Good Afternoon, Pilates aficionados!
A few posts back I began the conversation about my journey to discovering my range of motion. Just to recap slightly, it took me 7 years to discover how my body wanted to move and to start paying attention to what my body was telling me.
I was inspired to right this post by a video I watched on PilatesAnytime (yet again). Tracey Mallett’s Barre class had me sweating more than I thought was possible in 30 minutes. And she zeroed in on tiny movements at the top of the range of motion, my fav!.
In my previous post I focused on the ‘double leg lift,’ a lower ab workout performed from a supine (flat on yo’ back) position. I have always struggled with protecting my lower back and hip flexors while doing this popular pilates series; it never dawned on me that perhaps what works for one person does not necessarily work for me (I realize now how silly this may sound)!
When I began my teacher trainings in the Balanced Body school of Pilates, one of the first things we learned about was how to protect your clients from injury. It is obvious of course why this is so important when learning to become a teacher; it is a teacher’s worst nightmare to have a student injured in class. However, it was also a huge moment for me because I learned how to protect my own body from injury. A win win!!
I will not recap all that I said before, but essentially what I learned was that making a movement smaller not only took away all of the pain and discomfort I was feeling but actually made the movement harder.
By focusing only on the very top of your range of motion, the discomfort from performing the full range is alleviated. When this discomfort is gone there is nothing left to focus on but SQUEEZING the activated muscle groups.
Focusing on the very top of the range of motion also discourages any cardiovascular work the movement may create when performing a huge movement to tempo. Cardio is amazing but there are specific exercises for this. If you feel cardio from a strength based workout there is risk for injury because the range of motion may be too big! A strength movement performed too fast does not allow the practitioner time to focus on supporting the back, squeezing the abs, or supporting the neck, shoulders, etc…
What exactly do I mean by range of motion? It is the distance that your arms/legs/torso/what-have-you move throughout an exercise where you really feel the muscles activate. The burning feeling that us pilatesters love so much. The deep muscle connection. Think of any time your instructor has had you perform an exercise and then ‘pulse, pulse, pulse’ at the top! This is the burn I am talking about, where the range of motion is tiny but all focus is on the activated muscle groups and you can really zero in on squeezing like your life depends on it.
Whoo, I’m getting sweaty just thinking about it!
“Tracey Mallett Pilates Teacher.” Pilates Anytime. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Aug. 2017.