Ask The Experts

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Why does my knee hurt when I am doing the Scooter?

The Scooter exercise is great for strengthening the legs, back and improving balance (have you tried the ‘running arms’ variation?).

However, incorrect positioning of the lower limb can cause excessive pressure on the knee and you may feel a tightness, pressure, or pain behind your kneecap. If you experience any of these symptoms, chances are you are not performing the exercise correctly.

Ensure you start by positioning the supporting leg with hips sitting back, vertical shin, and make sure the knee is not turning inwards past the big toe. You should find yourself leaning your weight away from the reformer foot bar. Maintain this position as you are pushing the reformer carriage during the exercise.

– Cerise Li, Physiotherapist


Why do I get neck, back and/or shoulder tension during back extension exercises or when pushing up through my hands?

Common exercises like the cat/camel, prone press up, and plank require good positioning of your head, neck and shoulders.

Position your hands shoulders’ width distance apart (or slightly wider), with collarbones widened. Glide your shoulder blades gently away from the ears, shoulder blade muscles slightly hugging the spine. This is a preparatory position for exercises, which require you to take weight through your hands.

– Cerise Li, Physiotherapist


Ideally, every segment of the spine should be able to move freely for mobility. Thus, it is important to understand the principle of segmental articulation to avoid hinging to create compression on the mobile part of the spine, commonly on the cervical and lumbar spine.

Emphasise on mobilising the stiff part of the trunk, mostly thoracic segment and stabilising the mobile segment.

-Michele Loh, Pilates Instructor


How can Pilates help me with my sports injury?

If you have a sports injury that is chronic, or caused by repetitive strain, chances are it is caused by a combination of the following: inherent weakness in some of your muscles, poor muscle flexibility, poor posture or movement mechanics, reduced body awareness, and poor understanding of movement.

These concepts are at the core (pardon the pun!) of Pilates principles and enable one to improve on postural awareness and strength and develop better understanding of movements and the forces associated with them.

These go a long way in terms of reducing not just sports injuries, but also many aches and pains associated with chronic overloading e.g. recurring neck and shoulder tension, tennis elbow, and some forms of knee pain.

– Cerise Li, Physiotherapist


How come I don’t feel the ‘work’ or the ‘burn’ in the muscles during classes?

The various exercises selected by your Pilates Instructor in a session may have different objectives. For example some target specific muscle strengthening, while others emphasise flexibility or body awareness. As such you will feel stronger muscle ‘burn’ in certain exercises, and lesser in others.

However, there can be several reasons why you may not be getting the targeted muscle work during a strengthening exercise:


  1. Incorrect positioning – the target muscle will not be in the optimum position to work.


  1. Poor body awareness – not being able to recognise the movement or muscle engagement during the exercise.


  1. Moving too quickly, or holding the breath – rushing through an exercise makes it difficult for the body to ‘digest’ the movement and its objective. Breath holding interrupts the flow of the movement, causing excess tension and often, compensatory movements.


  1. Compensatory movements reduce the actual work that the target area is meant to perform. Addressing points 1-3 above usually help reduce compensatory movements.


– Cerise Li, Physiotherapist


Why do I get shoulder tension during weight bearing exercises such as a plank or quadruped?

Having a good head, neck, and shoulder organisation is essential when bearing weight; this is to achieve the overall balance and strength necessary for optimal movement.

When performing these exercises, your upper limbs should be properly aligned and the shoulder girdle muscles are activated, making sure that the elbows are not hyperextended!

-Michele Loh, Pilates Instructor






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