5 Workout Do’s & Don’ts

Classic Quad Stretch  I see this classic gym stretch all the time.  Practice it with your knee back further than you think it needs to be.  Then tuck your bum underneath you to fully stretch the quad and hip flexors.

Classic Calf Stretch  Make sure your foot is completely perpendicular to the wall, otherwise we are only stretching one portion of the calf muscles and Achilles tendon, possibly setting us up for injury.  Also, try it with your back knee bent as well as straight, this will get the deeper soleus muscle!

The popular Double Leg Lift  Please don’t do this one, ever (and I rarely say NEVER to things). It’s the worst you can do, please stop doing it.  The risks outweigh the benefits due to the excessive compressive forces placed on the intervertebral discs.  These mechanics set your body up for injury, maybe not now, but over time that pressure causes break down in the connective tissues.  Plus, the prime movers here are the hip flexors; the abdominal muscles are simply stabilizing the spine…although not successfully.  I’m happy to dig deeper into the clinical mess of the mechanics, but I think you get the picture.

What should we do instead?  Pilates. I’m biased, not because I own a Pilates studio, but because I have seen the benefits on thousands of my patients on lower back pain, spinal stability, and quality of life.  Pick a skilled Pilates studio with true Pilates training.  Or, just come see us. 😉

Squats & Lunges Alone  These are only working your glutes half way by only working the hip joint in one range. With traditional exercises like these we are missing the pure 30 degrees of hip extension produced by a whole other segment of our gluteus maximus or bum muscles.  Please see my post on my love of the glute muscles and focus on working “terminal hip extension,” like in this oldie but a goodie.  I truly believe activating our glutes correctly and effectively will enhance and lengthen our lives.

Linear Workouts Only  Yes, rowing is good, running is great, and burpees are hard!  But…please add in some rotation and movements outside of that one plane.  Our bodies don’t move in just one plane — our muscle fibers and joints are not arranged that way.  We are very three-dimensional.  We move front to back, yes, but we also move side to side, we twist, we torque, and we combine all these movements together.  Seek a pro to help you introduce these moments into your workout routine, they will improve your life.

For example, I have a fair share of runners who are up to the Pilates challenge.  I can always tell when I have a runner in class.  They tend to struggle with the exercises that demand lateral stability or anything outside of that forward linear trajectory.  But this is a good struggle for them, it shows they are getting stronger!  Runners need this challenge to help improve their performance and prevent injury from repetitive motions.

Our schedule is filled with multidimensional and fulfilling classes designed to balance and strengthen your body from the inside out.  Our Specialized Series will fine tune the body during injury, pregnancy, or if you just want a bit more attention as a beginner.

We are in the process of licensing and teaching our HAWT Pilates signature exercise method that focuses on high-level concepts like these.  For more information click here or email me directly.  We are excited to spread the Mind the Mat love one sweaty core at a time.

  • The latest from Megan
Megan Brown, physical therapist, Pilates instructor, mother and co-founder of Mind the Mat Pilates & Yoga in Alexandria, VA, likes to goof around. Yet her commitment to her students and her skill set in the field is no joke. After graduating from University of Virginia with a degree in Sports Medicine, Megan went on to receive her Masters in Physical Therapy and eventually her Doctorate in the profession. Although Pilates was never part of the plan, the method changed the way she treated patients, positively re-directed her career path and enhanced her own active lifestyle. Customized Pilates instruction is her specialty–she designs classes based on clients needs: athletes, new moms, rehabilitation or just for fun (why be serious all the time?). Pilates + Yoga is the best of both worlds, hence the creation of Mind the Mat studios providing classes for all—in every walk of life.

Mind the Mat Pilates & Yoga was founded in 2008 by Megan Brown, Doctor of Physical Therapy and Polestar Certified Practitioner of Pilates for Rehabilitation and Sara VanderGoot, Nationally Certified Massage Therapist and Registered Yoga Teacher (e-RYT 200, RYT 500). In their private practices as physical therapist and massage therapist respectively Megan and Sara observed that many of their clients were coming in with similar needs: relief for neck and shoulder tension and low back pain as well as a desire for more flexibility in hips and legs, stability in joints, and core strength.

Together Megan and Sara carefully crafted a curriculum of Pilates and yoga classes to address needs for clients who are pregnant, postpartum, have injuries or limitations, who are new to Pilates and yoga, and for those who are advanced students and are looking for an extra challenge.


2214 Mount Vernon Avenue
Alexandria, VA 22301


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Get your daily dose of all things fashion, beauty, fitness, and design. Locally sourced and locally styled!