Modifications to help you succeed: The Back & Knees

The back in anything supine like the abdominal series

While lying on your back for Pilates exercises, you want to maintain a neutral spine, meaning that the back of your head, your mid thoracic and the back of your sacrum are all on the floor. Spaces created by the anatomically natural curve of your spine remain at your neck and low back.

If your transversus abdominis is not yet strong enough to support you in neutral while lifting your legs and/or your head (i.e. if your low back is straining or arching, there are a couple of options to help yourself out.

By placing a rolled hand towel or lumbar support under the natural, neutral curve of your spine, you will be able to press against it, providing more support until you are able to hold it on your own. Make sure the support is not thicker than it needs to be. Your pelvis should be flat on the floor, making your hip bones (ASIS) and your pubic bone parallel to the ground.

It is always a good idea to do only as much of an exercise as you can holding a neutral spine, then come out of it when you are about to lose form. Take a breath and go right back into it. Each time you will be able to hold it longer and longer.

Knees in all fours or kneeling

For basic pressure point pain from the floor or reformer, simply fold your mat, or place a pad or towel under your knees.

Some people feel a tugging around their kneecaps, particularly when hinging back at the knee in high kneeling (straight line from head to knee) or sitting back in a low kneeling position (sitting on your heels). If you experience this, try bringing your feet closer together until you find a comfortable position. The issue is a tightness in the tissues (fascia, tendon, and/or ligament) and this position provides a little slack along the knee.

If your feet are all the way together and you still feel a tugging, then try moving your knees wider than hip distance. If this doesn’t work, you probably should not be in kneeling for the time being. Other Pilates exercises can strengthen and balance the tissues surrounding your knees until you are able to perform this safely.

I felt a tugging on the outsides of my knees when I started high kneeling in Pilates, and it only took a few months of practicing a couple of times a week before I was able to be in the position with zero discomfort.

Be healthy and strong, be you.

~ Amber

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