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How to avoid muscle cramps

crampWith all the New Year health kicks starting off this month we will find many people taking up new sports, gym memberships and activities; or those who are already in a training plan may be pushing harder than normal. The most common, inconvenient, and often debilitating aspect of these new regimes is muscle cramps. Muscle cramps can occur any time, any place, at any part of your training.

Muscle cramps can occur for a wide range of reasons:

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Stretching- What’s it all about?

A topic that everyone who works out discusses at some point! Stretching is a fundamental part of any exercise routine, any injury prevention programme and for anyone who wants to take care of their body.

Muscles are contractile tissues, which means they are designed to contract and tighten in order to allow your body to function, however, if they are not provided with stretching techniques to counteract this the tissues remain with a degree of tightness. Over time this can become greater and greater.

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Hip openers!

Another favourite area for tightening up and causing us problems! The hip joint is a large, complex joint but it is actually often a tight joint, surrounded by the gluteals and smaller rotator muscles that can shorten and restrict the hip even more.

These surrounding muscles are used so much for pelvic stability, which becomes essential for all sports, not least in running. They support the impact from the ground and if well developed, they can reduce the load through the smaller joints like the knee and ankle. However, because they are working so hard they tighten so easily!

Try these 5 hip opening stretches to loosen the hips:

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Hamstring stretching

Everybody hates them. Everybody feels theirs could be more flexible. Everybody is probably right unfortunately! The hamstring muscles are notorious for being tight, because of their location crossing both the hip and knee joints.

In order to fully stretch them you must have the hip and knee fully extended, and hold your stretch! This is a rare position to be in day-to-day and almost all sports and activities involve flexing these joints, so the hamstrings rarely experience full stretch.

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Stretches for the lower back and hips

Day-to-day everyone (or most of us!) comment at some point about a sore lower back, a back stiffness or a hip stiffness, or just being generally stiff! We need to regularly stretch our body and constantly change these positions. If you spend all day sitting, or even just in one similar position for too long your muscles will tighten and adopt to this position. Prolonged use of this will eventually give pain and stiffness. Plus- stretching generally makes us feel good!

Here are 6 stretches to try to relieve lower back and hip tightness and help promote a healthy back!

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