- Pelvic Floor Contraction - sitz bones, tailbone, and pubic bones should pull together, like closing a drawstring. This action provides an anchor to help stabilize the spine.
- Abdominals and back muscles contract to help maintain a functional & neutral spine and pelvis. This will allow the legs to move independently from the torso.
- If the spine moves into a posterior tilt/scoop as the knee moves toward the chest for hip flexion, the movement is initiating from the lower back instead of the hips.
- If the hip flexors grip to pull the knee to the chest when flexing the thigh, it will restrict the down and back movement of the ball in the socket and the pelvis will tuck
- The spine should stay still. Both flexion & extension of the hip should initiate from the ball changing places in the socket. The hamstrings should be active as the knee bends to control the movement.
Exercises To Practice Hip FlexionFootwork on the Reforme
- A parallel leg position will facilitate better mechanics to practice the ball & socket movement for hip flexion.
- Push from the ball of the feet through the backs of the thighs as the legs straighten.
- Think about pulling the sitz bones to the heels as the carriage returns, actively controlling the motion.
What to watch for: Look for the pelvis to remain in a still position. Can you see the ball in the socket drop posterior/inferior as the hip flexes, and anterior/superior as the leg extends. Pushing and pulling should not come from straightening and bending the knees, but instead by moving the thigh bones away and towards the center.Footwork on the Chair
- On the High Chair, the back is still supported and the hips can flex into a deeper range of motion.
- On the Wunda Chair, the back is unsupported. Maintaining a strong & stable pelvis and torso will make this exercise more challenging.
What to watch for Maintain the normal curves of the spine. Only push the pedal down as far as you can without moving the pelvis. Be sure the initiation to move the pedal is from the back of the thigh instead of the knees or feet. No gripping in the front of the hip as the pedal comes up.Footwork with A Ball
- This is a great way to practice if you don't have a Reformer, or have foot issues where the pressure on the Reformer or Chair may be too much.
- Footwork here is a little more challenging for spine and pelvis stability. The ball is less stable and may bob & weave while moving the legs if there are any muscle imbalances.
- Similar to Footwork on the Reformer, lay on the back, place the heels on the ball with the knees bent at 90 degrees or greater. Gently flex the hamstrings to press the heels into the ball. Maintain a feeling of pressing down with the back of the thighs as you roll the ball away and back in.
What to watch for Spine and pelvis remain still - Engaged pelvic floor. Legs work evenly and the ball rolls straight out and back in. Active glutes to push the legs away, and psoas & hamstrings to draw the legs back in. Avoid bringing the legs in by tensing the front of the thighs to bring the knees to the chest. Trapeze Table Leg Springs (with a Small Barrel)
- Using a small Barrel for Leg Springs on the Cadillac is an excellent way to assist the legs with hip flexion, and while placing the spine and pelvis in a more supported lumbar arch.
What to watch for Normal curves of the spine. Lumbar support on the barrel. No wobbles with the pelvis. The tailbone stays still, arching over the barrel as the legs move towards the chest. Avoid locked knees. No gripping with the quadriceps or hip flexors as the thighs lift. Look for space and a softness at the fold in the front of the hip as the ball drops back and down in the socket while the legs lift with the assistance of the spring.A traditional Pilates workout provides opportunities to practice hip flexion and extension exercise in a variety of positions. Some, like footwork on the reformer - help stabilize the back and pelvis so we can become more conscious of good hip articulation. Side leg kick front and back in matwork provides more of a challenge. The spine should still be in a stabilized position but there's no floor behind our back for reference to hold the body still while the leg articulates from the hip. The goal..everything practiced lying down should transfer to seated and standing exercises. May you learn to hold things together while your legs swing freely in Pilates & life!
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