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Pilates Toe and Foot Stengthening Exercises
Pilates Toe and Foot Stengthening Exercises

The Abductor Hallucis, as the name suggests, is responsible for abducting the great toe. Great toe abduction is when the toe moves away from the 2nd toe. This is an important muscle to strengthen in people who might be prone to bunions. In the video, you can see that my right great toe abducts more easily than my left and that my left great toe has a slightly more pronounced bunion. I was just able to recruit left AH in the last 6 months and continue to work on strengthening it.

 

Hip Hinge Fundamental on Reformer
Hip Hinge Fundamental on Reformer

In this video, I'm demonstrating a more advanced progression of a hip hinge fundamental. Hip hinges help to disassociate the lumbar spine from the hip joint. Hip hinging is important especially for clients with tight hamstrings and the inability to stabilize the lumbar spine and pelvis when the hamstrings are on length. I have the reformer sprung with one red, but more might be needed if the client was unstable. Watch for the ability to maintain a stable spine at lumbar and cervical. If your client needs an easier option, start them on the floor, in 4 point kneeling, maintain stable spine while moving the hips backwards towards the heels about 3 inches (don't let them sit back or down) The most common errors will be: posterior tilt of pelvis, collapse of scapula and head/ neck misalignments such as neck extension or head drop forward. Enjoy!!

Safe Pilates Spinal Flexion
Safe Pilates Spinal Flexion

I never teach a full forward fold during a roll-up in mat classes. I understand this is a controversial topic, but I’d like to tell you why and offer an alternative to the classic roll-up with this potentially harmful position. Did you know that 60% of the population has a bulging lumbar disc with no back pain symptoms? A study that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine sited these findings and it sent shock waves through the medical community. Think about all the people that you know with back pain symptoms or diagnosed bulging or herniated lumbar disc and the number increases. Now add in all of your clients, friends or family with tight hamstrings too. I don’t know about you but the number is pretty high in my world. Why do I mention hamstrings? Tight hamstrings tend to decrease the natural lordosis of the lumbar spine which can contribute to pain in the low back and increased risk of disc injury.

The forward fold both in yoga and in the Pilates roll-up is a lumbar disc rupture waiting to happen. The idea behind the movement is that bending forward from the lumbar spine with the legs straight will stretch the hamstrings and or the low back and make them more flexible. This just isn’t anatomically possible. If the hamstrings are tight there is a high likelihood that the lumbar region is unstable and will provide the slack needed to bend forward. Increased instability in the low back will result in the structures tightening not becoming more flexible. In addition, deep lumbar spine flexion puts a great deal of stress and tension (up to 200% of body weight) on the tendons, ligaments and muscles in the area and ultimately the lumbar discs. Oh, and it doesn’t stretch the hammies either.

In a mat class we may not get the luxury of assessing every single client to determine if this move is safe for them. Why put them at risk? In the accompanying video, I offer three version of the roll-up; the first is with a full forward fold, the second is with a forward fold into seated long sit posture and the third is with no forward fold. The third is the only roll-up I EVER teach. I like that the client can articulate through the joints of the spine using abdominal and hip flexors as the primary movers, stopping at a seated long sit position to practice good posture, and then articulating back to a supine position. Stopping at seated 90- degree at the hip joint will minimize the hamstring / low back problem I mention earlier. If your client has diagnosed low back issues, they should not be doing ANY lumbar flexion, so I would offer them a completely different exercise when you teach the roll-up.

Preview of Anatomy and Biomechanics
Preview of Anatomy and Biomechanics
Preview of Pilates Interval and Circuit Training
Preview of Pilates Interval and Circuit Training
Preview of Pilates for Back Pain
Preview of Pilates for Back Pain
Preview of Pilates for Healthy Pelvic Floor
Preview of Pilates for Healthy Pelvic Floor
Preview of Pilates for Healthy Feet
Preview of Pilates for Healthy Feet
Proper Form for Pilates Bridge
Proper Form for Pilates Bridge

How high is too high in a Pilates bridge? Whether your bridge is articulating (rolling up with lumbar spinal flexion) or a neutral bridge (stabilizing the lumbar spine in neutral), going too high and into lumbar spinal extension can compress the lumbar spine and sacroiliac joint. In the video, I demonstrate 2 versions of an articulating bridge. In the first, I begin with a pelvic tilt and then continue to articulate my spine off the mat while also recruiting the glutes to lift the hips. My goal is to only go as high as I can continue to hold the lumbar flexion that was established in the initial phase of the bridge, the pelvic tilt. In the second, I articulate through a pelvic tilt, and then recruit the glutes to lift the hips off the mat. However, I then go too high, lose the lumbar flexion from the abdominals and allow the erectors on the posterior side to act as stabilizers while the glutes lift the hips. It doesn't look very comfortable and puts stress on the SI joint and lumbar spine. This position does very little to strengthen the abs and glutes as major players in the core. Watch for this error with your client who tend toward hyper-lordis, or hyper mobility. The same error can occur when doing a neutral bridge. While difficult to spot at first; look for the alignment of the pubic bone to the asis at the top of the bridge. The pubic bone should always be higher than the asis, not lower and not level. Because you have lifted your hips off the mat they are higher than the shoulders in a bridge. So, regardless of the type of bridge mentioned above, the pubic bone would be higher due to the diagonal angle of the spine from hips to mid thoracic spine.