your posture.

You can also add complex core-movements to your workout. This will boost your overall body constitution tremendously. You could try and combine push-ups with rows. Go into a push-up position on two dumbbells. Now don’t do a push-up, but instead start to row alternating dumbbells. See how much power you need only to hold balance? Combine exercises! Be creative. Tension is your friend.

5: Train your oblique muscles.

It’s not as important to work on your oblique muscles at first, but eventually you’ll want to start working these too. These are the muscles to either side of your stomach. There are multiple ways to do this and anything that includes twisting your torso against a resistance counts. There are twisting machines at gyms, you can twist while you do sit-ups, you can do side bends, you can twist side to side with a medicine ball in hand, etc.

  • Bicycle crunches. Lift your feet off the ground while doing the crunches by alternating each leg in the air. Bring your left knee up toward your right shoulder and then your right knee toward your left shoulder.
  • Pull-ups hanging from a horizontal bar. You will be amazed at the number of muscles around your stomach working with pull-ups. Do 5 pull-ups with your palms facing away from you and 5 pull-ups with your palms facing towards you. This will also build your pectorals and biceps at the same time.
  • Stability ball. Do your crunches on the ball to introduce instability to your workout, which will improve your balance too. Do this as often as you are comfortable or at times when it won’t look weird.

6: Eat breakfast.

Many people skip breakfast because they don’t have time for it or they think fewer calories will help to lose a few pounds. I am surprised the amount of clients that. See never eat breakfast. The harm of skipping breakfast from a weight loss perspective is it makes you eat a huge lunch since your body hasn’t had anything in the past 12 (or more) hours. When you eat a huge lunch you get that after meal drowsiness so now you’re both unproductive and inactive. Cereals don’t take much time to prepare and consume, and most of them are very healthy nowadays, but do take a look at the sugar content. If you are extremely pressed for time, consider grabbing a box of breakfast bars or a smoothie and throwing one in your bag when you leave for work. Some breakfast bars out there are also excellent sources of fiber. Even an apple or a yogurt is better than nothing.

Ideally, your breakfast should be the biggest meal of the day, lunch the second, and dinner the smallest.

7: Keep metabolism steady.

Eating one small meal every three hours that you are awake will not speed up your metabolism, rather, it will keep it going. Your metabolism goes and slows with your food intake and eating something small every three hours will keep that metabolism burning calories and will help you lose weight. Every meal should include lean protein, so that your body won’t need to break down your muscles for fuel, which would shrink your abs as well as slow down your metabolism. Fresh fruits or vegetables are excellent choices for curbing appetite not to mention other health benefits. A handful of nuts might do the same. Drink a large glass of water before sitting at the table will also help.

8: Drink more water every day.

An average person should be drinking 2 litres of water a day. It sounds like an absurd amount of water, but you get water from the food you eat, and you can drink teas and pure fruit juices to make up some of the quota.

Drinking too much water (several liters, especially while sweating) can dangerously dilute certain salts and minerals. If you are exercising heavily and sweating a lot, you will need to replace your salts as well as fluids. Supplement your water drinking with a sports drink or potassium rich fruits such as bananas and apples.

9: Swap refined grains for whole grains.

A diet rich in whole grains changes the glucose and insulin response in your body, which hastens the melting of fat, and visceral fat, that deep layer of fat, is easier for your body to burn than the subcutaneous fat under your skin (the fat that you can see and grab). In a scientific study, people who ate all whole grains (in addition to five servings of fruits and vegetables, three servings of low-fat dairy, and two servings of lean meat, fish, or poultry) lost more belly fat than another group that ate the same diet, but with all refined grains. Not only will whole grains help reduce fat, it also helps digestion issues.

10: Essential Fatty acids – Omega 3 & 6  omega36

So we need to lower our fat intake but we also need to ensure we have the correct balance of essential fats…….these are also known as the good fats. These oils Significantly increased lean mass and decreased fat mass

Fat has to be the most debated part of food, however, fat is an essential part of our diet if we are to function properly.
Omega 3 and 6 are the two essential fatty acids which help the cardiovascular, reproductive, immune and nervous system to function as well as being involved in manufacture and repair of all membrane cells.

Omega 3 fat sources help with brain function. These foods are found in oily fish such as Salmon, Mackerel,Sardines & herrings
Oils – linseed oil, whetgerm, walnuts, rapeseed oil and soya beans.

Omega 3 fat sources have anti inflammatory properties so it is good for joints and injuries.

Fish oil (the best source of Omega 3 fats) increases basal metabolic rate helping you burn more calories overall. Fish oil also improves the use of fat as a fuel source during exercise meaning you use less muscle glycogen and more fat for your training. This means you lose body fat faster.

Omega 6 fats are found in walnuts, sunflower seeds, sunflower oil and whetgerm.
These are a healthier fats. They are believed to reduce cholesterol and help reduce heart disease and offering some protection against cancers.

Sarah Pennicott

Personal Trainer and Pilates Teacher!/pages/MASTER-FITNESS-PERSONAL-TRAINER/117149741672024