Whether you’re a complete newbie or have been coming for years, there are bound to be a few tweaks that could be made to your pilates technique to get you moving like Joseph Pilates intended in your Reformer class!
One of our most senior instructors Laura has been teaching for years and has been there and seen it all! This month we ask her the top 5 common mistakes people make in reformer classes and how to correct them.
1. Overusing Upper Traps
Clients tend to grip in upper traps, especially during arm exercises. These muscles are often overactive in day to day life anyway causing neck tension. It’s important to learn how to balance them out by engaging and working more lower traps which are the muscles just between the lower part of the shoulder blades.
TO CORRECT THIS: Feel length through the crown of the head, keep distance between the ears and shoulders. Shoulder blades to feel flat against the ribcage.
2. Tail Lifting in Feet in Straps
Having your feet in the straps can be pretty daunting! The direction of pull is making your bottom roll back off the carriage, so we have to make sure that we keep our hips down when working the legs. You’re aiming for a stable pelvis while you move your legs in the straps, working in either a neutral or imprinted pelvis.
TO CORRECT THIS: Think about balancing a bowl of soup on your pelvis, keeping the soup in the bowl while you move your legs. Hinge from the hips, using the front of the hips when the legs come towards you and the back of the hips when your legs press away. Keep length down both sides of the waist.
3. Not Standing with a Neutral Spine
You want to keep the small natural arch of your back, especially in the lower back or “lumbar” region. This can be harder to find in a standing position as you don’t have the same feedback from the reformer as you do when lying or sitting down. “I see a lot of pelvis tucking and spine flexing when doing the scooter exercise” Laura says. Clients need to stand up straight, find a neutral spine, then hinge forward from the hips.
TO CORRECT THIS: Find length through the spine and down the side of the waist. Pelvis is to be aligned east and west and there is a slight wrap of the abdominals.
4. Table Top Legs Not at 90 Degrees
“Table Top” is a position with the legs which we use a lot in class. Even when the focus of the exercise may be on the abs or arms, you still want an awareness of the legs in space. Keep reminding yourself that you’re aiming for 90 degrees of flexion of the hips and knees whilst working with either a neutral or imprinted pelvis.
TO CORRECT THIS: Think thigh bones heavy into the pelvis, equal weight across the back of the pelvis, abdominals wrapping, shins parallel to the floor to look like a table from the side.
5. Poor Alignment in Mermaid
“Everyone loves lateral flexion or side bending but I see a lot go wrong in mermaid. Everything needs to be aligned first. So one of the things I see the most is being shy to use the platform extender to help with the alignment of our hips” explains Laura. Use the platform extender under one sit-bone to help lift the hip, so both hip bones are alighted. This will help the rest of the spine stack accordingly.
TO CORRECT THIS: Keep the pelvis neutral and vertical as you take the spine up and over to the footbar, still keeping length down both sides of the waist. Keep both sit bones heavy throughout the exercise and avoid dumping into one side. Bring the ears back in line with the arms and shoulders and try not to round forward whilst sidebending. “A great cue is to imagine the body sandwiched between two planes of window glass and all you can do is sidebend over” Laura describes.
If you still have a few questions or would like us to assess your form, book in a casual private session. Privates are available for all of our session types and will ensure you’re getting the most out of every class! Phone 6161 7591 or email firstname.lastname@example.org