Personalizing Pilates' Q&A Blog – by Sherry

August 18, 2009

No Pelvic Tilts,please!! How to have a strong lower back!

For many years, starting in the early 80’s  I taught aerobics.  One of the things that I remember clearly when teaching abdominal work was to do a pelvic tilt and press the lower back down to the mat so that it flattened.   We always said that you should do this to protect your lower back.     Even Joseph Pilates wrote that the lower back should be flattened when doing exercises. His reasoning was that when we were a fetus, our spines were rounded like a C and this was the proper curve for the spine – this was the prevailing wisdom in the 1930’s.

Sadly, we were not only misleading people but we probably hurt more than a few people as well with this cue.   

Over the years, we have learned that the lower back should have a natural inward curve to it.    It should not be flat.   When you are lying on your back, there should be two places in your spine that do NOT touch the mat – the back of your neck and your lower back.   The inward curve in the lower back is critically important for a strong and healthy spine.   Think of it like the foundation of a tall building – when it is strong, the rest of the building is strong and solid.    Doing abdominal work with the lower back flattened overstretches the small muscles that support this area of the spine and it creates weakness.   Worse, it can lead to herniated discs, sciatica, lower back pain and other spinal problems.

When doing Pilates, it’s really important to have what we call a “neutral pelvis”.   This position of pelvis is defined by 3 bones – the two hip bones and the pubic bone (see below).

two hipbones and pubic bone

 

When you are lying on your back, these three bones will form a level plane when you have a neutral pelvis.   In this position, there will be an inward curve in your lower back and it will NOT touch the mat.   It’s hard to see in the photos below, but there is enough space that I can slip my hand underneath my lower back.   It’s not flattened.     In the second photo, you can see that the three bones are level and you could balance a cup of tea on my hands and it would not spill.   (In a pelvic tilt, the tea would be slopping into my navel!)

neutral pelvis

 

neutral pelvis with hands

If you have any sort of spinal condition (such as sciatica, a herniated disc, osteoporosis) it is absolutely critical that you work in a neutral pelvis position.   Flattening your lower back will cause you pain and can make your condition worse.   My neighbour had one herniated disc at L3/L4 and managed to herniate a second one by doing ab work with a flat back.

All of my downloadable workouts include an Ab Tutorial that teaches you how to find and hold a neutral pelvis.  All abdominal work is done with this position so that you are strengthening the foundation of your spine in it’s optimal position.     Check out the workouts that I have available (my website is on the right side of this page!)   

If you are not sure which one is best for you, email me and I’ll help you!

Take care,

Sherry

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July 12, 2009

Hi World!

Filed under: Uncategorized — personalizing pilates @ 6:22 pm
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Hi everyone!

I have just set up my new blog!    I’d like to introduce myself and let you know that I am here to help you with any questions that you may have about Pilates.

First, let me tell you a bit about me.   I am a PMA Certified Pilates Teacher.   What that means is that I have passed a National Certification Exam that was set by the Pilates Method Alliance (PMA).   Pilates teachers can do their training at many different facilities and the curriculum and quality of teaching can vary so the PMA has set the standard for Pilates teachers.   There are less than thirty PMA Certified Pilates Teachers in Canada and I am proud to be one of them!     I did my Pilates training through the PhysicalMind Institute which is based in New York.   I am certified to teach mat Pilates as well as Pilates using the reformer, cadillac and wunda chair.   I’m also certified to teach Standing Pilates.  

I have taught fitness (as an ACE certified aerobics teacher  and personal trainer) for over twenty five years and Pilates for more than ten years.   I have a private studio where I work with clients with various needs including general fitness to herniated discs, sciatica, amputations, osteoporosis and motor vehicle accidents.    My studio is in a chiropractor’s office and over the years  I have picked up some really great exercises and tips to help my clients and I will be passing these along to you over time! 

I will be blogging about exercises and ways that Pilates can help various spinal conditions.   However, I am much more interested in helping you with your specific questions and needs.   So please send me your questions!   I’m happy to help you.

Sherry

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