Rollup, Rolldown, Rollover. How do we help clients flow these exercises? What will help them see these as smooth, continuous movements? Do you see them this way?
Let’s take a step back. When performing these exercises, we can invoke images of diving up and over a beach ball, pumpkin, Pilates circle, [insert your favorite round object as space-holder here]. These cues get us the proper form on the end of the exercise where our spines are in the most flexion. But, what about the rest of the movement? Should it be staccato and choppy? Does it have a clear starting and end point? Well, maybe, but I’d argue that you can get more out of the exercise by making it a smooth, flowing, continuous movement.
So, how do we create this smooth, continuous flow and help clients see the segmental spine movement in these exercises as fluid? I like the image of a pulley system. The most recognizable example of this is a bike chain. Have the client imagine that his or her entire body is the chain and it is continuously moving around the cogs of the bike (for those into cycling, you will most definitely take offense to me saying cog here – chain ring and cassette are the proper terms). Each of the vertebrae is a link in the chain and the cogs take the place of the beach ball in our earlier discussions, maintaining space in the vertebrae as the client reaches the point of where the spine is in the most flexion, and then moves away as the direction of motion is reversed (backpedaling on the bike, in case anyone needs further imagery). The chain is always in motion, either forwards or back, throughout the entire exercise, bringing rhythm and flow to these full body exercises. You could even try flowing two of these exercises together: Rollover to Rollup and back again.
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