The Rollover. Today’s cue is “u-turn.” This has two applications for Rollover. Firstly, and most obviously, when we are at the top of the inversion, our bodies should resemble the letter “U” laying on it’s side. Legs parallel to both the floor and our thoracic and cervical spine that is largely flat on the mat with our abdominals scooping deeply to create and maintain the curve at the base of the “U.”
But the secondary meaning can be helpful for clients who are hesitant to come out of the inversion. Guide clients as they retrace their steps on the way back down – ask them to actually do a “u-turn” at the top of the inversion and make it a fluid, flowing movement.
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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.
One of the most pertinent reference points for Pilates students is Pilates itself. So many of the exercises build on each other and it is a great tool to be able to refer back to some of the movements achieved in an exercise the client knows well, in order to set the stage for a new or more challenging sequence.
Let’s start the discussion today with a gimme. Bridging. It’s one of the first exercises we learn and a staple in class planning. I’ve mentioned the escalator cue for bridging in an earlier article, so let’s build on that. As a client becomes more familiar with the segmental spine movement inherent to bridging, it is an easy one to refer back to when we introduce a new exercise or help the client improve upon an exercise that they find more challenging.
Any time we want the client to move bone by bone through the spine, we can always refer back to bridging. The examples are diverse and plentiful. To start with, this referral cue translates for Roll Down and Roll Up. It’s great for seated exercises such as Spine Stretch, Saw. It’s great for exercises that require movement from seated to lying down: Assisted Roll Up, Teaser. It’s even key to getting the most out of the descent of inversion exercises: Roll Over, Corkscrew, Jack Knife.
I could probably go on and list most exercises in the whole of the Pilates repertoire, but you get the point. Use the Bridge.