After years of working at a desk and experiencing pain in my back after working out, I decided that it was time to dial things way back and go back to the basics of Pilates. I was feeling like my muscles were not evenly balanced and I was experiencing pain in my upper neck and back AGAIN. My right side was dominant and in an effort to get things balanced again, I took a break from working out. I had to allow my muscles to relax and then gradually build them back up. No Pain No Gain is the biggest lie I’ve ever heard and at this point in my life pain free mobility is gold.
What is Neutral Pelvis?
From the book Simply Pilates By Jennifer Polman, The pelvis is the junction between the torso and the legs to which various muscles attach for movement and stabilizing purposes. When the pelvis tilts forward or backward the curve of the lower back will change. Current spinal health research indicates that the natural curves of the spine should be maintained during exercise in order to strengthen the muscles essential to postural support. The correct positioning of the pelvis is crucial to maintaining this natural spinal shape. Neutral Pelvis is achieved when the pelvic bones tilt neither way, but simply rest where hip and back muscles can remain fairly relaxed. The easiest way of finding this position is to recognize that your public bone and hip bones ( silica crests) all form a parallel level with the floor when lying on your back. (These bones should be aligned in the same plant when the body is in any position.) Neutral pelvis is the ideal position in which to strengthen the dee abdominals.
Strong abdominals are more important to you than achieving a “six-pack.” Good quality movement while preventing spinal injury begins by working the muscles from the inside out. This means refining the action of the abdominal muscles so that you can work the deeper layers responsible for maintaining “core stability. To target this area you need to focus on the drawing in and up of the lower abdomen-between the public bone and navel. Imagine zipping up the abdominals starting from the pubic bone, as if you’re zipping up tight jeans! Use pelvic floor muscles and flatten and tighten the abdominals toward the floor, without actually disturbing your Neutral Pelvis. Try not to tense up the gluteal muscles (buttocks). Imagine that your whole navel and waist area is shrinking as though held in a corset. During a pilates session an instructor would typically describe this action as “scooping, drawing in or pressing the navel to the spine” in order to ensure the deeper layers of abdominals are strengthened.
Valerie back again
If you still don’t get it next time you take a pilates class, ask the instructor if she can explain it to you. Also you have to maintain the neutral spine when you do all of the exercises and that means you probably have to slow down a lot and get back to the real basics because your muscles can get weak with the quickness if you’re not paying attention.
Also if you watch TV, lie on the floor and watch it on a yoga mat. Use pillows to support your neck and roll around like a kid. Next time your tired lay on the floor and remember your practicing neutral spine so you are exercising. XOXO Don’t feel guilty for lying down. You deserve a rest beautiful. Great thing to think about on your day off from the gym or if you’re just starting out this is MANDATORY BABY!!
This is a real simple breathing exercise to get you started. You might want to print this out and read it every time you get into this position. You will need to practice OVER AND OVER. Sorry about that. Also make sure your Dr. gives you the OK to exercise.
Simple Breathing Exercise
- Lie on back, knees bent, heels opposite sitting bones, hands resting on lower abs
- Inhale to prepare, exhale engage pelvic floor and draw in and up of your lower abs…zip them up like a tight pair of jeans. Also pretend you drank a big coffee and glass of water and you need to hold it in. Yikes!!! But relax your glutes (buttocks)
- Inhale into your ribs and feel your ribs going to the sides. Your abs are engaged so no air is going to your belly. It’s going sideways in your ribcage. (Ribcage and shoulders stay on the floor)
- Exhale for 4-5 counts allowing chest and ribs to fall while drawing in lower abs. (Remember keep your mouse house)
- Head, neck and gluteal muscles are relaxed.
- If you experience pain then you probably want to tell your Dr. where you have pain. Pain is the way the body tells you something ain’t cool.
You’ll get strong really fast if you just do this. For now I have to read a book and do what it says to do. Sometimes instructors leave out a key set up cue and it will throw you off and then it’s easy to get injured. I say take your time and do the moves very deliberately. Also don’t be afraid to allow your muscles to relax and recover and then rebuild them up the right way. I do recommend the book above but that’s up to you.
That’s all for today sweetie pies. I know it’s not easy to do this stuff but if you don’t do it for yourself, who will? PS: TAKE A BREAK FROM YOUR PHONE. Your neck says thank you. XOXO I know because I had to as well.