How I beat Back Pain with Pilates: Week 3

Wednesday – I was coming out of a crazy weekend slacklining; pushing my body for what it’s got! The class session was great – the homework exercises (managed 4 out of 6 days) have complimented my strength and stability increases.

Here’s two narrated videos from my class, showing the ‘100’ and ‘Short Spine Massage’ on the Reformer.

My 100 is looking much better. The secret to making it hardcore is stretching your legs away from you whilst drawing your abs deeper in, and also locking into your lats. Again with the double-leg-lower-lift, making it harder: stretch your legs away from you, and engaging your glutes super-hard just before you raise your legs again. This glute-contraction is important because it takes the strain out and away from your lower back.

Did the short-spine massage again today and I felt fine in the flexion position. Gradually the fear is being removed.

Latissimus Dorsi muscles – The major muscle group of the upper back and yet I still seem to struggle with how to actually engage them! The only way I have figured how to do it so far, is to imagine I am slightly pulling my hands apart. Then they engage. My awareness of activating them is still young and needs to be developed, as they play such a massive role in stabilising your torso.

The Lats take up a large portion of your back!

Just check Bruce Lee’s Lat-activation in this short clip. Amazing! Can you do this?

Another part of the class that I found hard was pulling the ribcage ‘down, and in’. This uses all the little muscles attached to the rib cage and so I find it much harder to put my awareness into them. Gradually Amy is introducing the anatomical requirements in to the classes and as you can see, it’s not always easy!

Did ‘pull-ups’ today, again, on the chair; the handstand-press like movement. Much better than last time. The step up exercises I also did again; right side is much stronger than my left. When I have my left leg up on the chair, my body wants to turn out as I stand up! It’s mad to be told that, even when I don’t notice it happening! That’s the ‘swinging-out’ motion of my hips coming to haunt me again. It creeps into everything!

I’m quite keen on learning how to handstand properly and have been for quite some time. So I had a little practice at the end of class, and guess what? My hips even swing out when I am upside down! How mad is that!? Need to unlock my elbows slightly; that forces my lats to become engaged. I will practice that more at home and try to film it.

In case you want to learn how to handstand, too, this tutorial is pretty good if you already have a basic awareness of your body.

Homework progress

Thursday – burnt out on the last exercise, double-leg lower lift! Managed two, then I just had to stop and rest for a second. The reason? I think it’s because I was really stretching my legs away from me whilst lowering and raising them. So much harder!

Check out Week 4 to see my progress and watch my class video showing me suffer on the infamous Pull Straps!

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