Diastasis Recti – A Common Finding in Postnatal

October 2nd, 2017













Heard of Diastasis Recti but not sure what it is? In this article, one of our internationally qualified physiotherapists, Candice will share with you on this common condition that sometimes occurs as a result of pregnancy.

What is it?

Diastasis Recti (also known as Rectus Diastasis) is a separation of the rectus abdominus muscle, or often known as the ‘six-pack’ muscle. During pregnancy, the belly expands to accommodate the growing baby, which causes stretching of your connective tissues. Sometimes, the rectus abdominis muscle can stretch so much that it pulls apart in the middle. It occurs most often in the second and third trimester and can persist after birth. For some women, it closes naturally on its own slowly after birth but for others, a mild to severe gap can linger unnoticed. Symptoms such as low back pain, hip pain, and urinary incontinence can also be associated with this condition.


What does it look like?

You may notice a bulge or doming in the mid-belly region, especially when you transition from lying to sitting. A simple test that you can do is to lie on your back with knees bent and feet on the floor. Place your index and middle fingers at the belly button and lift your head up. Do the same test while placing the fingers a few centimeters above and below the button. If you notice there is a gap of about two finger widths or more at any of those areas, then you likely may have diastasis recti. However, if you are still very early post-partum, this can be a normal finding. A trained health care professional such as a physiotherapist can also help you test for this and gather a more detailed assessment of the diastasis recti gap as well as your overall posture and strength, especially in the pelvic girdle region.


How can I treat it?

Try to avoid exercises that place excessive intra-abdominal pressure on the front abdominal wall. Avoid doing your traditional sit-ups, crunches, and planks as well as challenging exercises such as double leg lifts, which can also cause too much strain for the abdominals. Start by focusing on simple exercises that engage the deepest core muscles such as your pelvic floor and the innermost abdominal muscle called your transverse abdominis. Your physiotherapist can provide you with treatment in recruiting these muscles properly and guiding you through specific exercises that are aimed at closing the diastasis recti gap. They will also be able to provide feedback on how to improve your breathing pattern and posture and recommend safe ways for performing your daily activities such as lifting the baby and getting in and out of bed. With large gaps of about four finger widths, an abdominal binder that is fitted properly is recommended to help with approximating the two sides of the abdominal wall.


-Candice Kwok, Physiotherapist




Healthy Double Chocolate Cookies

September 22nd, 2017














You know that feeling when you are craving some guilt-tripping, chocolaty goodness but you just refuse to give in to the temptation? This wholesome double chocolate cookie recipe will do the trick as you indulge in its brown richness without any of that refined sugar, eggs, butter, and gluten! They’re safe for you nut-allergic cookie lovers as well.


Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Prep time: 5 min – Cook time: 15 min



  • 2-3 large, ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup barely warm coconut oil (not solid)
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup ground sunflower seeds
  • 1/3 cup cacao powder
  • 1/3 cup coconut, finely shredded & unsweetened
  • 1/2 tsp fine grain sea salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 170 grams chocolate chips or dark chocolate bar chopped



  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix the bananas, vanilla extract, and coconut oil in a large bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the oats, sunflower seeds, cacao powder, shredded coconut, salt, and baking powder. Add the mixture and stir until combined.
  4. Fold in the chocolate chunks/chips.
  5. Drop 1-2 tablespoons dollops of the dough for each cookie, an inch apart, onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 13 – 15 minutes or until golden on the bottoms.
  6. Serve and enjoy!


Recipe and image courtesy of 101cookbooks.com.




Exercises for Stronger Abdominals

August 24th, 2017

Juggling between work and life have made keeping our bodies healthy day-to-day even harder, causing us to become more injury prone due to our unhealthy movement patterns. One of the most common forms of pain people experience is lower back pain, however, do you know that by strengthening your lower abdominals can help to support your back better and prevent it from injury?

First of all, to locate your lower abdominal muscle (Transverse Abdominal), lie down on your back; bring your knees up towards the ceiling, feet flat on the floor. Bring your index and middle fingers onto the muscle just inside of your hip bones and cough. You should feel a muscle contract; this is your TA, and the muscle we use to focus on in Pilates.

Here are some basic exercises, which are perfect for strengthening your lower abdominals, this will take no more than ten minutes so you can easily do them lying on your bedroom floor at home with a mat or towel underneath you.

Check out the video and follow the three simple exercises to stronger abdominals!



– Georgie Kahvedjioglou, Pilates Instructor


Barley Crepes with Yoghurt and Cinnamon

July 20th, 2017

Barley crepes











If you can’t decide between a cup of Greek yoghurt and a plate of delectable crepes for breakfast, why not have them both? A barley crepe with yoghurt and cinnamon is an irresistible pancake recipe that is sure to love! Barley Flour is used in this recipe and is a great alternative to wheat flour as it has lower gluten content and packs more fibre. This is also especially suitable for those who are allergic to wheat.

Top it off with bananas and cinnamon, a sweet spice, which is rich in antioxidant and you are ready to enjoy this incredible goodness!


  • Crepes
  • 1/4 cup Barley Flour
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 tbsp walnut oil
  • 1 cup whole milk Greek yogurt
  • 2 medium bananas
  • 4 tsp honey
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon


  1. In a bowl, add barley flour, salt, eggs, milk and oil and whisk until smooth. Heat the pan and lightly grease with oil. Pour ¼ cup of batter to cover the entire pan and cook for about 30 seconds. Flip and cook for another 15 seconds.
  2. Peel and cut banana into 1/2 slices. Mix with honey and cinnamon in a pan and simmer over medium heat until bananas are tender for 3-4 minutes.
  3. On one side of the crepe, spread 1/4-cup of yogurt and layer a few bananas on top, folder over, and repeat with remaining crepes. Drizzle honey and remaining banana slices over crepes and serve.


Recipe and image courtesy of naturallyella.com.



Don’t Run to Get Fit, Get Fit to Run

June 29th, 2017














Running is one of the most practised sports in the world, and although we are all born to run, many are still susceptible to getting injured. In this issue, our Runity Master Trainer and Exercise Physiologist, Daniel has shared with us on his latest running experience in Peru and some insights on getting started.

“I just got back from a run in Arequipa Peru at 2,300m and it certainly wasn’t as easy as normal. However, at the end of the run, my running App declared that it was my “17th fastest run”! As my lungs laboured in the thin air it got me thinking, while running is a natural function, there is still a lot that goes into giving us the physical capacity to be able to run. In this case, while there isn’t much I can do about the reduced oxygen content of the air, I need time for the red blood cell production to increase to match my demand for oxygen, so I can burn more fat prolonging the point of fatigue.

Previously, I wrote an article about reducing the amount of load and force through our body, just by increasing our cadence by 5% (number of steps taken per minute). That equates to over 100 tonnes (or the weight of 70 cars) for a 60kg person over 5km run. Imagine the force that is still passing through the tissues of our body when we run, it’s no wonder that without adequate conditioning, running injury rates are reported up to 80% per year.

When we run, these forces tend to travel through the same path with every step, challenging the capacity of the tissues. It is well known that our tissues such as the muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones are in a constant state of remodelling based on the load that passes through them. If the load is less than the tissues capacity, the tissues get weaker, our muscles decrease in strength, tendons lose their spring, and bones start to weaken. This happens when our lives become sedentary and is the reason why many people develop chronic injuries such as back pain.

If the load surpasses our tissues capacity within a certain range, the cells in our body will be stimulated to strengthen our tissues against the increased load. Our muscles will then get stronger and have more endurance, improved elasticity in our tendons can also recycle energy better to make running more efficient. At the same time, our cardiovascular fitness improves, so does the efficiency of our lungs and heart.

The danger here is that our cardiovascular fitness increases much faster than our tissues adaptation and strengthening, so we feel that we can run more often and further. This is often where a newbie runner will develop an injury. In this case the load and force passing through our body exceeds our tissues capacity, we develop muscle, tendon or joint inflammation and pain. We need to back off our running or stop altogether for a while, which is necessary for recovery, however this brings us back to the other extreme where our tissues start to weaken again, leaving us with even less capacity then when we started, hence starting over a cycle that is sure to see us get re-injured

Running alone won’t be able to condition our body sufficiently for the demands of even recreational running, especially when most of us spend long hours at the desk. Hence, special conditioning exercises are required to prepare our body, allowing us to run without injury and enjoy the whole process more. While specific Pilates exercises can help with this, even better however are the specialist running conditioning exercises from our new Runity programme”.

From the end of July, running assessments will be offered in our studios, with a conditioning exercise programme prescribed based on your running technique using video analysis and movement assessment to keep you injury free.


Please click here for full details on our Runity package. Running conditioning group classes will also be available from 27th July onwards, so stay tuned!

If you have any questions about running, kindly drop us a message on our Facebook page and our Runity Master Trainer and Head Instructor will help to answer it!


-Daniel Dittmar, Runity Master Trainer and Exercise Physiologist



How to Prevent the Common Neck Pain

May 26th, 2017


Neck pain is one of the most common symptoms we see with clients at Focus Pilates and about 4 out of 5 of these cases are work-related. More specifically, the common neck pain is mainly due to poor working habits at the desk.

Most of us, even with the healthiest and fittest body, are not built to sit or stand for long periods of time; our bodies are made to move (except when you are asleep, but even then, we still move, just not consciously). That is why it is unrealistic to expect ourselves to be able to sit at a desk for long hours at a time, on a regular basis, and get away with it.

The good news is, it does not take much for us to do to prevent this common neck pain. To start off, here are two simple tips you can follow:

1)      Take a 2-minute break every hour and perform these three easy stretches:

  • Seated Upper Back Stretch
    Sit upright at the edge of your chair, palms flat on your desk, feet on the floor. Focus on your shoulder blades. Keep your arms straight as you pull your chest forwards towards the desk by gently squeezing your shoulder blades together. Then reverse the movement by pushing your chest away from the desk and allowing your shoulder blades to spread apart across your upper back. Do not allow your shoulders to shrug up towards your ears. Repeat this sequence 10 times.
  • Seated Cat-Camel stretch
    Remain seated upright at the edge of your chair, with palms flat on the desk and feet on the floor. Keep your arms straight and round your chest away from your desk; allow your spine to curl into a C-shape, but be careful not to shrug your shoulders. Reverse the movement by arching your back and reaching your lower ribs towards your desk. Repeat this sequence 10 times.
  • Seated Trunk Rotation stretch
    Continue in the same seated position as the other two exercises. Keep one hand on your desk as you open the other arm out to the side and reach towards the back of the room, allowing your head and chest to rotate with the arm, but your hips should remain still. Repeat on the other side. Repeat this sequence 10 times.

Like with learning any new routine or habit, it will take some effort in the beginning, but after practising for a week, it should become a lot more natural.
Top Tips to make it work: 1. Set an hourly alarm on your mobile phone or calendar. 2. Get a stretch buddy to remind each other on the hour. 3. Stick a post-it or sticker on the side of your monitor as a reminder.

Please note: exercises should be pain-free when performed. If you have any pre-existing neck or back conditions or are unsure of any of the exercises, please contact us to make an appointment with one of our qualified physiotherapists.


2)      Check your work station ergonomics 

  • The seat should be at a height where your feet can be comfortably rested on the floor or on a footrest.
  • The chair should be close enough to your desk that your elbows are almost touching the side of your ribs when you are typing, writing or using the mouse. If necessary, position your keyboard and mouse closer to you (i.e. closer to the edge of your desk).
  • Top of your computer/laptop screen should be level with your eyes.

Click here to read more on setting up your work station properly. Follow the checklist and start stretching!


– Max Teong, Physiotherapist

Beat the Heat with Coconut Ice-cream

May 26th, 2017

Coconut ice-cream















Do you know that coconut is a great source of fibre, minerals and vitamins? This highly nutritious fruit is also suitable for those who are lactose intolerant.

In this edition, we have found an all-time favourite coconut ice-cream recipe that comes just in time, as the weather gets warmer in our sunny island!

Top it off with fresh antioxidant-rich berries to make it extra refreshing – a healthy dessert that allows you to indulge without feeling guilty!


Prepares approximately 4 cups of ice cream.


  • Ice Cream Maker
  • Blender


  • 60 – 400ml Cans of Coconut Milk
  • 3 to 4 Vanilla Beans
  • 3/4 to 1 Cup Raw Honey
  • A Pinch of Sea Salt
  • Fresh Raspberries or Blueberries (optional)


  1. Slice open the vanilla beans and scoop the vanilla out of the pods (1 teaspoon).
  2. In the blender, add the coconut milk, vanilla, honey and salt and blend until smooth.
  3. Pour the mixture into ice cream maker and freeze. Serve.


Recipe courtesy of thecoconutmama.com



Pilates for Women

April 25th, 2017









Pilates is a wonderful low-impact exercise that is suitable for everyone and is especially ideal for new mums or mums-to-be, whether it be a growing bump, a new little bundle or an active toddler.

Known for toning and strengthening your muscles (particularly the pelvic floor!), Pilates is also great in creating flexibility and increasing endorphin production – those great hormones which promote happier moods and a more restful sleep!

In this special edition, we have rounded up three insightful articles written by our team of experienced physiotherapists and Instructors on how Pilates can help prepare you for your pregnancy as well as recovery after giving birth.

Contact our studios today to find out the available packages suitable for you.

Happy Mother’s Day, mamas!



Painless Running with Runity

March 31st, 2017

Running edit












Running is a skill that humans are supremely adapted for, there are more than 20 physiological and biomechanical qualities and adaptations that make us one of the most efficient running animals on earth. While we are far from the fastest or the strongest animal on earth, we, however, have the ability to outrun many other animals over long distances. Elite human runners, while slow over the short course, will beat almost any other animal including elite horses due to the unique advantages of the body heat regulation and breathing.

Running is also associated with various significant health benefits such as 40-76% lower risk of certain types of cancer, and running 10-15min per day reduces the risk of death from all-cause mortality by 29%. Despite the high injury rate reported at between 20-80% per year, it is, however, one of the most practised sports amongst working adults in Singapore. So if we are born runners, why are we getting injured so often? One of the most common reasons people run is to get fit. However, the old adage that says, “you need to get fit to play golf, not play golf to get fit” is also applicable to running. Running like any physically demanding activity requires the body to be prepared for it, to prevent any form of injuries.

Running place many physical demands on our bodies and if we do not have the right conditioning of the pelvis, legs, feet and the rest of the body, chances of you getting injured are high. There are also several factors that influence our running efficiency such as running style and technique, which are surprisingly easy to modify.

An example of which is our running cadence (number of steps taken per minute), by adjusting your cadence by as little as 5%, we can significantly reduce loading through the hip knee and ankle joint. In fact, it can reduce the amount of force passing through your heel by 565 times your body weight. So for a 60kg runner over 5km, that is over 100,000 tonnes (the weight of 70 cars!). If you want to fully reap the benefits of running, which are not just physiological but also psychological, it is worth putting the time into getting your body conditioned to run.

We are pleased to announce that Focus Pilates will be hosting for the first time in Asia, the Runity coaching programme. Its popularity is spreading rapidly throughout the US, Europe and Australia and we are honoured to have the founder of the programme, Juan Nieto to join us and conduct the course. This course is suitable for all running enthusiasts or those who want to develop their running coaching skills. In the course, you will learn how to assess running style through movement screening and video analysis, as well as exercises to prescribe and condition yourself or other runners.

Date: 26-28 May 2017
Location: Raffles Place, 22 Malacca St, RB Capital Building, #08-00 Singapore 048980
Website: https://runity.run/public/
For more information, please email courses@focuspilates.com.sg and we hope to see you there.

Focus Pilates will soon be introducing Running Analysis to clients, so stay tuned!


-Daniel Dittmar, Head Instructor




March 31st, 2017

  apr nutrition









We all know that green juice and smoothie is good for you. But a healthy smoothie doesn’t always have to be green. This April, we are happy to share with you a brightly coloured fruit smoothie recipe that will leave you feeling refreshed and energised!

Consists of banana, strawberry and beetroot, this perfect trio combination are packed with nutrients including powerful antioxidants, fibre, vitamin C and potassium that are vital for a healthy diet.

Enjoy this cup of refreshing smoothie in the morning to feel good all day long.


  • 1/2 cup cooked beets
  • 1/2 sliced of banana
  • 1/2 cup strawberries (about 4 pieces) roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup of plain or flavoured Greek yogurt
  • 1-2 teaspoons honey (optional)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3-4 ice cubes


  1. In a blender, place all ingredients and blend for at least a minute or until smooth.


Recipe and image courtesy of homemadenutrition.com.