Finding My Range of Motion

Good Morning Readers!

When I started really getting into Pilates, I was mostly watching online videos or just following a workout guide downloaded from the internet. It took me 8 years to figure out how my body really wanted to move and understanding my own range of motion.

Online videos and in particular, downloaded workout guides, never seem to get into how different bodies work in terms of finding a comfortable range. YouTube instructors are of course in amazing shape and have incredible flexibility, which is dangerous if those watching the video do not factor this in. 

Double leg lift was the position with which I had my first ‘A-ha” moment. I originally learned this move with the following instructions;

  1. Lie supine on your mat
  2. Ensuring your lower back is pressed into the mat, use your lower abs to pull your legs up to a 90 degree angle, feet, knees and hip bones all stacked..
  3. Using the lower abs, let your legs float down until they are a few inches from the ground, ensuring the low back remains pressed into the mat.
  4. Pulling with the lower abs, draw your straight legs back up to a 90 degree angle,
  5. Repeat.

Most of these instructions are great. It is important to pull the legs using the abs so the quads don’t do all the work, and to protect the lower back by ensuring that it remains firmly pressed on the mat.

However I WAS feeling it in my quads and my hip flexors. I used my hands under my tailbone to support my lower back and even with the added support the movement was uncomfortable. 

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I felt a little dejected. 

AND THEN…

Literally in my first mat teacher training course, I learned this movement 1000% differently than I had practiced it all those years and I felt my abs more than ever.

The way I do this movement now;

  1. Lie supine on your mat
  2. Ensuring your lower back is pressed into the mat and use your lower abs to pull your legs up to a 90 degree, stacked over the hip bones.
  3. Using the lower abs, let your legs float down to the bottom of your range of motion,
  4. Pulling with the lower abs, draw your straight legs back up to a 90 degree angle,
  5. Repeat.

Just this TINY change made a huge difference in my workout.

My spine is curved and I have a large booty, therefore because of the shape of my body, it is not advisable for me to attempt to lower and lift my legs in the full range demonstrated by so many instructors online!

The bottom of my range of motion because of the shape and strength of my back body, is literally only about 4-5 inches lower than the stacked-90 degree starting position. However, my pulling with my lower abs it still burns like crazy.

Because of this smaller movement I am more able to protect my lower back. If you have move curvaceous spine as I do you may even want to place a sponge under the lower back to make the floor connection more present.

Learning that I didn’t have to go through the full range to get a good workout was a huge moment for me. If some movements are more difficult than seem reasonable, that’s probably because they need modification for your particular body type or conditioning level.

“This is NOT a modifier to the double leg lift, merely a safer way for my body to practice the exercise.”

I’m not fond of the word ‘modified’ or adding ‘modifiers’ to workouts because to me this implies that modified versions of an exercise are for those with less strength. I find this somewhat dangerous because many, like myself, will assume that because we are in great physical condition that modifier is not necessary even if the movement is painful. It is not explained in a fast paced class that the modifier is sometimes for those whose bodies work slightly differently than others.

Of course, sometimes the modifier is for those who have less physical strength. However I still believe that this should be explained in a less shameful way. This way, those who do not have the necessary strength do not attempt to do the unmodified movement.

You would not expect olympic lifters in a different weight class to dead lift the same amount, right? However, for both people working with the same amount of energy, they are getting a comparable workout for their individual strengths/bodies.

And so concludes my thoughts on the double leg lower and lift!

 

<3 Cammy

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2 thoughts on “Finding My Range of Motion

  1. So true. You always see people holding hollow bodies and doing straight leg lifts with huge arches in their backs. Sometimes it’s so bad I can get my entire arm under their body! Maintaining posterior pelvic tilt is so important for effective core work. Great post.

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