I just bought myself a new foam roller last week as I had to leave my old one behind in the UK. It’s so exciting to get back on it! I just wanted to share some of my favourite tips for doing supine work (lying on your back, as above) on a foam roller. You can do loads of exercises in this position- curling, lifting one leg at a time, lifting your arms off the floor while one leg is in the air, the sky is the limit! But before you jump in there check out these tips first:
1. Alignment, alignment, alignment!
Before attempting to do any supine stability work on the roller check to make sure you are properly aligned. This can be hard without a teacher but the roller actually makes it a lot easier- if you feel really off balance you are probably misaligned. Check your feet are lined up against the end of your mat, and shift around until your spine is completely straight on the roller.
Visualize your core muscles squeezing you down onto the roller. This includes the front and sides of your torso. Make sure you keep shoulders and neck relaxed, don’t tense everything when you squeeze, just your core muscles.
When moving your legs, make sure you stay long and lengthened. It’s tempting to try to curl into your centre when doing crazy unstable things, but practice holding your body long and confidently. You will actually have more success with stabilizing if the muscles can contract properly out there!
Have you used a foam roller for stability work? Let me know what you like about it!
With my son about to turn 2, I've been thinking a lot about the incredible journey my body has been on these last 3 years. I've also been thinking about how absolutely thankful I am that Pilates has been a part of my life through it all.
I got pregnant about 2 months after I started teaching Pilates. I recall a lot of sweaty, green classes where I was afraid to open my mouth :-( And then I was moving studios- ripping up old carpet, putting down laminate flooring on my hands and knees. A few months later I developed knee problems because of the extra weight, and then pelvic pain near the end (pretty normal when a head is jammed in your pelvis!). Even still, I was able to teach classes up until a week before my son was born. Then, I began practicing Pilates again in my hospital bed about 10 days later.*
Pregnancy is hard work in so many ways. Giving birth is like running a marathon. Breastfeeding is killer for the shoulders. Now, carting my toddler around is pretty tough. Isn't it amazing how we can adapt to new situations? I remember how heavy he felt when I had to hold him in my arms and walk around the living room to get him to sleep at 3 months. Now he's over 30 lbs! I can carry him for ages now- and I still don't know how. Mothers are some of the strongest people in the world.
It's incredible how much you can modify Pilates for every situation. Joseph himself taught people who were bedridden- that's how the Cadillac Reformer machine was born. The most basic of all exercises is simply to engage your core muscles. If you can do that, then you can do it for the rest of your life in almost every situation. That's what I did in that hospital bed- squeeze my core. And it felt great to connect to those muscles again.
People see me walking with my son on my back in his carrier and they ask me "Doesn't that hurt your back?" I simply smile a little to myself and say "Nope, not at all!" And then I squeeze my core, make sure my shoulders are back and down, and keep on walking.
*Please make sure you get the assistance of a qualified instructor if you are pregnant and practicing Pilates.
It’s probably obvious but I love Pilates as an exercise system for everybody- whatever their current fitness level, age or experience (See Joseph above at different ages!). However, I have noticed since arriving in the GTA that most people I speak to are under the impression that Pilates is only for fitness gurus... you know, those who go to the gym all the time, run marathons, or want to add an extra bit of core strength to their existing fitness regime. Obviously Pilates can offer great benefits to those people. However, I have seen first hand how much Pilates can benefit those other regular types who may be recovering from back injuries, or who have chronic conditions such as arthritis (see my testimonials for some of these stories). It was pretty commonly accepted that Pilates could help people with these issues when I taught in the UK- even GP’s were recommending my classes.
Is Pilates as rehabilitation something you have heard of? If so, please let me know how you heard of it and if you have felt the effects firsthand!
Diane Archer, Pilates Instructor from the UK now living back in Canada. Blog of tips, thoughts, home challenges.