Mermaid is one of those go-to exercises we tuck into an hour-long class to transition from one section of work to another and to give students a refresh and a reset. And it feels SO good!
But it is so much more than a transitional stretch. Lateral flexion is only addressed in a handful of Pilates exercises, mermaid is one of them. But, it can also be a struggle to get right and to maximize the benefits. Done correctly, Mermaid has few parallels in lateral flexion category.
Maximum lateral flexion is achieved when the client can maintain length and height through the lumbar spine and isolate flexion to the thoracic vertebra. The hard part of that equation is maintaining the height through the lumbar. The easy way to perform Mermaid is to hinge and lean at the waist to achieve that lateral movement. A cue to isolate the movement to the thoracic is essential to maximize the benefits on offer with Mermaid.
Try this: imagine your body is a teapot, chock-full of hot, steeped tea. As you tip to the side, you must imagine the spout of the pot (your grounded hand) must clear the edge of the tea cup in order to pour the tea without spilling.
Creating an image of height that must be achieved (the edge of the cup) as the client moves laterally, sets the client up for success and maximum benefits from Mermaid.
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