Class #4192

Integrating Bone Building

65 min - Class


Sherri Betz continues her Frail to Fit series with this class focused on building bone density and muscle strength for your hips and spine. You will gain a renewed sense of vitality through functional strength training and traditional Mat exercises. Take a moment of pause at the end to recognize the work you have done along with positive visualizations and affirmations. The props you will need for this class are a box full of weights such as soup cans, a Pilates pole or broomstick, a pillow, a small ball or big rolled towel, and a Yoga strap or dog leash.
What You'll Need: Mat, Yoga Strap, Towel, Pilates Pole


Read Full Transcript

Hey, everybody. We're gonna put the bone building principles into practice. This class is for the fit older adult or young adult with either low bone density, osteoporosis, or normal bone density that wants to build their strength and their bone strength. So we're going to be focusing on muscle strength and bone strength. I feel like Pilates classes often are missing some balancing exercises, some leg strengthening exercises, and some pulling.

You don't really do any pulling because there's no props or TheraBands or springs in a mat class. So we're going to incorporate some principles of bone building that's going to target the bones of the hip and the bones of the spine in this class. And it'll look a lot like a Pilates mat class toward the end of the class. In the beginning of the class, we're going to be doing some weightlifting and learning how to lift properly to build the bones of the spine and the hips. So you'll need a few props for this class.

I have a box that I'm putting all my things in. So I have my towel rolls for my thoracic extension. If you have a foam roller or a ball, you can use that. I have my sugar, my flour, my bags of beans, water bottles, soup cans, filling the box for adding weight, if you don't have dumbbells or barbell. And then I'm going to have your broomstick and a pillow to cushion your ribs for the prone exercises.

So there are a few props that you'll need for the class, but it's everything that you can find in your home. So it should be easy to do. We're going to start with the dowel on your back, and I'm going to stand sideways so that you can see better. And I like to put the dowel against the three bones of contact here and putting my thumb in between the stick and your low back. So I'm going to come close to the camera so you can see a little better.

If my thumb is right between my stick and my low back, then you can see my thumb wiggling there, and you create that space in the lumbar spine. And I like to call people honoring their curves of their back. And then when you start to bend forward, you'll want to keep those three bones of contact or three places of contact, head, mid-back, and sacrum against the dowel and hinge at the hips. So this is gonna make sure that you protect your spine. You keep your spine aligned as you load it.

'Cause our spine needs to respond to what we do with it. So if we keep it loaded, we'll help to protect the bones in the front of the spine. And then we're mobilizing our hips as well and strengthening our legs. So super functional activity. So great for warming up the body.

And I'm about the width of my mat here, or about as wide as my shoulders. And now what my goal is, is to sit way back and see if I can touch the mat. If you cannot sit back and touch the mat without those three bones of contact staying against the dowel, then you shouldn't be lifting. And you'll just practice warming up and doing our exercise without weights. Or you can use handles that are on the top of a box, if you have that option.

All right, now, I'm going to put the dowel aside. I'm going to grab my box. I love my box because it has all my stuff in it. So I keep all my weights, my TheraBands, my bags of sugar, rice, beans. And then how much weight do you put in the box?

So when you get started, if you haven't done weight training before, or tried to do what we call a dead lift, you'll need to put some things in there that weigh maybe five pounds. So maybe a bag of sugar, a bag of flour, whatever you have in your house that you know how much it weighs, put about five pounds in there. And then I'm gonna place the box on the floor. So notice I don't have to hand forward very far if I'm holding the handles of the box. If I tilt the box to the side and go underneath it, then I have to really flex my hips fully.

And some people don't have that range of motion, but you're going to see if you can get that mobility and be able to lift. So this is why people get hurt a lot, cause they don't have good hip mobility. All right, shoulders down and back and then standing up. So if that feels like you cannot keep the spine in alignment, then you're going to have to lift your box from the handles instead of from the bottom. Now, we're going to see if we can do at least 10 repetitions.

There's four, touch the box to the floor, and five, and six, and seven, eight, nine, and 10. Now, suss out how you feel, right? Do you feel tired? If that was easy, you need more weight in your box. If you feel like you could keep going, then you definitely need more weight in your box.

If you're pooped and you can't do another one, then that's exactly the right amount of weight. You can't make it to eight repetitions, then you need to take some weight out of the box. All right, so I'm going to do five more. And then what I wanna focus on now is, when I touch the box to the floor, I'm really got to be careful that I don't let my shoulders protract, 'cause that'll make my thoracic spine round. So we're going to pull the shoulders back and down into a retracted position.

And you notice how much that makes your glutes work more. And then stand up, touch and lift. Now, don't let those shoulders protract. Touch and lift, touch, and lift, touch and lift. So again, you should be pooped by the time you get to 10 and can't do another one.

You might be a little breathless. All right, now, I'm going to put this box aside and I'm going to take my sugar and my flour out of it. I've always got my bags of sugar and flour around. And I just stick them in my Pilates Whisperer bags. My Pilates Method Alliance bag.

They work perfectly for that. And then I'm going to do another exercise with the bags of flour. Now, if you have dumbbells, you can certainly use those, these weigh about five pounds. All right, now I'm going to hinge forward at my hip joints and try to get my trunk as parallel to the floor as possible. And then I'm going to do one called the W position.

So these are flies. And I'm doing those flies to really target my back. And again, more parallel to the floor as possible. And then I'll show you from the back. Really, thumbs go up and back.

So if you were standing tall, it would look like this. But you're hinting at the hips and really trying to keep those shoulders in external rotation. This is a great shoulder exercise. If this tends to hurt your neck or shoulders, you can do just rows here like this. And that's usually easier on the shoulders, if you have shoulder issues.

So this can also be done standing on a TheraBand. So if you wanted to stand on a TheraBand, you can do the same exercise using resistance. If you're traveling and you don't have your bags of weights with you, you can use a TheraBand. Okay, I'm going to keep these in my hands or nearby. Get my dowel again.

All right, my next exercise is going to be a lunge. I want to step forward on my mat at least three feet. My mat is about six feet long. So I know it's kind of an optical illusion on the camera. So I'm going to step forward three feet.

If I cannot step forward three feet, then I shouldn't really be doing a lunge because I have limited hip mobility. It's going to put a lot of stress on the knee if you have tightness in the hip and especially this rectus femoris muscle. So I'm trying to get vertical on my posture. And my lunge preparation is just going to be heel down, heel up. This looks a lot like Eve's lunge on the reformer with straight knees at first, and then with bent knees, bent front knee, straight back knee.

And I like to transition that Eve's lunge to the mat. I just love that exercise. Eyes forward, trunk is vertical. So if you want to check in, make sure you're in the proper alignment. Your trunk is vertical.

Your three points of contact are against your mat. So I'll do about 10 heel raises, lifting the heel. You're going to notice I have shoes on. You do not want to do these weightlifting exercises with shoes off because if you drop a weight on your foot, it does not feel good. All right, so keeping the heel lifted, bend both knees.

And notice that I didn't drop my knee to the ground. And when I'm at the gym, I see people just, like, collapsing down to the ground. So my energy is up as I bend that back knee and I keep my pelvis lifted. And now I bend my front knee and I'm going to go straight down a quarter of the way, then halfway down, then three quarters down, and then full. So we're going to make sure that you can handle your own body weight.

So dowel is in front of you. And again, if this is not without pain, then you're going to need to back it down, go against the doorframe. Or you can watch the class that I taught on the 25th of June. That is one of the live classes on the Pilates Anytime website that I showed how to modify if you are not strong enough to do this one. So you've gotta be able to do at least 10 of these.

Then, we step together and we're going to do the other side warming up, and then I'm going to add the weight for the next set. Okay, step forward with the left foot, right foot back, dowel is in front of me, and then stretch and lift, and stretch and lift. Super important that that back foot is pointed straight ahead, warming up the ankle, warming up the calf, warming up the front of the hip, and lengthening through that front of that hip. So hip mobility is so important for our function as we age. All right, now, we're going to stay lifted in that back heel and really think of our energy going up, bend both knees and then slowly descend, kind of check the waters, test the waters, to see how your knee feels.

And those of you with knee pain, I know that knee pain is a troublesome thing that sometimes it hurts, one day it'll hurt one day it'll feel great. And just see how you're feeling. And do not work through pain. You never want to strengthen a painful pattern. And then we go all the way to the ground.

And take it back up. So we want to make sure that we're not going forward. We're going straight up and down. So the weight is distributed across both legs. One more like that.

All right. Now I'm going to put the dowel aside. If you felt challenged by that, then you can keep the dowel and do another set without weight here. I'm going to add some weight. So I'm going to go back to my first leg, right foot forward, left foot back, square off those hips. Get my back foot parallel.

Weights right at my side, shoulders down, eyes forward. Here we go. Slow little bend, kind of check it out. See how you feel. You may not be able to go all the way down, but it's really best that you use the amount of weight that you can easily manage.

So it might be just two water bottles in your hands. It could be a grandchild that you're holding while you're exercising. That's a great idea. They love to exercise with you. And then take it all the way down.

Touch the knee to the floor. Four and five, and six, and seven, eight, nine, and 10. And again, shoes are important to protect your feet. Step back, other side. Stretch the back heel down and back, working that calf, working the ankle, getting that mobility, improving long stride walking, and then keeping that vertical torso targeting the quads for the lunges and the glutes for the squats.

All right, now, lift the heel, both knees bend quarter of the way down and up, halfway down. So it's very important you keep your heel lifted so you don't collapse into your back ankle. And then touch the floor. One, two, three, four, five, six. Notice that I'm going straight up and down, not forward, seven, eight, nine, feeling those quads burning, and 10.

All right, step together. And then we're going to put these aside. All right. Now we can take our shoes off. So I'm going to step aside, take my shoes off and go to the next set. So next we're going to work on balance.

And I like the feet to be bare so that you can really feel the floor with your feet. And you want to feel all of those receptors on the ends of your feet. So let's start with the dowel in our hand, feet together, and just notice that base of support with your feet together is always more challenging to balance. So you probably don't need the dowel in your hand, but for the next things you probably will. So heels up and down.

So the purpose of the bilateral heel raise is not really for strength, it's pretty easy for most people to do this. It's to get the ankles in the right alignment and to get your brain to kind of figure out that alignment and honor that alignment, remember that alignment when you go onto one foot. So heels together. If you have valgus in your knees, you might need a little tennis ball to separate your heels. Two more. And lift.

All right, now, dowel is in your left hand, lift the right leg up, hold steady here. Lift the dowel. Hold there. Can you turn your head and look at something to the left? And center, woo, really makes you work. And right, and center.

So really trying to get the vestibular system to be a little bit challenged. Put the dowel back down. Rise up on the tip toe. So an older adult, 65 to 80, should actually be able to do 25 heel raises. So we're going to do about 20 today.

Three, four, feel free to rest if you need to. Six, every one should be equal to the next one. So the first one should be the same height as the last one, eight, nine, 10. Again, picking the dowel up if you can. If you can't do it, then go ahead and put it down.

13, 14, 15, keep lifting 16, 17, 18, feel that whole leg working. 19, last one, and 20. Whew. Good one. All right. Other side. Now, I'm going to put the dowel in my other hand and then taking it over.

All right. Lifting the other leg. You want the dowel on the same side as the leg that you're standing on to encourage the weight shift to that side. All right. So here we go. Try a couple with a dowel down, get your bearings, get your confidence, focal point in front of you. A vertical line in front of you is really helpful.

Now, I'm going to pick my dowel up six, seven, eight, nine, 10, 11, 12, 13. Come on. You got this, 14, 15 whole leg's working. 16, 17, 18, 19, and 20. All right. We made it. Shake it out a little bit.

And you can always add weights with that once you get to the point where you can do 25 fairly easily. Okay, so we're going to turn our feet to a V position and work a little bit on some dynamic balancing. So arms out to the side. I want you to step way out to the side of your mat and just take a moment to check out your alignment. Knee over the middle of the foot, not rolling in, arch is lifted.

Can I lift my big toe? That means my foot is probably in a better, pretty good alignment. And then square off the pelvis so that I'm not hinging or collapsing on one side. So you want your pelvis square to the front and then eyes forward. All right, we're going to bend that knee, step together.

And we're going to go to the same side. Step it out and together five times. A little dynamic balancing. And you know, what's going to happen next, right? I'm gonna want you to pick that dowel up.

Okay, so pick the dowel up. There we go. Two, and three, and four, and staying lengthened in your torso. All right. Now, you're going to make it even more challenging.

Come back to center and balance. If you need to put your dowel down, feel free to do so. Take it down and up. Step side and up, three and up. So that turned out position is quite challenging.

It's a little easier to do in parallel. One more. Woo hoo. Very good. All right. Step together. Change the dowel to the other side. Step over on your mat a little bit, and then turn your feet to the V.

Get really tall in your torso. Stretch out your arms. All right, here we go. Stepping out like the Fred Astaire dance routine. I need a little hat, right? (laughs) And two, three and four. And five, and now pick the dowel up, six, and seven and eight, step together, last one.

All right. And how we're going to try to balance then hover. Woo. All right, got it. I always wonder about that first one. Woo, you have to figure out how far do I have to push to get over my base of support? And quite challenging for your balance.

Especially if you're on carpet or a squishy surface. All right. Holding there. All right. Well done, everybody. Okay, now, we're going to go down to the mat. And I want you to get one little prop for me.

You can grab a strap or a dog leash, bathrobe belt, neck tie, and then have a towel roll or a massage ball available. I use these eight-inch massage balls from Power Systems. they're called Myo therapy balls, and then a Yamuna body rolling ball works great. A Gertie ball is good, but it's pretty soft. Another thing you can do is fold up your towels in half and then in half again, take two bath towels, stack them up and then roll them up, so that you kind of go grab all your props that you need for right now.

Okay. And you'll have them all ready when we get down to the mat. The other thing you might need is a pillow for your rib cage. If you have low bone density, when we go into prone position on a hard floor, you'll need a rib cushion, okay? So I'm gonna put that aside here and I'll grab that when I need it.

Okay. Picking your dowel up, we're going to use that lunge series that we just did to transition gracefully to the mat. So taking one foot forward, and then we bend both knees and we descend slowly towards the mat. Now, if you have some weakness, you can certainly put your hand on your thigh, hold onto your dowel, and kind of lower yourself slowly to the floor. So don't bang your knee on the floor.

We're going to go into all fours. And I'm teaching this class at a higher level of challenge for Pilates teachers or for people that do Pilates that are pretty fit. And so quadruped is a great starter. And you can certainly use this position. I want you to think about your hand position and wrist position.

So hands are parallel to the shoulders, are a little wider than the shoulders. That's usually friendlier to the shoulders. And then watch that you're not locking your elbows. Want to bend your elbows slightly in the parenthesis arm shape. So pulling your mat apart with your arms and keeping your arms in this position.

So hands are on the outside edge of the mat. Fingertips or pinkies are on the outside edge, palms flat. Now, if you have pain in your wrists, feel free to shift your weight back a little bit. And that eases the wrist quite a bit. Bend the elbows, and then we're going to go into either plank position or one leg down.

So either with the knee down lifting one leg or both feet back into a plank and lifting one leg. So same thing, either leg pull or quadruped, whatever works for you. Find your challenge point. You should be imagining that you're having a glass of water on the back of your head, your mid back and your sacrum. All right, put that foot down.

Either put the left knee down and lift the right leg or stay in your plank. Here we go. One, two, three. Notice my spine is not moving and my pelvis is low. Eight, nine, and 10. And then take the heels back and forth, back and forth.

Now take it up into inverted V or up stretch, and then stretch one heel down and up, other heel down and up, trying to really keep your spine in a neutral position. Lift that tailbone to get that hamstring stretch and the whole posterior chain. And then let's take it all the way down to the mat. And then all the way back into an extended child's pose, stretching through the low back a little bit, and let's take it up to sitting. And then we're going to sit on the mat with the hands behind the thighs.

Okay, hold here, lengthen the spine, breathe in. And then let's hinge back and forward. So we're going to really start to work our hip flexors mostly when our spine is in neutral. Hinge back and forward. I love to talk about the difference between navasana in yoga, which is a boat pose, which is done in more of a neutral spine position, and teaser in Pilates, which is done more in a curled spine position.

So the navasana, or the neutral spine position is going to work more the hip flexors, taking it back and up, and take it back and up, and finding that neutral position. So you're going to feel much more hip flexor work on this one in your neck. And now we're going to do a slight little curl in that low back and then take it up. So you can think of your pelvis being like a little wheel rolling back. And then back up, but no collapsing in your spine, no curve in your upper back.

So just a small little pelvic curl, and then take it back and stay. All right. Open right arm right and center, left arm left and center, right arm right and center, holding that position, slight posterior tilt. Open both arms and center, and both arms and center. Take it all the way up and stretch up, lengthen the spine.

So everything we do, we try to do in as long a spine as possible. Circle the arms back, place them behind you. Bring your knees in a little bit, feet in a little bit, rotate your knees to the right and left. And just notice that when you rotate to the left, don't let that right shoulder follow. So keep that right shoulder back where it is.

And people think this is like a lumbar rotation, which it is, but I feel like it's much more of an upper body stretch. So I feel like I get this really great opening of the chest, little nerve glide of the median nerve down the hand, down to the arm. And you can rotate your head with it if you'd like. And then one more. Nice little transition.

Take the legs up to a tabletop position, hold here, and let's touch one foot down and up. So I'm in a slight posterior tilt. So you won't get the abdominals firing as much if you don't do a little bit of a posterior tilt with this position. So this is what I call the modified teaser for people with low bone density. And straighten one leg, lower and lift.

And again, I'm targeting you guys that are fit. So let's do this. Hold that position. If your back starts to hurt, please get back to the bent knee version, extend the other leg, lower and lift. No change in the upper body, no change in the torso. Lower and lift, lower and lift.

All right, going for the big time, right? Big girl, Pilates, and then lower and lift, and big boy, too, lower and lift, lower and lift, lower and lift. Who says you can't challenge yourself with low bone density? All right, bring it in, place the feet down. Let's do another one of those little resting positions, ah, feeling that lovely rotation side-to-side.

Get all the rest of the cracks out of the spine. And then one more time. All right, now we're going to lie all the way on the mat. So I want to make sure my head is going to end up on the mat. And then I want to be careful about how I do it.

I can either plank down, right? Just lie down like that in a plank position without rolling down. Or I could, if I wanted to, roll to my side, lay on the mat like that and come on down. All right, we're going to start with bridging, putting the feet about hip width the part. If you have your feet open, you're going to get more mobilization of your lumbar spine.

Let's breathe in here and breathe out. We're gonna peel that spine up off the mat. So don't skip the very first part of it. That juicy part is where that lumbar spine really starts to move, and you really want to focus on that if you have low bone density. We're going to take it all the way up until we're standing between our shoulder blades and the lowest ribs are pretty much down towards the mat, and we don't have a lot of stress on our neck.

There's a lot of controversy about bridging and osteoporosis, but this bridge is safe for osteoporosis. Breathe in and lengthen. And let's breathe out and really lengthen as we roll down one bone at a time. So we're really trying to decompress those vertebral bodies as we roll down. And I apologize, I've got a little bump in the road here with that microphone on my waistline.

Breathe in and breathe out to peel up, lengthening the spine, reaching the tailbone across the room, holding here. Once I get to the top, I'm going to check in. Shoulders, ribs, hips, knees in one line, and then rolling down. It's a lovely spinal articulation exercises that are safe for people with osteoporosis to keep the joints of the spine healthy and from getting stiff. All right, now for the fun stuff.

We're going to peel up to the top, really getting each bone to take it's turn, lengthening up, holding here, feel those glutes really working. All right now, rotate and just put one buttock on the floor. And I want you to feel the place where you start to feel the spine more. I feel it more in the mid thoracic area and notice where you feel this in your spine. Maybe it's the mid thoracic, might be lumbar, might be the sacroiliac joint.

This is one of my barometers for checking the health of the sacroiliac joint. If you have pain with this, you might want to consult a physical therapist who specializes in treatment of the pelvic girdle to get that fixed. And then rolling down one bone at a time. All right? So that was the fun bridge. Now we're going to work. Put the feet together.

We're going to do the stability bridge. Straight up, picking the pelvis up, straight up, lunar liftoff. All right, holding there. Put your hands on your pelvis. Do not let your pelvis drop.

Lift one knee, extend the leg, flex the foot and point. Now, it doesn't have to be vertical, but what it does need to be is straight. So if you cannot straighten your knee, then get it to the point where you can straighten it, because I want you to get that knee straight, get that quad working, 'cause that's going to release your hamstring. If you don't get the quad working, you're not going to release the hamstring. Neurologically, that's a really great way to stretch the hamstrings.

Flex and point and don't let that pelvis drop. Flex and point, flex and point. So you're flossing that sciatic nerve. If you want even more floss, you take it across a little bit, floss. 'Cause I know that people with pain often get inhibited by trying to build strength.

Gotta deal with the pain first, all right? Take it up, lower, point to lift. Flex to lower, point to lift. Flex to lower, point to lift. Five more like that.

Six, and seven, and eight, and nine, yes, I know that left glute's working. One more. Okay. Flex that foot. We're going to pulse it up. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, and 10.

Put that foot down. Don't come down if you can help it. If you need to rest, of course, do so. But see if you can stay up there. Okay, we're going to developpe the other leg up, and again, straight leg.

It might be here. Depends on your mobility. So knee straight, flex the foot and point. And flex, and point, flex and point, flex and point, flex and point. One more time, flex and point Now, flex, and now we're going to lower that leg down and lift it up.

Now, lower and lift, lower and lift, lower and lift, inhale to lower, exhale, lift. Three more. Last one. Flex the foot, pulse it up. One, two, whole pelvis lifts, five, six, seven, eight, nine, and 10.

All right, hold those hips up. Rolling down one bone at a time. Lengthening as you roll. (sighs) All right. Bring those knees to your chest. Feeling a little relaxation in the hips and glutes. Love to work those glutes.

It's so great for bone health and for posture, bone density, muscle strength, walking ability and lifting. Yes. Our glutes are really important. All right, now comes the dog leash, bathrobe belt, neck tie, yoga strap, whatever you got. All right, now, I'm going to stretch out the strap, put it down under my low back and wrap it around my waist. Find my belly button. Belly button is just opposite L3.

That's the apex of the lumbar curve. And we're going to make sure that we're doing our abdominal exercises correctly. All right. So first, I'm going to do a slight posterior tilt and press that low back into the strap. Tug on the strap.

Oh good. It's snugly fastened down. Pretty easy when your feet are down, right? Now, we're going to lift one leg up. Can you hold that? This is my abdominal strength test. It's what I do with every patient I see.

Can you lift that second leg up? Tug on the strap. Make sure that you can keep that strap down. Now, extend one leg. Can you hold that strap down? Extend the other leg. Can you hold it down?

Now, can you lower it to about a foot off the floor? All right, let's talk about that for a second. If your neck hurts or you're trying to push into your head, put a pillow under your head, it makes a huge difference. So you can just put a pillow under your and your shoulders and that kind of biases your rib cage towards your pelvis. And will take some of the stress off your neck.

So feel free to do that, if you'd like, and then press the low back down again, lift the leg up, lift the other leg up, and then see if that feels a little bit better. I'm going to say one more thing. If you need something thicker, if you have a big curve in your back and you're trying to press your back down and then your neck is going astray and your chin is jutting up toward the ceiling, your back just doesn't flatten all the way, that's perfectly fine. Honor your curves. So put like a thick towel, like Fletcher towel works great under your back, or something a little thicker, like a hand towel rolled up under your back.

And you can use that if you have a big inward curve in your back. Don't try to force yourself into that flat back position. I'm just trying to say, when you get into the position to work your abdominals, you stay wherever you started with your feet down. So if I can get here easily without compromise to my upper body, back feels good and my abdominal wall firm, lift up, no bulging of the belly, no lifting of the back, no overflow to the shoulders. So if I could go there, that's great.

Now, I'm going to just press that back down onto my strap, tug on it, make sure I got it down. Then I start to challenge myself. Here's the second challenge, right? And the third challenge. And then the last one is that this will be a five out of five abdominal strength.

And I can do the hundred here with my head down. And believe me, it's not easier than with your head up. It's actually harder. Your abdominals are lengthened. You're gonna pulse the arms. (loud exhaling) Four counts breathing in, four counts breathing out.

Two, three, four, and in two, three, four, and out, two, three, four. And in two, three, four. Now, you might be here doing your hundred, or here. Feel free to be where you need to be, where you have control of your back. 'Cause that's the whole point is controlling our spine.

That's why we're doing this. All right. Now, next exercise. I'm going to lift the legs up in the air. Tabletop position, 90 degree angles. Hold that position. Is my back down?

I'm going to open my leg out to the right. Now, this can be done in a neutral position as well, if that's better for you. Open and close. The main thing is that I'm not moving my pelvis as I open my leg out to the side. Now, I'm going to open my leg out to the side, add a little challenge.

Extend the leg out, bring it back in and bring it to center. Inhale to open left, extend the left, bend the left, exhale back to center. Inhale, open right, extend the right, bend the right, exhale back to center. (loud exhaling) One more. Now, we're going to do four times with the leg straight.

This leg has a glass of water balancing on it. Do not let it move. One and two, and three, and four, bring it back in. So this is kind of my equivalent of leg circles. It's a little more accessible to people if they don't have good hamstring mobility, it's a lot easier to do if you don't have good hamstring length.

All right, bring it back in and then place the feet down. All right, we're going to go over onto our side. Get up on the elbow. You've got your pillow here if you need it. You can put it under your forearm if that elbow or forearm is sensitive.

Flex the feet, and you want your shoulder right over your elbow. So I'm gonna take the pillow away so you can see better. And then, I really want to make sure I'm not sagging down into that shoulder. I'm going to lift up. So this is already an exercise for the upper body.

So once you get everything stacked up, get lengthened from head to heels, pretend like you're against a wall behind your mat. And then your head, mid-back, and sacrum is against that wall, calves against the wall, heels against the wall. So it's a great idea to actually get against the wall to do it and really make sure you're in alignment. You get your head a lot better in alignment when you get against the wall. Now, we're keeping that that shoulder lifted, so we create space in that shoulder joint before we load it.

Now, the advanced way to do it would be to lift both hips up into the air with both knees straight. If that's not working for you, you're certainly able to bend this bottom knee. And then, sometimes reaching up and over is actually easier. So feel free to bend the bottom knee if you're not strong enough to do it. I just love this exercise because it works ankle stability, it works the outer hip, the gluteus medius, IT band, your torso, your abdominals, your obliques, and your shoulder girdle.

It's just such an multipurpose exercise. All right, now I'm going to show you another little trick that helps. So if you take a ball and put it under your rib cage, if you have shoulder problems from sagging into that arm, it gives you a little more support to the shoulder, and then you can bend the bottom knee and do your little hip lift like that, and then you come back down on that ball. So the larger ball, this one's a little bit squishy, a larger ball might even help more. So feel free to gradually increase your strength if you're not strong in this position.

Okay. Now we're going to take the ball away and go onto our stomach up on the forearms. Okay, getting ready for a single leg kick. So I love my little preparation for single leg kick. I think it's a great one for preparing for planks, working the abdominals safely if you have osteoporosis, and then also working the shoulder girdle as well. So I'm just going to sag down for a minute.

We don't want to be there, right? Want to press away from the mat and look at a line right between your thumbs, breathe in. Breathe out to scoop the hips up and then take it back down. If this position bothers your shoulders, a really nice way to do it is to clasp the hands together. That's usually easier on the shoulders, if you need to do that, and then scoop the hips up.

So try both positions and see if you can feel what I'm talking about. And then scoop and lift. So it's a small scoop. My head does not drop. I keep my eyes on my thumbs, and I'm thinking of bungee cords from my ribs to my pelvis, pelvis to the ribs and pubic bone to the breastbone. So I've got three little bungee cords there.

I'm scooping the belly up, and then I'm going to lift up and hold. So I'm going to play tug of war with my pelvis, Bend my right knee, flex the foot, pull the heel towards the buttock. And let's milk that a few times. One, two, keep the pelvis lifted. Three, four, and five.

So I'm really stretching that rectus femoris, but my abdominals are not allowing my pelvis to arch or move. Three, four, and five, coming down with the pubic bone, breathe in, breathe out to lift. Scoop that pubic bone two inches off the mat, bend the right knee. One, two, three, four, and five, put it down. Keep the pelvis lifted, bend the left knee.

One, two, you feel that beautiful stretch in the thigh? Four and five, and then take it down. All right, go into the other side. I'm going to roll just straight over on my mat, facing away so you can see the back of the body. And then stack up the feet, all 10 toes in a row, lifting up.

If I need the ball under my rib cage, I can put it here and support my shoulder. It usually feels really good to the shoulder. And you can just be here and lift the top leg if you have a shoulder issue. And then, if you're okay with that and you can bend the bottom leg, lift up and then take it back down, and lift up and down. Now, if you want to the most challenging one, make sure that you can see your bottom pinky toe, that your foot is in neutral ankle alignment and then lift up.

Then you will get the peroneal muscles, the ankle sprain muscles, ankle sprain prevention exercise right here. Shoulder is really stable. Torso is lifting. Great core exercise. Lengthening up one more time. And then coming up to sitting.

All right, coming up to sitting. Now, got some options here. Ball, squishy ball for beginners. Firm ball if you really want some good mobilization to your back. If you don't have a ball, towel rolls.

Okay, so get your two thick towel rolls place them on the mat. So again, it can be towel rolls or the ball, and then you put the towel roll as low as possible on your back of your waistline. So below your shoulder blades, above your L-3, on your lowest ribs. Don't put it in your low back. Okay. And then immediately put your hands behind your head, interlacing your fingers and give yourself some traction and get into a neutral position.

So you might feel a little quivery in the abdominals. And then, holding there, pressing the ribcage toward the pelvis. And get the ear, shoulder, hip in one line so that you're in a neutral spine position. That's your starting position. And if you're in a small room or inside, you can look at the crown molding if you have a normal height ceiling.

And then take it back and then look at the ceiling right above you, you can do that. And then wrap your spine around the towels and look at the wall behind you or the crown molding behind you. And notice that my neck is not moving at all. So if I had a cervical collar around my neck, it wouldn't move at all. So I like to put my hand around my neck, pull my elbow forward, and make sure that I'm not nodding yes and no.

I'm staying lengthened in the neck and trying to target the bones right behind my breastbone. Really trying to get the reverse of the thoracic curve. If you have a Dowager's hump, or if you have a thoracic kyphosis, this is to help reverse that, all right, or prevent it if you don't have it. One of my clients calls it the hump reduction program, Hump prevention program, that HP or HR program. All right, now, elbows wide and let's feel what that feels like.

So you really get a chest stretch. And a lot of times your chest is limiting your thoracic mobility. So opening the elbows wide. So those of you that have a foam roller at home, you can do this on the foam roller as well, but you just can't go up into the neck with it. All right. Now, breathing out to come up.

Now we're going to go to the next level, lift your hips. And if you're on a towel, you have to kind of wiggle yourself forward to go to a couple of vertebras higher, and then elbows toward the ceiling and then take it up, and then come forward. And then lift. Elbows look at the wall behind you. I always think of I have elbows on my, sorry, eyes on my elbows, and then eyes under my collar bones. They're all looking in the same direction as the eyes of my head.

Everything's moving together and I'm really targeting that point of contact on the towels or the ball. And I'm going to go forward again, inhale to drape around those towels. And then back up and then wrap it around. And up, exhale, inhale to stretch. And up, and then taking it up to the, what I call the Dowager's hump.

And then the most prominent bone at the base of your neck is going to be, like, T1, T2 area. And so a lot of times it's really hard to do anything here. So what we're going to do is change the movement that we're doing, and we're going to do what I call the chicken and the swan. So the chicken is basically here. We don't want to be a chicken, right?

We want to be the swan. So we want to pull back and forward, and pull back and forward, and then pull it back. And you're gonna feel a little stretch in the back of your neck. And then let's lift the hips up. And so especially, if you're on a ball, you can pull the head back in relation to that spot that's on the ball or the towel rolls and then really try to get the cervical spine to retract.

You're going to feel something in your throat, and we're trying to keep the eyes on the ceiling. And then, the whole time your face stays parallel to the floor, and you're really lengthening through the back of the neck. All right, now for the good stuff, we're going to roll all the way forward. And then we're either going to put the towels right in the nape of the neck and just rest here for a moment. Let the shoulders drop.

I know you guys think that this is the end of the class, but we have some more work to do. And I'll explain why. So another wonderful thing about the ball is that when you get to this point, you put the ball under the nape of your neck. The towel rolls are great for that, but you can really get specific where you release neck tension with this one. It feels so good to get that suboccipital release and really feel like your neck is releasing on the ball.

And feel free to take your time. It takes about three minutes to do a full myofascial release, to change the quality of the tissues from more crystalline to more gelatinous. And take your time with that. So when you're at home on your own, find your sore spots and just melt them. All right, now, removing the ball from behind your head, lie down on your back and just feel, wow, I can really feel that I'm much lower and much more flat in my spine, maybe I can get more vertebrae on the mat.

(sighs) It feels good. All right, now, so that was wonderful for mobilizing the spine, but that doesn't do anything to strengthen the spine. So as you may know, if you're studying anything about osteoporosis Senaki and Nicholson did a study, or did a chart review many years ago, looking at the best exercises to build bone in the spine and also to prevent fractures. So the women that did, with osteoporosis that did prone extension exercises had much better results in fracture prevention than the women who did flection exercises. So if you lie on your stomach and put your pillow or your towels folded up under your rib cage, you need to protect your ribs from pressure on the mat.

I have had people, not in my classes, thank goodness, but I've had colleagues and friends tell me that people have had fractures from pressing the ribs into the mat too much. So stack your hands up right on top of each other, place your head on your hands, and then bring your elbows wide on the mat and try to get your armpits as close to the floor as possible. The reason for that is to get the thoracic spine to go into more and more extension. And you want to try to press your breastbone in towards the mat and notice that that extends through the thoracic spine a lot. So if you are up here when you start your exercise, you're starting in thoracic flexion.

So we want to get as much thoracic extension as possible by walking those hands forward, walking those elbows forward, hands stay under your forehead, and then just press into the tops of your feet and the pubic bone. So that's going to keep you from going too much into your low back and really targeting the bones and muscles at the top of the spine, top of the thoracic spine. So keeping your eyes on your thumbs, feel your face lift off the hands. And you're going to feel a little stretch of the skin under your arms. So don't let your elbows slide.

It's hard not to do that, but don't let your elbows slide as you lift your face as far away from the mat as you can. So that's about as far as I can go. And I'm really targeting those bones right at the top of my spine. And then holding there. Can I hold there and lift one hand to my forehead, elbow lower than hand, and then switch hands?

See if I can do the other side. If you have a shoulder problem, you can just do one side. and then lift both hands and see if you can keep your elbows lower than your hands. And can you keep your heads head floating in space? Wherever it started is where it needs to stay.

And then you lift your hands to your forehead. So holding that so your spine and head are not moving, just your hands, moving towards your forehead, keeping your elbows low so that you don't lift using your neck. So I really feel like the reason we have weakness in our back and a lot of osteoporosis is that we use our neck instead of our upper back to do things. So I'm really anchoring with the upper back. Now, to advance it, we're going to keep the hands against the forehead, lower down and lift, lower down and lift, lower and lift, lower and lift.

Keeping the tops of your feet on the floor, pubic bone down on the floor, and keeping your low back or lumbar spine lengthened. All right now, from here, we're going to change the position. Hands to a goalpost position, widen through the elbows and try to get as high as we can without moving the forearms. Now, notice here, you can actually get to your mid-back here. You're moving a little bit lower in the thoracic spine.

Now, from here, lift your hands off the mat. This is going to be more of a rotator cuff exercise. You're asking that teres minor and infraspinatus to rotate that shoulder girdle, but it really does help to target those mid-back muscles. All right, now, from here, we're going to keep the hands lifted and see if we can lift the spine a little bit more so that we can get the elbows airborne. Now, I know this is pretty specific and pretty tedious, but I feel like people miss working their mid back so easily that I've developed this really specific technique to try to get people to target their mid back and really not use our neck to lift, if you're doing that instead of lifting with your mid back.

Keeping the elbows lower than the hands will keep the neck relaxed. Pull the arm pits down a little bit more towards your pelvis and notice how that relaxes the neck as well. Okay, from here, now, you could add water bottles in your hands, we'll do that next week. All right, hands under your shoulders, press the elbows toward the feet. And then, we're going to lift up.

Keep the lowest ribs on your pillow, lifting up as far as you can without the lowest ribs coming off the pillow. Once you get to the top of the motion and it's like, oh, I can't go any further, I'm going to pull the mat back. So I pull the mat back, think of pulling my chest through the frame of my arms, elbows pulled back and down, collarbones open, and now I really feel those muscles in the mid back, I mean, the low back, low thoracic spine working. Now, make sure you don't feel your low back too much. You will feel muscles working in your low back, but you're targeting the mid to lower thoracic.

All right, now, hands lifted. Gotta lift your hands off the mat if you really want to work your back. And then we're going to lift up and lower, keeping the hands off the mat. Pull those elbows toward the feet and lift. Keep the pubic bone down.

Your glutes actually need to be contracted to pull your sacrum down away from L5. If you keep your glutes relaxed with this, your sacrum is just going to be free to slide up into L5 and you'll feel usually discomfort in your low back. So feel free to squeeze those glutes at this point. I don't usually say squeeze the glutes, but in this one you need to. All right, now, from here, we're going to do the traditional double leg kick.

So stretch the hands toward the feet, lift up, let those collarbones open. Get the elbows straight. See if you can get your palms together and reach toward your feet. Now, we won't do the kicks yet until we really get the upper body doing what we want it to do, and make sure the low back feels good with that. One more time.

Lift up, hold here, bend the knees, heels kick, two and three, and then take it down. Turn your head to one side. Bend the elbows, palms up and let your shoulders go into internal rotation. And then take it up. I just like to take it slow at first to try to really milk the range of motion and to really get your body working.

Now, I'm going to have you bend your knees while you're up. Can you do that without paining your back? And then coming back down. All right, now we'll do the traditional version. Heels, pull two, three, and lift, eyes forward, right at the end of your mat.

Turn your head, one, two, three, and lift. And one, two, three, and lift. So notice I've changed the hand position from here, which is really hard, you cannot get this shoulder to go into external rotation, you can't get your collar runs open as much. So I change it to palm-to-palm, and then wow, feel those shoulders really open up. And so you can do it either way, but if you really want the collar bones to open and thoracic extension to happen, you need to have your hands in this position.

All right, now, place the hands under the shoulders. And we're going to push up from our knees, right? So first shoulders down, elbows toward the feet, lift the face, lift the low belly, press a little bit into your pubic bone and then press up. So then, your triceps are doing most of the work. So your choice.

I want you to do five really good pushups from either your knees or from your feet. Here we go. One, two, three, four, and five. All right, and hinge back, stretch and lengthen. Mm.

And then take it down to all fours, and then come to sitting on your pillow or your towel rolls. Okay. So everything we just did is to support our body in the vertical alignment. So right, everything we did on the mat should be embodied in our vertical posture. So that's in standing, which we worked on at the beginning of class, but it's also in sitting.

You need enough hip mobility to be able to sit with a vertical spine. So I'm gonna give you some little tidbits about posture, and hopefully you can apply these in your practice immediately. So to have your self lifted up a little bit is helpful if you don't have good hip mobility. So I'm definitely not one that has, like, a super big turnout. I do really well in parallel.

I don't have a whole lot of turnout in my hips. And I always say that turnout is a gift. It's not something that you can force your body to do because you'll end up hurting your knee, which is what I did to try to get my hips to turn out more. So when you get into your sitting posture, the way you know that you're in the right alignment is by feeling your back muscles. If your back muscles, your lumbar paraspinals, just the ones that you can feel, not your core muscles, not your multifidus, but really your back muscles, your paraspinals, if your pelvis is in neutral and your rib cage is properly positioned over the pelvis, your back muscles will be relaxed.

So when you're in the right alignment, likely you're correct, if your back muscles are relaxed. So there's always reasons that they're not. If you have pain, muscle strain, disc bulge, some other types of sacroiliac dysfunction, there's all kinds of reasons for back pain and for tension in your back muscles that's compensating or compensatory contraction in your back muscles if you have some underlying pathology. So that being said, if you don't have that, then to get yourself into the right alignment, you use your back muscles as a barometer. So I want you to send your hips back and kind of slump.

And you feel that the back muscles release a little bit, but there's still some tension there. So there's a long rope that kind of stretches out and then slowly bring your pelvis to a vertical position, and then keep going until your tailbone really reaches back and see that the back muscles will really grip here. You'll feel those two little ropes. If you feel close to your spine, you'll feel those erector spinae kick in. And then, so take it back out of that just a little bit and just go very carefully forward and backward.

And then if you just can't find a position that you need to be in to get those muscles to relax, you need to be up higher, probably. So you need to sit on a yoga block or something a little bit taller. And then, now the next frontier is to take the ribcage, it should be placed over the pelvis, like a lid on a jar. So a lot of us in Pilates, especially, we stand with our ribs out and we stand tall, and we hold our shoulders down like our mother told us to do. And that really makes your back grip.

And it's like, oh my back's so stiff and sore. I don't know why, I've been working on my posture. And that's sometimes the reason. Now, we don't want to be here, either. So I think of the rib cage like a bell swinging forward and backward, and then finding that bell just perfectly centered over the rib cage.

So for me, it's right there. And then my back muscles are relaxed. All right. Now the next frontier is to work the head. So when the head is forward, you're going to notice that your back muscles kick in. So see how far your head has to go.

There's mine right there. And then I feel my back muscles start to contract. And then other thing that happens is my abdominals shut down with my head is forward. So I really feel like people have weak abdominals because their head is forward. And so if we can work on getting the head back into alignment, pulling back through the throat, the back top of the head, or the crown of the head reaches up, and then feel how that engages your abdominals.

And then here's my neutral posture. I'm going to check in with my stick. And when you're in sitting, your back is always going to be a little bit flatter in the lumbar curve. And then there's my neutral posture. So I'm still in my good alignment.

I have one finger flatter in sitting than in standing. And that means I have to work a little bit harder in my hip flexors to sit up tall, and then being there. Okay, so now that you've got your alignment, hopefully you've got a comfortable place to be and you can sit like this, if that feels better. This is always easier for me to sit like this. And I can be here for a long period of time.

As long as I have something elevating me off my feet, so that my feet don't go to sleep, then that usually feels a lot better. All right. So from here, lengthening the spine, close your eyes. Allow your breathing to change from more of a costal breath, that working breath, that three-dimensional rib cage breath, to a low belly breath. And can you get that diaphragm to really descend, allow the belly to expand without losing the length in your spine?

Can you release your shoulders just a little bit, allow them to soften? I want you to keep the idea of a tent so that your spine is like the pole of a tent being strong, stable, and vertical. And the fabric is billowing around you. Think about that strong center axis. And then, the shoulders are softening, slowing down and deepening the breath.

I want you to feel something in your body to be grateful for. What did you learn about your body today that can help you strengthen support it, heal it? Maybe write something down on a sticky note, as a reminder, put it on your bathroom mirror, put it in your car. Not that you ever go anywhere. So maybe want to put it somewhere in your home. (laughs) And then let's wrap ourselves in a blanket of peace.

Let's wrap the planet in a blanket of peace. Let's repeat in our minds, I am happy, I am well, I am strong. All my friends and family are happy, and well, and strong. And let's visualize everyone on the planet being happy, and well, and strong. You want those positive thoughts of healing for yourself and for the planet.

Bring your awareness back to the room, letting the light return to your eyes with a renewed sense of vitality, and joy in movement, and hope for the future and that you can build strength, and mobility, balance, improve your posture at any age. Thank you for joining me.


1 person likes this.
Another masterful combination of exercise and information by S.B. Thank you.
Christine T
1 person likes this.
Thank you Sherri, even though these are a challenge for me I can feel my body getting stronger which is exactly what I need!
 Thank you, you are a good theacher and I would like to do exercises with you. Bye bye from SICILY 🇮🇹
1 person likes this.
Thank you Sherri, what a wonderful and challenging class, so grateful to be able to connect with such talented teachers from the other side of the world. It was lovely at the end of class to acknowledge and give thanks to our body, it's something we don't always do. xx
1 person likes this.
I loved this workout and that you didn’t shy away from rotation (table top knee sways). I’ve  been really dialing rotation back and maybe it’s not so necessary with osteoporosis? 
1 person likes this.
Thank you! As a life long athlete with some challenging injuries this workout felt challenging and safe! The cueing helped me clean up some sloppy posture habits I had gotten into with some of my Pilates 
I think a lot of “strong” people would be challenged by this - ok I have a question though -... what about that abdominal work trying to pull the dog leash out from under your low back you are working in imprint - isn’t that a no no for contemporary teachers? Would you teach that to someone who is already kinda posteriorly tilted? Thanks 
3 people like this.
Thanks for this wonderful class which is safe for osteoporosis yet still extremely challenging. So excited to see another class with Sherri. We are so fortunate to have this caliber teacher share her knowledge so generously!
1 person likes this.
For those clients with a large thoracic curvature, what do you suggest with the broomstick as it won't make the 3 points of contact.  Thanks!
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