Pilates was pioneered by German born Joseph Hubertus Pilates in the early 20th century. During childhood he was afflicted with many conditions such as asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever. The prognosis for Joseph was not good but he was determined to return his body to peak physical condition. He believed mental and physical health were closely connected. Through this determination he became a competent gymnast, diver, skier and boxer. He devised a series of exercises and training techniques, and engineered all the equipment specifications required to teach his methods properly. These are still the inspiration for the modern day reformer! In the 1920s Pilates emigrated to the U.S and opened a studio in New York where he taught his method of ‘contrology’ for many decades.
There are different types of pilates now from classical and mat pilates to reformer and Stott Pilates which may sound confusing if you haven’t tried them? Whatever pilates class you choose they should all focus on breathing, control, centring and flow. They maybe on a mat or using other equipment such as a reformer machine, and have different styles and influences. These types are also growing now incorporating for example barre or yoga.
Pilates is a great way to strengthen the body so find one that suits you and is right for the goals you want to achieve. Pilates uses a series of exercises designed to engage your core and lower back to improve posture, flexibility, stamina and strength. It is also used a lot to help reduce injuries such as back and neck pain and for general rehabilitation. It helps to get the body back in balance by a series of exact, controlled movements, targeting specific muscle groups and helping to identify where stronger or weaker areas are.
Pilates can be used for all ages and levels of fitness and ability as all the exercises can be progressed or regressed (modified) for each individual. It is great for toning the body by combining exercise and stretching into routines. This type of exercise is even more relevant due to lifestyle factors such as long working hours, being seated for long periods of times and for mental health aspects to name a few. It is important to find a certified instructor with a good qualification, someone who you enjoy working with. If you are very new to pilates or have specific injuries I would recommend either someone that specialises in your area of concern or find a small group class or one to one session to begin with.
So, it goes without saying that currently as individuals, our hands are under much more stress than usual.
With the much-needed constant hand washing and hand sanitising, our poor hands are certainly being put through their paces at the moment. When it comes to safety, we need to make sure we’re doing this, but how can we also protect our hands from becoming dry and sore?
By now we all know that each time we wash our hands with soap and water, it should be for a minimum of 20 seconds which equates to singing the Happy Birthday song twice. On top of that the hand sanitizers we carry around with us should contain a minimum of 60% alcohol…what does this mean? Put simply it means that unless you’re extremely unique to what is happening, then like me your hands must be very very very dry (I repeated that 3 times to place a lot of emphasis on how dry my hands get at the moment).
Now, I’m not a health professional, but I’ve spoken with a few that wash their hands over 75 times a day, and some over 100 times a day because of the work they do. As well as getting or exasperating dry skin conditions such as eczema, rosacea and psoriasis, what they also have is very sore hands…dry, sore and cracked hands! From your own experience, you’ll know that alcohol dries out the skin, and although soap and water wash away dirt and germs, they also strip away the natural protective oils in our skin, which causes our skin to dry out.
So, what can we all do to help our hands? Here’s a few recommendations I’ve tried recently:
During the day, each time you wash your hands, instead of rubbing them dry, pat them and leave them slightly damp.
Whilst your hands are still slightly damp use a good quality hand/body moisturiser, as this helps to lock in the moisturiser. Try to keep away from lotions as they have a high-water content and this can add to the dryness.
From experience I know body butters or oil-based creams are more effective, due to having no water or less water than lotions. Personally, I make and use my own blend of butters and oils which have no water.
If you don’t have a good quality oil-based moisturiser then try items from the kitchen such as olive oil, coconut oil or avocado oil.
If you’re taking your moisturiser out of the house, don’t share an open pot as this can spread germs
If you’re busy cleaning around the home, do wear rubber gloves when you’re using cleaning products. The harsh chemicals in the cleaning products can cause damage to the hands.
Before going to bed wash your hands in warm water, pat them dry and use a good quality moisturiser straight away. The more natural it is the better. The thicker it is the better
Put on a pair of gloves for either several hours or throughout your time asleep.
From my own experience, my preference is bamboo gloves. Just like bamboo sheets, tights or leggings, they help prevent the skin from drying out, are health and eco-friendly, biodegradable, antibacterial, comfortable and the bamboo fibre is cool to the skin. These are a must for those with dry skin conditions. You can wash them at 60 Degrees Celsius, so they can be used over and over again (we have bamboo bed sheets at home for my son’s eczema and he love them). Another added bonus is that you can wear your gloves inside your rubber cleaning gloves.
Cotton gloves are a cheaper alternative to wear at bedtime, but can be drying for those with dry skin conditions such as eczema, rosacea and psoriasis.
If you don’t have any gloves you can wear socks on your hands at bedtime as a last resort
If you have money to spare and really want to pamper your hands with luxury, there’s also silk gloves as an option. They’re naturally hypoallergenic and can also help your moisturiser penetrate deeper into the skin. They can be washed at 30 Degrees Celsius and can therefore also be washed over and over again.
If you have dry hands that aren’t sore, mix a tablespoon of oil (from the kitchen) with half a teaspoon of sugar and/or fine salt. Once you’ve combined the ingredients together in a bowl, use the mixture as an exfoliator for the hands. Wash the hands first, then exfoliate the hands (can also be used on the body), rinse off with warm water, moisturise your hands then pop your gloves on.
And there you have it!
I’m sure there’s lots of ideas out there for how to look after our hands so feel free to put some forward…the more the merrier
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