Entries in Anatomy (25)
By Madeline Black
It is not uncommon to see Pilates teachers use props during a session. The intention is to enable the client to move in optimal alignment. But, is it appropriate to use a prop? Yes, when there is an understanding of why the prop is being used and it facilitates the intended response. But too many times, props are used out of habit.
One common prop habit is placing a ball between the thighs (or knees) while performing Footwork on the Reformer. The ball brings the legs together and/or holds them in place, preventing a client from splaying open her thighs when pressing the carriage out and knocking her knees when returning the carriage home. This can actually hinder the healthy movement sequence intended in this exercise, and I would suggest that we break this habit. Our goal is to encourage optimal leg alignment while executing Pilates in a dynamic and functional way, not in a held position. Here’s a closer look at why it doesn’t serve the client to use a ball during Footwork.
It’s time again for another Pilates on Call, our open Q&A with Pilates and movement experts. Liz Koch, an expert on the psoas, has kindly volunteered to answer any and all of your questions about this deep, important muscle. For a general background on the posas, you can read her article Intro to the Psoas.
If you have questions about how the psoas relates to Pilates, now is your chance to get answers. You can leave your questions for Liz in the comments section below or email email@example.com. Liz will get to them as quickly as possible, but might need a day or two to respond.
ABOUT LIZ KOCH
Liz Koch is an international somatic educator and creator of Core Awareness™ focusing on awareness for exploring human potential. With over 30 years experience working with and specializing in the iliopsoas, she is recognized in the somatic, bodywork and fitness professions as an authority on the core muscle. Liz is the author of The Psoas Book, Unraveling Scoliosis, Core Awareness: Enhancing Yoga, Pilates, Exercise & Dance, and The Psoas and Back Pain. Approved by the USA National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB) as a continuing education provider, Liz Koch is a member of the International Movement Educators Association (IMA). Learn more at coreawareness.com.
By Liz Koch
Feeling vibrant within your core ultimately depends upon a healthy, juicy and responsive psoas. The psoas (pronounced so-as) is your core muscle and an integral aspect of a centered and functional body. As a major player in back pain, knee injuries and tight hip sockets, it is often the exhausted psoas that disrupts range of motion, as well as digestion, bladder functioning and sexual pleasure.
WHERE IS THE PSOAS?
Your psoas is located deep within your core, growing out of the spine at approximately the twelfth thoracic vertebra (the area called the solar plexus), and moves through the pelvis, crossing over the ball and socket joints into the inner thighbones at the lesser trochanter. Being the only muscle to connect your spine to your legs, the psoas moves through the core like a pendulum synchronizing the free swinging of the leg when walking.
By Pat Guyton
Sooner or later someone is going to run into your studio, looking for information that will improve speed, endurance and efficient breathing. They may or may not understand how Pilates can complement running. Whether the student is a competitive athlete or an individual who runs for health and fitness, distance and speed become much easier and less stressful on the body if a runner is free from pain and injury. A requirement for any sport or exercise program involves the development of a comprehensive exercise program that works all of the muscles in every range of motion. As a teacher, you are instrumental not only in introducing the exercise technique, but in the development of the individual program. If the runner can gain some immediate results, they will have the optimum motivation to continue Pilates work.
It is a good idea to understand the psychology of runners when they come to Pilates. Most of them simply tied on shoes and started to run, but did not consider learning how.
By Dianne Wise
The Foot Corrector is that small, saddle-like piece of equipment you’ve probably seen on the floor in Pilates studios. It was designed by Joseph Pilates himself, just like the rest of the Pilates apparatus, yet it seems not to be used as frequently. After all, how many of our clients ask us to work out…their feet?
Developing a “foot program” for your clients, however, can yield many benefits. A lot of people don’t realize that our bodies’ joint-alignment begins with the feet, which act much like the foundation of a house. If the foundation is not properly laid down, the rest of the structure does not have a stable base of support. To compensate, some parts of the structure might take on more weight than they’re designed to hold and can become damaged, or simply buckle. As the foundation for our bodies, our feet do a lot of work supporting our body weight. They also endure the abuse of walking on hard surfaces all day long. It’s very important to keep them healthy and happy— too often they are ignored.
There are many excellent options for working the feet in Pilates: apparatus exercises such as Footwork on the Reformer or Parakeet on the Cadillac mobilize and strengthen, while props like small hard balls (for tissue release) and Therabands (for spot-strengthening) are excellent for detailed work. The Foot Corrector, however, is the only piece of Pilates apparatus that works the feet in a weight-bearing, and therefore functional, position.
Pilates On Call is a month-long, open Q&A session with an expert, so this is your opportunity to ask about the finer points of Pilates exercise with this population. Perhaps you’d like advice for working with a newly pregnant client, or information about a particular pregnancy-related condition.
We’re thrilled to welcome Debra Goodman, MSPT, back to the site. She’s written several popular articles on Pilates and pregnancy for us, and has an extensive background treating pregnant and postpartum patients. She is one of few physical therapists trained in internal evaluation and treatment of the pelvic floor muscles. And we’re equally thrilled to introduce Amanda Martin, owner of balance in Athens, Georgia, a Pilates and wellness studio that specializes in working with pregnant and post-natal clientele, among other populations. She has been doing this kind of Pilates work since 2004.
Post your questions in the comments section below or email them to us firstname.lastname@example.org. Debra and Amanda will get to them as quickly as possible, but might need a day or two to respond.
We thought we’d ask what you would like to see on Pilates-Pro.com this year. This is a great opportunity to speak up and let us know what kind of coverage you’re looking for. Vote for the category that most represents your needs.
If there’s something you’d like to see that we didn’t mention, please share specific requests in the comments section below. Do you have a burning Pilates question you think we can help answer? Or perhaps there’s a topic you’d like to suggest we look into? This is your chance to let us know!
As 2009 draws to a close and we refocus our energies on the year to come, it’s nice to reflect on the year past. Thus it’s time for our very own Pilates-Pro.com “Year in Review,” a countdown of the site’s 10 most popular articles in 2009. (This is a great place to start if you’re just discovering us!) We’d like to extend huge thanks to all of the innovative, thoughtful, dedicated and generally amazing Pilates experts who contributed to Pilates-Pro.com this year. Kudos as well to the growing number of community members who use the articles and forums as a place for lively, insightful discussion. Pilates-Pro.com continues to grow because of you. And of course, if you have topics you’d like us tackle in 2010, please drop a line and let us know!
1. Pilates for Scoliosis by Suzanne Martin, PT, DPT
2. Pilates for Feet by Madeline Black
3. Five Ways to Combine Cardio and Pilates by Nicole Rogers
4. Pilates on Call with Siri Dharma Galliano
5. Postpartum Recovery: Helping New Moms Get Their Bodies Back by Debbi Goodman, MSPT
6. 16 Fitness Wear Discounts for Pilates Instructors by Christine Binnendyk
7. Pilates DVD Review: The Jump Board Workout by Nicole Rogers
8. Pilates on Call: Core Conditioning PTs
9. Five Ways to Hook Men on Pilates by Julian Littleford
10. Five Ways to Build Successful Client-Instructor Relationships by Devra Swiger
By Lauri Stricker
The exhilaration of soaring down a mountainside over a blanket of sparkling white snow, surrounded by pristine evergreens and an endless blue sky inspires millions of people to ski every year. It’s no small reward for countless hours spent in the car, in lift lines, and on bristling cold lift rides to the top of the mountain.
In the Colorado Rockies, where I live, I have cross-trained skiers with Pilates from October to March for the past seven years. My sessions often start with snow reports, gear reviews, and tales of anticipated heli trips and back-country hut adventures. I’ve worked with all kinds of skiers, from strictly downhill resort skiers to purist tele-skiers (who make use of a style of cross country ski that leaves the heel free). Whether they prefer groomers, moguls, or powder, they all want to be in top form for skiing. Many of my skiing clients can only make time for Pilates workouts midweek because of their weekend skiing excursions. They might range in age, fitness level or ski preference, but they train with me religiously every winter for the same reasons: to get strong, stay injury free, and enjoy winter fun in the mountains. A client with a goal is a motivated client, and skiers are both. Pilates is an excellent way to keep skiers fit and coming back to your studio season after season.
Pilates and Fall Line Fitness
If you made a snow ball and let it roll down the side of a mountain, the path it rolls down is called the fall line. To ski the fall line with finesse and control requires flowing motion, rhythm, and precision. This agility on the slopes is what I call “Fall Line Fitness.” A strong core, muscle balance, and flexibility are essential elements of Fall Line Fitness. You do not have to be a ski instructor to make a direct impact on your client’s ski fitness. However, you do have to be an alignment specialist skilled at teaching high quality movement.
By Alexa Thorson
Curves, Twists and Bends: A Practical Guide to Pilates for Scoliosis is a useful introduction to the topic from Annette Wellings, a Pilates instructor with major scoliosis, and U.K. master Pilates teacher Alan Herdman. The book is a useful tool for addressing scoliosis through exercise, both for those who have the condition and for Pilates instructors with scoliotic clients. Wellings makes it clear in her introduction that the exercises in this book “are not designed to restructure the curve,” but to enable the spine to be “as healthy and supple as possible.”
Wellings and Herdman have assembled a set of 34 exercises primarily focused on stretching and lengthening, that are appropriate for people with symptoms ranging from mild to severe scoliosis, and even for the general population. I often incorporate similar exercises in my mat classes to warm people up before harder Pilates choreography. This book does not address Pilates equipment or even the classic Pilates mat choreography.
Curves, Twists and Bends is structured in three parts. The first, called ‘Understanding and Awareness’ is a straightforward, uncomplicated overview of the condition of scoliosis, and a discussion of curve patterns, with an explanation of how to identify different types of scoliotic curves, complete with drawings. It even includes a section on “the psychology of scoliosis.”
The second, called ‘Exercises for Flexibility and Posture’ establishes a set of exercise principles that Pilates instructors will find familiar, such as pelvic stability, balancing dominant and weak sides of the body, and de-rotation of the pelvis, ribs and spine.