X Marks the Spot. And the oblique slings are the treasure. Swimming is such an amazing exercise to hone in on cross-body movement and the oblique slings. To illustrate these benefits to your client and to create awareness of the muscles working together, refer to the letter X.
Imagine an X drawn on the posterior side of the body with each line stretching from the tips of the fingers to the tips of the toes of the opposite foot. As each line takes a turn lifting during the movement, imagine stretching that line to make the biggest X possible. Remind your client that the aim of the exercise is not to shorten the lines while lifting the limbs, but to lengthen them.
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For some clients, being in the prone position means rest time for the abdominals. This couldn’t be further from the reality. Engaging the core during prone exercises helps keep the spine in optimal neutral alignment and it helps the body more efficiently use the muscles that the exercise is meant to work. Perhaps most importantly, though, it prevents us from “falling” into our lower backs.
Relying on the low back muscles during prone exercises is a common mistake even from really strong clients. It can cause unnecessary tightness, strain and even injury in the low back.
While clients’ natural inclination is to “let it all go” through the tummy during this type of exercise, they are also keenly aware of the difference they feel from an efficiency and a comfort standpoint when they do engage their abdominals. As soon as they tighten across the core and lift the abdominals away from the mat, they can feel a change to their spine position, which in turn changes the entire output of the exercise!
To initiate this engagement and to remind them throughout the repetitions, try having them imagine a blueberry (or other soft, messy item) under their belly button. Challenge them not to squish it!!
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