March MATness Day 15: Neck Pull

Photo by Alex Read on Unsplash

Today we’re channeling the alphabet.  Specifically, the letter P.

A lot of Neck Pull can be likened to the Rollup, in fact, you can use the arm positioning of Neck Pull to progress the Rollup for advanced clients (hands cradling the head instead of straight overhead, increases the difficulty significantly).  What really differentiates the Neck Pull  for me is the goal of incredible spinal flexion at the top of the movement.

The final shape of Neck Pull is something like the letter “P” lying on its side.  – head kissing the knees, if possible.  This is clearly a stretch (pun intended) for hamstring length, but more importantly,  creating a smoothly rounded spine from tail to crown of head  is an immense challenge for even the most flexible of spines.  Often clients feel that this is a completely unattainable exercise –  giving them the visual of what the goal looks like (the letter “P”) helps to ground their efforts in something solid and relatable.

Be sure to follow us on Instagram (@worldisyourstudio) to find yours truly taking on the March MATness challenge day by day.  And sign upfor our Cuesletter to get these cues sent directly to your inbox and be the first to hear about them!

Copyright © 2018, Cueing Theory, All rights reserved.

Cutting Out Momentum in Challenging Supine Exercises

When it comes to Pilates and results, momentum is not usually our friend.  Momentum allows us to more easily complete some movements without having to utilize our bodies in the proper way – in other words, to cheat.  With momentum, we can fight against gravity with more than just our muscular recruitment and skeletal positioning.

But cueing to discourage using momentum is difficult and can sometimes be disheartening to a client who feels that it’s the only way they can accomplish the movement.  So, use this cue with a grain of salt.  If your client is ready to execute more challenging, gravity defying supine exercises, specifically, Roll Up, Neck Pull, and Teaser, then go ahead and challenge them with this cue.  If your client is just starting to get to these exercises without modification, try adding this cue to applicable modifications or regressions (Assisted Rollup, Teaser with bent knees, etc) prior to asking them to do the full exercises in slow motion.

The cue is simple: sticky tape.  Imagine that your spine is lying on a track of very sticky tape on the floor.  You must peel your spine off the sticky tape, vertebrae by vertebrae.  Imagine struggling against the sticky tape to free each knob of the spine.  This cue works a little bit like my previous post about moving through honey: it creates an imaginary hindrance to the client’s movement.

See if that cue doesn’t cut out momentum, slow things down, enhance segmental spine movement – all the while creating a crazy burn in the process!

Copyright © 2017, Cueing Theory, All rights reserved.

Pilates Reference Cues – Using Hundreds to Cue the Pilates Repertoire

Earlier this week, we talked about how Pilates exercises themselves are sometimes the best cues for more difficult or complicated movements in the repertoire.  Bridging came to mind first, but there’s another that is imbedded in SO many exercises.  The Hundred.

Source: giphy.com

The Hundred teaches us a ton about how to organize our whole bodies, including the breath.  Many clients think about this as an intense, nearly impossible ab workout, but what’s really going on is a lot more central to Pilates and the overarching benefits we preach about.

The Hundred is all about organization of the body and recruiting the total body, including the breath to perform an incredibly difficult task.  The Hundred cannot be performed without the body engaging toward the midline from the toes all the way to the neck.  Try it.  Attempt Hundreds without hugging the legs together, without lifting through the pelvic floor and lower abdominals and without using the oblique slings to pull it all together.  Now try it without organizing your head neck and shoulders.  Now try breathing into your abdomen instead of into the sides of your ribcage.  It’s near impossible.  Your legs won’t lift, your lower back arches, your head seems to weigh 100 pounds and it all falls apart even further when you try to inhale.

Mastering body organization and breath is imperative for the success of Hundreds, but it is also necessary in order to gain the most from other exercises as well.  Referring back to the body organization and muscle recruitment that made clients successful with Hundreds, can help them understand the proper organization and alignment that many other exercises require.

These exercises run the gamut from the obvious – other supine abdominal exercises (Chest Lift, Assisted Roll Up and Roll Up, Single Leg Stretch, Single Straight Leg Stretch, Double Straight Leg Stretch, Criss Cross, Neck Pull) to full body (Teaser and Leg Pull; you can even make an argument for Leg Pull Front, Push Up, Plank) and inversion (Jack Knife, Controlled Balance, etc.) exercises.

It all comes back to Hundreds.

Copyright © 2017, Cueing Theory, All rights reserved.