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







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

What is functional training

Functional training is an effective form of exercise that trains several muscle groups at a time. While training several muscle groups, you execute movements performed in everyday life that can improve balance, core stabilization strength and flexibility. Whether you are a marathon runner, a triathlete, or simply a homemaker who wants to carry their children without injury, functional training can help.

If your training for sport or for general fitness, you should conduct exercises that are compound and functional in nature. Compound exercises are defined as movements that require more than one joint and one muscle group. These exercises help to build muscles. Functional movements integrate all major muscle groups from head to toe, primarily when standing up and engaging in more than one plane of movement. They do not require heavy, expensive machines, and can be performed almost anywhere. think about it , we don’t live our lives sitting in leg-press machines or leg-extension machines.

When you talk about functional exercise many people think its just exercise that uses stability balls, bands, medicine balls, foam rollers, etc.

This is not always the case. While these are common training tools their use does not constitute functional training by itself. You can train “functionally” with free weights and bodyweight exercises as well. The key difference is in the way in which the exercise is completed.


Functional Training Helps Improve Your Joint Stability And Muscular Balance.

Because physical therapy focuses on types of exercises that do their best to restore your body to its therapists choose exercises that fit your specific needs. More often than not, the functional training exercises they choose focus on restoring your joint stability and muscular balance, especially if you’ve been lying in the hospital for an extended period of time. The more time you spend lying around recovering, the more likely your muscles are to grow weaker. In order to strengthen them, doctors will often refer you to a physical therapist, someone who specializes in trauma rehabilitation. It is also important to attend physical therapy sessions to keep your joints active.

Functional Training Can Improve Your Cardiovascular Skills.

In physical therapy, it is also common to use functional training in order to improve cardiovascular skills. Excessive movement keeps your cardiovascular system active, helping you to stay healthy longer. Aerobic exercise can be included in your functional training to boost the progress of your cardiovascular skills. Functional training exercises are key to a good workout when aiming to improve your recovery rate, which is why physical therapists rely so heavily on functional training in their sessions.


Lunge with back row
Functionality: This exercise will improve your posture by strengthening the muscles in your upper and mid back, shoulders, and arms while also toning and strengthening your legs and improving your hip flexibility.

Medicine ball squat with overhead lift
Functionality: Even though you lift things — like groceries, your kids, and other objects — with your arms, your legs and back are also key players. This exercise strengthens your legs, glutes, lower back, arms and shoulders. Exercise: Stand with your feet wide, holding a light medicine ball in front of you in both hands.

Stair climb with bicep curl

Functionality: Whether you have stairs at your house or have to climb them elsewhere, using stairs as part of your fitness program will keep your legs conditioned — not to mention toned. Partnering stair climbs with bicep curls will strengthen your arms and improve your ability to carry things up the stairs.

Push up with hip extension
Functionality: This exercise strengthens your chest, shoulder and arm muscles (primarily triceps) as well as your core muscles and glutes. Exercise: Get on your hands and knees, hands wider than shoulder-distance apart.
Exercise: Get on your hands and knees, hands wider than shoulder-distance apart. Extend your right leg straight back and pull your belly button up towards your spine, tightening your core muscles. Keeping your leg lifted, lower your chest to the ground until each of your elbows is at a 90-degree angle then push up. Repeat 10 to 15 times for each leg. As you get stronger, increase the angle of your hips, increasing the distance of your knees from your hands. Eventually perform exercise with straight legs, one leg lifted, the other positioned on your toes.

Torso rotation with medicine ball
Functionality: Having strong obliques is key in avoiding lower back injuries. This exercise improves the strength and coordination of all of your core muscles — and will improve your tone and tighten your waist. Exercise: Sit on the ground with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor, holding a medicine ball at your chest with both hands. Lean your torso back away from your thighs, increasing the angle at your hips and pulling your belly button in towards your spine. Maintaining your hip angle, rotate your torso to the right, moving your right elbow towards the floor behind you. Return center and rotate to the left.

Sarah Pennicott
Personal Trainer and Pilates Teacher

How to beat your monthly melt down

How to beat your monthly melt down.

5 steps to a fimer TUMMY

5 steps to a fimer TUMMY.

Beetroot. Performance Enhancer?


Beetroot Juice. Performance Enhancer?

I have recently over the past few months have been hearing about the benefits of beetroot, whether it was performance related or for health benefits. I personally love beetroot which I mainly use in salads, but maybe I might start thinking on using it as a drink before exercise.

Beetroot is a rich source of potent antioxidants and nutrients, including magnesium, sodium, potassium and vitamin C, and betaine, which is important for cardiovascular health. It functions by acting with other nutrients to reduce the concentration of homocysteine, a homologue of the naturally occurring amino acid cysteine, which can be harmful to blood vessels and thus contribute to the development of heart disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease. Beetroot’s other benefits are that it contains no fat, very few calories and is a great source of fibre

Beetroot juice is also a natural source of nitrate, which is thought to be an important ingredient in athletic performance. The nitrate has two physiological effects. Firstly, it widens blood vessels, reducing blood pressure and allowing more blood flow. Secondly, it affects muscle tissue, reducing the amount of oxygen needed by muscles during activity. The combined effects have a significant impact on performing physical tasks, whether it involves low-intensity or high-intensity effort.

Past studies have also shown that chronic drinking of beetroot juice, lowers blood pressure and the oxygen cost of submaximal exercise. In a new study, researchers at the University of Exeter, England, compared the effects of acute use of beetroot juice (one serving taken 2.5 hours before exercise) and chronic beetroot juice consumption (5 and 15 days) on blood pressure, the oxygen cost of submaximal exercise, and performance in an incremental exercise test. They found that a single dose of beetroot juice was as effective in lowering blood pressure, reducing the oxygen cost of submaximal exercise, and boosting peak power in an incremental exercise test as 15 days of beetroot juice consumption.

All the researching that I have found, not only is promising to those who are interested in increasing their performance in sports but also for those who may be either suffering from or at risk of developing high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, hypertension or stroke. In this case it may be of interest to older people to include beetroot in their diet or beetroot in capsule form.

So why not give it ago, I know I will be to see if it makes a difference to me.

Sarah Pennicott
Personal Trainer & Pilates Teacher