Class #3348

Day 4: Low Spine

30 min - Class


Welcome to Day 4! Today Sarah focuses on working the low spine in different ranges of motion so you can see how it relates to the pelvis. She encourages you to continue breathing and moving so you can create more mobility in your spine. She includes creative variations to exercises like Semi Circle, Stomach Massage, and so much more!
What You'll Need: Reformer

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Welcome back to [inaudible] play. Day four is all about the low spine, the low spine, and various different ranges of motion and how it relates to the pelvis. I've got my reformer set with one blue spring and I also intend to use the box a little bit later in the workout. Let's go. So here's stand with your feet underneath your hips and ground your body down through your feet, but also lift up in how big breath arms rise. As you exhale, peel forward one vertebrae at a time. Take your hands to the edge of the reformer. And here as a warm up, we reached forward. Chest is open, flat back, tip the tailbone back and up a little bit. And then round yourself in.

Allow your feet to react a little bit in hell or reach forward. Tipping the tail bone back and up and exhale to around in. So I'm certainly shaping this movement and I'm thinking about my low back here, but I'm really also just trying to wake up my body a little bit this time round all the way into the stopper. Roll Up. Feel your low back. Stand. Nice and tall. Let's do that one more time. Inhale big arms. Exhale, arms come down and then right roll forward. Nice, easy movement. Yeah, reach around to the reformer and go forward into a um, straight back here and round.

So focusing in on what's happening in your low back. Certainly my legs and my upper back are reacting to this, but I'm really thinking about the stretch here in my low spine, creating more mobility in my low back today and one last time like that. And then exhale to round and roll. Oh the way up, but not quite. Hold onto reformer. Take a couple steps back and make your way down into a squat.

So option one could stay right here and explore. If you're comfortable seating, get all the way into that deep squat. Let your head relax. Find a position holding onto the bar, the reformer, whatever it may be that allows you to be restful here. Perhaps you're comfortable and you don't need to hold on at all. Shift just a little bit from side to side for me, this is a really beautiful stretch in my low back. Many of you are so opening your low backs that you may not feel the stretch.

But for me this is a big stretch in my low back and it requires me to release through my feet as well. So wonderful and using. This is the warmup today, just mobility range of motion. Before we push gently look forward, use your hands if you need to on the bar to help stand yourself back up. And then let's go right into our footwork here. So I've got, I'm going to change to three red springs and to blue. So I've got three and a half springs on on this reformer. Okay. Lie yourself down, settle your feet in, perhaps take your legs side to side just a couple of times to loosen up.

Feel at ease here. Always feels nice to me. Chest is open, heels are on the bar and out we go. Let's get a little zesty here. Exhale and inhale in. So we know the footwork. At this point I'm going to stick with some pretty clean positions. Pelvis is still energy.

NRG to try to create a little bit of heat in the body. So we can push our range of motion is my idea. Good. One more time here. Hold the carriage at the stopper with this foot position and do a pelvic curl so you use your abs. Feel when your legs kick in and just lift a little bit up so I'm not going through a few full pelvic curl, just a little mini one and then lower down.

Do that again. Feel the abdominals engaged to flex the spine and then it's the legs that help prop you up just a bit. But focus on getting flection here of the spine, that stretched feeling and lower all the way down. And just one more time like that and lower all the way down. Go ahead and slip up, put your toes where your heels are, settle in there and then out we go again, creating a little heat, starting at a pace that really suits you so maybe it's a little slower, maybe it's a little faster, it really doesn't matter to me. Just make sure you feel your body in a way that makes sense. So here, lengthen through the crown of the head. Feel the soft neutral pelvis chest is open.

Feel the ease of movement. Just one more time here. And then keep the feet just like this and see if you can find your way through that same pelvic curl. So feel that rounding of the back floating off, lots of hamstrings there and then roll back down all the way to an anterior position. So open through your low back or open the space underneath your low back. Use The abs to flatten and use the hamstrings to help you lift a little more and then lower down through that rounded spine and all the way to a little bit of hyperextension and arch in your back. One more time and all the way down. Brilliant. Settle on neutral small v position at we go.

So really squeeze those heels together and try to feel those inner thighs. Remember to breathe. My friend's breath is so important. Creating heat with the breath and of course with the spring on the reformer pushing out and in with the legs. It's creating heat too. Let's do two more. Nice. Hold the carriage in. Hold the foot position. Same Pelvic Curl.

Adding a little more height here. Do you want to go all the way up and do you want to go all the way down to an arched back? So go beyond where you normally would going all the way through that low back and up. Feel the glutes and rolling all the way down. So again, just make sure you're using a breath, really truly suits you. And again, exhale all the way up and all the way down. Open v from the heels, flexed ankles, power through the feet. Out we go. Okay.

I often say we're breathing and moving and that's what I want to say at this moment. Just remember you're breathing and moving when you breathe matters a lot less. Just make sure you are in fact breathing. Feel the inner thighs. Feel the hips. Ah, feel the strength in your legs. One more time here and then hold the feet as they are.

Go through that pelvic curl. See where you want to land. For me, I just can't lift as high here. I have to stay just a little bit smaller. Many of you, I can adjust my feet and lift a little bit higher, which is what I chose to do. Many of you will find that it's no problem to get up nice and high. But for me, my hips are a little tighter. So it's an exploration here, moving my back and just kinda feeling my hips in a different way, which is nice. Beautiful. And then let's skip the tow position today.

Come right in with the feet together for a moment and then separate press out. Both feet are down and both feet are up. So we're doing calf raises, calf raises rather not rages. So we've got nice length through the spine, softness through your jaw, continuous movement with your feet, maximizing both the up and the down and stabilizing through the core. Prances are happening now pressing up and pressing down. So I say pressing up and pressing down because I really want both feet to be working throughout the entire movement.

So check in with that and see if you can maximize that forced arch position a little bit. The force starches, the bent knee, the bent knee foot. That is, and just do one more there and then sit with a stretch. So I always like to move my foot. I invite you to find a place where the stretch suits you explore. I have to say I, anytime I get on the reformer, I always have to find this wonderful foot stretch.

It feels just necessary for the rest of my day. It goes all the way up through my calf, into my glute when I hit the right spot. Change legs. If you haven't already, feel [inaudible] and breathing out. One more breath and then gently with both feet on the bar, come in and let's come up to a sitting position. And that's where we're going to work. Our single legs here. Little creative single leg position.

So my feet are underneath and up underneath, but about hip width distance. And what I want you to do is take your arms up and straighten out your back and really lift, be tall here and then hinge forward. It's your hip so you feel the now in your legs, right? So you could lift off at any point. Yeah. And then sit tall. Let's just do that one more time and then come to a standing position and see how upright you can stay. So I'm using my back muscles to stay upright here.

And then how upright can I stay? You asked to my chest is open and have a seat. Okay, so now you can stick with that. You can do double leg squats here, but I'm going to challenge you to try single legs, which is quite a challenge I think. Have a seat here, but don't totally sit right so I'm resting but not sitting completely. Lift up your right heel, put all the weight in the left leg and go ahead and press yourself up. Now, if you want to really challenge yourself, just have the toe literally there for balance, but not holding any weight. If you find that you're up for the single leg challenge but need a little assist, just put a little weight in that foot. You're good to go. Good. Keep those arms energized. Just three, three is enough. Oh, and you love doing things where you can see my challenge, we're going to go down here first and then change sides. Either sides.

So just lift the heel for the first one and check in, decide if you can do it, maybe have just the toe touching or put weight in the foot when you need it so that you can get down and so that you can get up. And it's funny to me sometimes the my right side is harder than my left. Um, when it comes to single leg squats, which is oftentimes a little surprising, but it is something I have noticed. Take your arms down, have a seat. And now we play with the same idea, but with a rounded spine, bring your feet in just a bit more. Okay. Closer to the reformer. Round your back and do that same thing where you're going to lean forward but stay rounded. So I want you to feel it's like a squat, Kinda a deep squat, right? So feel yourself in your feet staying grounded and stand tall. Straighten up. So we're rounding the back first.

I like taking the arms forward in this like rounded shape cause it just feels nice opening my whole back there. Have a seat now lift your right foot up. Put it on top of your other foot in some way, shape or form. Okay. Or keep it down. If you need to rounding through the low back, we're going to stand and straighten high around first set and straight. Now let's open. That's so much nicer and round and sit and oh Ben and all round and sit. Second side. So stack the other foot. If you're able feel the rounded back here.

Low back rounded, setting up for some deep flection exercises coming up. I find that working mobility in other positions makes life a little bit more manageable for those more challenging exercises. Ah, so three is what I'm looking for. Opening eyes open heart here and rounding the back first and bending into it. Go ahead. Okay, so now let, now let's move into some abdominal work.

So one red spring I think is ideal for that. Certainly if you want to work with a little less spring, it's going to be more challenging and I'm going to ask you just to take your bar down so it's kinda out of the way. Certainly if you know your body well enough, you could leave it up. But um, I don't like having things that feel like I might run into them anywhere. Reach up and hold onto the ropes of, of the buckles and find yourself sitting in a position where you're forward enough so that you can roll back and then work on this rollbacks of feel enough space for your whole low back there, right? And then articulate back up and here, sit nice and tall. Extend your back here. Open your heart round through your low back and go back.

And as you come up, the extension really mostly comes from your opera back here. But I want you to feel a little more from your low back with that, without losing your abdominal connection and rounding back here, we're going to stay for a moment with the low back connected lift. First one leg up, lift the other leg up. Now keep that. See how high you can lift with your legs floating, staying grounded. And we go down.

How high can you lift staying around it? And we go down. Adding on here. We find that high position. My spine is flexed, one leg goes out, and we're going to change and change digging deep into the abdominals to feel the flection of the spine. Now if you're on a blue spring, it's a lot harder to be here, which is a good challenge. But I want to use the spring today so I can create a little more range of motion. So that's what I'm working at here. Looking at here, I should say both legs. Come in, tap your toes down, roll all the way up, open your knees to the side and pull the arms just a couple times releasing through the hip flexors. So I've got my arms wide, my elbows are bending, and I'm really just doing this to give your hips a little break. Before I ask you to do more, just one more here, take your arms straight again, bring your knees back together and roll back [inaudible] and then roll back. Uh, and now straighten out your back. I have to move my feet forward a little bit. I'm going to hinge back, keeping my back flat. It's like a teaser position almost, right?

So I want to feel the spot where I feel as though I can lift my feet up if I'm to, there it is. Oh, that's hard. If I'm too close, I won't be able to lift up and keep a flat back. Now we're going to pull both knees in and reach the toes down and pull both knees in. Check in with your upper back, make sure it's still working. We're endeavoring to have a flat or a straight spine here, ironing out the curves. So not a huge hyperextension in the low spine, but a flatter back rather than flection. Hip flexors are working people, they are working. Put your toes down, roll yourself up, put the straps away and let's go into some really beautiful spinal articulation and loosen up through those hips. So the bar needs to go back up to the middle position. One spring one red spring is what I'm currently on.

And set yourself up in a place where you can kind of just hang your legs over the bar and enjoy this for a moment. Feel how by hanging your legs over the bar, you get a little release in your hips. And now for the um, semi-circle, you're going to put your hands on the shoulder rest here and work yourself back until your arms are straight. So I've pushed my carriage all the way out. My arms are straight. But now I'm going to do something a little different here. I want you to let your pelvis hang. Now just kinda check in with with what's down there. Some of you may find that you're touching more metal than you want to.

Certainly you can put the bar up. But this feels really great for me. And I want you to explore your back here. Use your abs to curl your pelvis up, keeping the legs like this to kind of like a bridge position. But this is all coming from me, from my spine. And then articulate down, feel that neutral position and then go beyond where you drop your tailbone. So you're in hyperextension of the spine here.

Now use your abs to curl up. So this is just a really beautiful little experiment I feel in checking out how to move the low back to really move the spring. So you're using the abs to move the low back to move the spring, and that's what we need for the semi-circle. That's where we're headed right now. So go ahead and put your toes up on the bar. Small v position.

Lift those hips up really, really high and feel the power there from the legs. Now bend the knees and come in as far as you can. Now move with your core. We're lowering down through the upper back first. Feel the pelvis pass through what feels like a neutral position and then go beyond. Slide the carriage out a bit, not to straight. Curl yourself up, feel the spine, feel the legs, and then come in lifting higher and we lower down articulating through that low back and then going a little beyond.

Good and glide out and lift up and pull in. And let's just do one more like that with just a little more energy and glide out. Lifting, pulling in. Now we're going to hang the legs back where they came from. Take a release and then slip yourself back onto the reformer. Nothing really pretty there, but we've all been doing that, haven't we?

All right. So here at keep the spring and we're going to go into a nice um, hip flexor stretch. Really Tuck your foot nicely up against the shoulder rest. Put your other foot forward, bend your front knee, lower your back, knee down, and lift your heart here. Yeah, I invite you to explore how your pelvis feels. What does that mean? So your pelvis in relationship to your low back. So see if you can create the sensation of rounding your low back a little, not really gonna happen. And then undo that. So I'm going a little anterior, I don't feel so much stretch. So round a little bit more tucking the pelvis. Feel that and then just kind of undo it a little bit.

Don't work so hard and just one more time. Feel what's going on in your low back and slight release. And let's change sites. Okay, we're going to address the hamstrings in the next exercise. So I'm going to skip that part of this exercise right now. Here we go. Just to find your position. You guys all know this. Bend the front knee, put the back knee down and hang out for a moment.

How does the side feel different? Use your belly muscles. But I think sometimes we're so rigid with our stability that we don't say explore. So here I invite you to explore. So I'm curling my pelvis underneath me. In my mind I'm trying to round my back. I know it doesn't look like that. And then I'm releasing and you can probably see the release more and I'm curling forward feeling a different sensation as a result of it.

And then releasing and curling forward, trying to make that come from my spine actually from my abs and releasing. And just one more time and a little exploration of movement. Henry released that. So sitting position on the side of the reformer again sir, we get a little creative preparing for the tendon, stretch my friends. So I want you to have your hands on the frame of the reformer on the wood part round through your back and stretch in your legs. Okay? So here you can.

You got to find the spot where you can push in and entertain the idea of lifting your bottom up. Nobody has to, but that's where we're headed. Straight in. One leg lifted up, three, two and one other. Leg three, two and one. You ready for it? Yes, you are both legs now. Bottom hold. Flex those feet an arrest. Hold onto one foot and hug that leg into your, take a little stretch. Kiss your knee and then stretch the leg straight.

Feel a nice stretch through the back of the leg. I'm rounding my back here. Nice big knee bend. [inaudible] kiss your knee and then stretch. Pull back on the toes. Okay. And then nice big knee bend and stretch. And one more time.

That just feels good and stretch. Good change sites. So reach around, hold your foot, hug it in mini. Kiss your knee. Be here and stretch. Show the side so much tighter for me. Really pull back on your toes and try to get that Dorsey flexed foot and we bend in and we reach, we bend in reach.

Certainly stick with the position you like more. I want to keep everything moving if at all possible here. And we gently rest that. So out of blue springs, so you're on a red and a blue and here's stomach massage. If you need a pad so you don't slip and slide you certainly you should get one. Find a spot where you know you can put your feet up on the bar without pushing you back too far. So you might need to adjust accordingly. So I can almost sit up straight on my own here. Reach around and press out.

Now stay here for a moment. I want you to feel undulation through the spine. We're rounded. So bend in, press out, not adding the extra footwork on. Perfect cause I want this to be more about what's happening in your spine. Yeah. Okay, one more time. Press out. Sit Tall. Really tip your tailbone back. Keep your arms here and bend Ian and press out and bend in and press out.

Now round when you come in and straight and when you press it out and round when you come in and to pack. And one more time and tip back. Stay straight around and tip. No hands around and tip around and tip and one more time and feel those back muscles. Bend your knees and come on in. All right, you are ready for it. It is time for your tendon stretch, so tendon stretch, one full spring. And certainly if the tendon stretch is not something you even want to try, then go back to that preparation I suggested.

This is become one of my favorite exercises. Press the legs out to straight here. Drop your heels down and really work on this Dorsi flexed position. Flex your spine and just be here. So just like we did on the side of the reformer, can you press into your arms here and can you just float your bottom off the bar? So just practicing, this is enough. If this is where you're at now, can you flex your spine even more and lift yourself all the way up? Oh, there we go, Sarah. And we're going to reach through.

So at your pace that suits you feel that flection of the spine. That's really what it's about. And I find a lot of people in this exercise are lacking either hamstring flexibility or low back flexibility. Whoa, I didn't mean to do that and my friends. That's okay. It's not wrong to go all the way forward and out. As long as I'm still pushing with my abs here.

And then we'll lift all the way up. Hold. Have a gentle seat. So let's lock the carriage down and set up for some side overs. Okay. You can leave your bar up or you can put it down. It really doesn't actually matter. We are going to use the strap today though, but I want you to remember how it felt when you didn't use the strap and really go with that leg feeling. Yeah. That feeling of using your legs. Right. So I've got my strap, my foot is hooked in.

I want to use the strap but use my leg. Yeah, put the hand down on the headrest just like we did before. Use your bottom leg, use your top leg, stabilize it, and then Wallah lift your hands off. It should feel easy right now, but adding that wonderful range of motion will certainly make it challenging. Again, there's one if you want to work harder, take your straight arms overhead and there's two beautiful, one of my all time favorite exercises the side over. Ah, make sure you're breathing and make sure you're using the leg to help you get a little more range. Hold, hold Ho. Let's change sites. Have one client who used to always say to me, I love that I do things because you tell me I can. So that's what the holding is all about. Yeah. So press into the leg, feel the leg, feel the abs, feel your position.

Literally nothing should change when you lift your arms. It should look exactly the same. Going down and then lifting up. Take the arms up by the ears. If that suits you, it makes it more challenging. Good. But try not to let the arms make you sloppy here. Keep them contained.

Breathing. We have one more before the hold. [inaudible] hold. Feel your leg, feel your arms hold and be there and rest. All right, let's go down to just one spring. I suspect it would be nice to have the bar out of the way for this one, but you can keep it up and make it the challenge of, um, make the challenge holding your legs above the bar.

I like a blue spring for my pulling straps. You're welcome to use a full spring, but I really like a blue spring personally, so that's where I'm at. You're going to lie on your belly with your chest off just a bit. Okay, so settle in. So your chest is hanging off just a bit, but your arms are still energized. If you want to get a little more range of motion, go ahead and wrap your hands around for this first one and you'll feel like you can take your arms more forward. I like that to lift the legs, think about the legs, open the heart and pull yourself up to your back extension position and lower down and again, feel that reach with your arms and we're going to lift, open the heart. Find a wonderful thoracic extended position.

Check in with your belly muscles and feel how your low back feels when you do. If you're not using them, you'll probably be uh, using your low back. A little too much meaning if you're not using your belly muscles, just do this one more time here. Hold this lifted position. Bend your elbows and straight. One more time and we gently come down.

One more exercise in this position. Adjust your hold so that you're not wrapped anymore and perhaps you're going to hold the straps instead of the tapes. So you want less spring. We're going to lift first to that same extended position and then open the arms out to a t and then we're going to pull the arms in an external rotation. Yeah, straight arms. The whole time back extension stays the same. Pull the arms down by your side. Lower down.

Oops. Stop her. Came a little fast into a standing position. How about we finish up right where we started just at the back edge here and that deep squat. I'll just sit back, find the reformer bar, use whatever you might need to to hold on. Perhaps you want to lift it up. I find if I just hold on somewhere, it feels nice. Breathing in and breathing out. Check in with your back. How does it feel different after everything we did? You feel like you have more range? Do you feel tired? You feel looser?

Oh, make your way up to a standing position and just take a moment. Standing with your feet grounded to the earth. Lifting your body up. Right. Thank you for playing.

Pilates Play: A 10-Day Challenge of Fun: with Sarah Bertucelli


1 person likes this.
Low spine is always a challenge for me, great class thank you Sarah!
1 person likes this.
I can’t even properly articulate how much I am loving this challenge!

Very interesting to me, the things that were more of a leg round back squats are apparently something I need very much to work on so I don’t just keep collapsing down onto the reformer. I don’t know if I will ever do tendon stretch, but I was able to sit on footbar and attempt to lift myself, which is further than I’ve gone before. I think it is more of a fear for me than anything, but am continuing to improve my upper body strength in the meantime. I loved the teaser exercises. It was also interesting to see which foot positions made it easier to do a spinal articulation. So much to discover!

This is really an outstanding challenge. Only day four and I know it is the best challenge I’ve taken and one that will be fully incorporated into my playlists.

It is so much fun! Thanks so very much!

Hi Lori, Thank you so very much for your comments. I really enjoyed the process of creating this challenge, but taking the classes has been eye opening for me as well. So fun to explore our bodies through movement! As for Tendon Stretch, keep at it. For most, it provokes some fear. Keep using the tools and let me know when you do it!!
1 person likes this.
Thanks for the new challenges. Finding more length and strength😊
1 person likes this.
The No-hand stomach massage was awesome! i've been working on my upper back and this exercise was excellent. Trying to even get my feet to lift in the side seated tendon stretch? The first try I thought, no way is this happening. The third try...up they (and my bottom) went! You never know til you try (and try, and try). Thank you for another fun day.
1 person likes this.
Perfect class after vacation! Loved the spinal articulations with teaser positions. The stomach massage felt wonderful. Thank you:)
The classes just keep getting better & better. Love them.
Yippee! Keep on playing Pilates.
2 people like this.
Can't pick a favorite yet, because all of them have been awesome and challenging. I personally love the little challenges within the challenge, the details, and flow in each day. Thank you so so so much Sarah for wanting to share this....and thanks to Pilates Anytime to make this possible. ❤️
1 person likes this.
I'm also working my way through each Challenge - and they are fantastic - educational, different, and so much to learn and practise - thank you so so much! Great classes x
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