Class #932

Chest Opening Cadillac

35 min - Class


This one is for you Darrell (and anyone else who wants to open their chest and stretch out their backs)! Using dynamic but controlled arm and leg movements, you'll mobilize your spine and feel more flexible by the end of this 33-minute class. Karen chooses to use the Baby Arc and a Reformer Box on the Cadillac to facilitate the exercises. It's also possible you may need a small towel or pillow handy for additional support on certain exercises. Karen brings her expertise as a Physical therapist and Pilates instructor together in this effective and fun class.
What You'll Need: Cadillac, Baby Arc, Towel, Reformer Box

About This Video


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This workout today utilizing the Cadillac is in honor of a client of mine named Darrell. Darrell would come into class often times asking for his chest to be open and for his back to be stretched. But the way that he always wanted to stretch his back was just by kind of rounding forward. So you're going to notice in this workout that I actually do very, very little rounding forward and we're going to choose to stretch the chest and stretch the back by using some dynamic movements. You'll find with this workout that with controlled arm and leg movements that they will help to mobilize the spine a little bit better so that a person can be, can feel flexible within their own range of motion. For this workout, you'll need this small half barrel.

You could also use a small ball if you want underneath the chest. But I actually prefer the small arch barrel and you may need to tell to support the head. You'll notice that I have arms springs and leg springs. I have handles and I have this, the traditional, uh, leg straps that go on the legs, springs. So we'll start this exercise sitting like so lying down over this barrel to kind of facilitate the chest to open and you'll notice here I need to put this little towel or pad or something just kind of right underneath my head here so that I maintain this neutral spine relatively in my pelvis. I'm not arching my low back.

What I'm wanting this barrel to do is to facilitate my chest to open passively just because the position it's in. We're going to start with the arms and a little PNF pattern. The thumbs will face down and the arms will cross over the chest. This is internal rotation of the shoulders. The exercises like this. Inhale externally rotate the shoulders as the arms come out like I'm hitchhiking, my thumbs, the shoulders internally rotate, they go down.

I'll do that five times using my breath. Inhale the arms up, exhale the arms down, maintaining all my other key connections. My inner thighs are gently squeezing. My abdomen is pulled up and in and my pelvic floor is slightly engaged. I'll do one more. Inhale, arms up, stretch the chest, exhale, arms come down. What that does. Again, it just works to open up the chest by facilitating external rotation in the shoulders. We'll continue this with the spring with the arm springs, so you'll notice with the arm springs here in the handles, the the height of this may change depending on the, the height of the client's arms. I'm going to meet, maintain this, this towel here, and I'm going to add the arms to this action now with a little bit of spring, so again, my thumbs are facing up. I'm going to pull out and then come down, keep tension in the springs back and then they return. I'm pulling with my upper arms and I'm not squeezing the daylights out of my wrists. I'm going to do this three more times. Inhale, resist it back yet. Inhale and resist it back in using the back of the arms, back of the shoulders, and now last time and resisted in on.

Now we'll cross my left arm to take the right spring and I'll make this range of motion a little bit bigger. Inhale up and back. Exhale, resist. Reluctantly. Let the arm come back down. You'll notice the thumb is facing down. Inhale, the arm comes up, the thumb turns up by x eternally rotate my shoulder and then I resist it coming down. This is a little bit harder than it seems really isolating the proximal work in the shoulder area and by proximal I mean really close to the center of that shoulder. We'll do this two more times up and then down. And then last time up and last time down, I need to come and change my springs again, grabbing the other arm so I can get it in that cross diagonally pattern.

And then inhale, extremely rotate the shoulder. I think it's obvious here that I'm right handed one time and down. Inhale and exhale two more times. Inhale, the arm comes up, exhale down. Last time up and last time down. And you remember that any time you use one arm or one leg in a spring, it actually puts a little rotation force on the spine.

So after I do that, I'm actually going to take the towel down and let the spring go. And you'll see actually that now my head can actually go back without a lot of stress. So in this position I've kind of opened the chest, I'm over the barrel and I'll repeat this pattern one more time. It should be a little bit freer. X, hey, inhale. And then exhale, external rotation of the shoulders, open, chest, internal rotation of the shoulders. Exhale two more times. Inhale and then exhale.

And then last time inhale and last time coming down, remembering that the focus here is to open the chest and not overarched the lumbar area. So we'll come up off of this. We'll take the barrel away. Okay. And now we'll set up the push through bar. Well, continue now sideways and I call it side bend.

Push through with the push through bar. It's a little bit different here though, so I'm just going to hold the push through bar down and recognize that as I just pressed the bar down, I'm trying to maintain the stability and the alignment of my trunk. So I'm going to keep doing this and I'm actually gonna add my opposite arm so it looks like this reach and down reach and down total of five. Heres three same connections in my thighs, same connections through my lower core last time up and hold in. Pause. Take an inhale. As I exhale I side bend my body over and then I bring myself back up, side bending over. Now I stay here.

As I returned to vertical, I press down with the push through arm to resist it coming up. One more time. Side Bend over, and now I'm adding the pumping here. Bend and press each time I'm trying to get deeper into my lateral flection by using my arms to help stretch and lengthen my ribs. We'll do this two more and last time Preston hold. Take an inhale. As you exhale, the right arm presses down, you're return yourself to vertical. Arm comes down, elbow bends resisting the force of the bar.

Side Bend, push through other side. Okay, I pressed the bar down. I maintain that and hold that staying long and tall through my vertical axis of the spine. I just bend and straighten it a couple times. Feeling the force come through my spine where I kind of want a side bend but I'm not going to let it. Now I add the arm, I press and rebend and progress and bend and reach down with the left and up with the right and Ben. One more time. Hold here. Big Inhale, lengthen spine. Exhale, side bend, spined over and Paul Inhale, come up. Exhale, same side bending. Noticed the head is not falling to the side.

It's staying in line with the spine and come back up. Last time side bend over, hold the side bend and we add the bend and stretch again. Bend and stretch five times. Here's two and three. Notice I can go a little bit further now. Four last time.

Five press hold. Shinzen gauge down. Belly pulls in. Try to maintain coronal plane as I returned myself all the way up, all the way up, all the way up and then the arm comes down. Now from here we're going to use the same concept of the force of the push through bar. And I'm going to take out this box because for some people that are really tight in their hips, whenever they sit flat on the Cadillac, they kind of get frustrated in their hips. So before that even happens, I'm going to go ahead and just put them up there on the box. So I'm going to have a seat up here on the box and I'm going to sit up nice and tall, press the bar down and I'm going to recognize that just by pressing the bar down, I get this nice connection and this nice closing of my core in the front of the body.

Okay, so I'm not going to be in a hurry here to round forward and push through. I'm just going to use this to engage through my trunk and I'm going to take the left arm out to the side and do the same thing a little bit more. So now I feel the force in my abdomen as I bend and straighten my right arm, left arm comes down, right arm comes out and continue. I don't have to push that bar all the way through in order to get the connections in my trunk. It happens because my spine is vertical, my pelvis is in neutral and I'm pressing down. If somebody were really tall and their legs were too high, you can of course come to the edge of the box.

You could press the legs forward and the legs would come down. We could do the same thing here. We can make a bigger range of motion, but again, I'm not going to round forward because that's the position of choice that sometimes these clients like when they want to stretch. So from here now I'm going to go ahead and use the up phase of push through, opening up the armpits, engaging back behind the shoulder blades to keep them in place as I hinge forward and I'm going to hold right here and you'll notice here that I'm not hyperextending my lumbar spine. I'm making a nice lengthening through my armpits here and then I'm going to come down and up. So there's not spring tension here, but again, it's just dynamic movement to facilitate some flexibility. I'll do this three more times, two more and last time I'm gonna hold this bar up here.

Now take my left arm away and ask for a little bit of trunk rotation. Trying to be mindful that I'm on both buttocks bones as I rotate and then bring myself back to center. I lengthen up and I twist and I rotate. Trying not to overarch my back in this position. My left arm is pressing into the push through bar as I twist my trunk and a bit more. And then one more time. Again, we're using side bending and rotation to facilitate lots of mobility in the spine. And I'll do this one more time to the right and then come back to center.

Going to take this push through down now and I'm going to use this same sitting position here to facilitate a little bit of spinal rotation. So I'm going to start to twist my trunk, monitoring my lumbar curve. Taking my hand to this pole if it can reach and my other hand behind the box pressing in to the box with my left hand pressing into the pole with my right hand and twist. Now notice here I'm actually going to turn my head to the right as I twist my trunk to the left and then I'm going to let my head go and see how far. Now it can turn so the head didn't lead the movement. The trunk led the movement.

Other side regroup. Re lengthen and twist the trunk leading the movement. My left arm reaching for that pole, right arm pressing into the box and rotating and rotate and rotate. As I hold the rotation to the right, I turned my head back to the left and then I turn my trunk any bit more and then I allow my head to turn to the right. Looking over my right shoulder, twisting the spine, pulling the belly in and bringing myself all the way back to center.

Climbing off the box. Now we've opened the chest, we've opened the arms, and now I'd like to do a couple of things to open up the hips because in opening the hips we indirectly effect the mobility of the back. So in this next exercise, I'm going to lie prone on the Cadillac and bend my right knee. I'm going to lie my pelvis down and lie my hip crease down of my left leg. As I rest my head down, I'm going to kind of think of the exercise single leg kick on the mat. And I'm going to do that with this left leg.

I'm gonna kick it and kick it and kick it. So from here I'm monitoring that my hip crease on the left leg is not doing this. I don't want it to do that. So I'm going to really link than long through that left leg. Gonna Monitor my lumbar spine so it doesn't get all cranky and I'm going to go again, kick and kick and kick and inhale two and exhale two. One more. Set in and out.

Now I'm going to advance this propping myself up on my right forearm. You're going to think of the exercise swan, lengthening my chest out, long reach behind me with my nice open arms that I created. Flex this left foot and that leg away as I'm doing part of a arch supported by my thigh. Inhale, lengthen. Exhale. One more time. Notice my head isn't just Jane Yanking back. Notice that my head just isn't pulling all the way back on letting my chest lengthen out law. And then I'm going to lie myself all the way down.

Come on up and switch sides. So the purpose of stretching out the front of the fine like this is it kind of prepares us for kneeling because sometimes when we kneel and do exercises and the front of the hips are tight, it's a little bit harder. So the first part of this exercise, I'm gonna drop my head down. This leg position may vary. Again, depending on how tall you are. As I bend my right knee, I'm going to think of the exercise single leg kick.

So it's my hamstring and my buttocks. Inhale for two and exhale for two. Working hard to keep the anterior thigh crease down on that right leg. I'm gonna arch my chest up so port with my elbow. Pause for a second here and recognize that this spinal extension has to actually come all the way by lengthening the abdomen lengthening in front of the belly button. As I reach the crown of my head up, I bring my chest forward, I reach behind me with my nice open armpit.

Flex that right foot and press it away. And notice when I press it away, I actually lift up a little bit higher and then I'm going to lower myself all the way down and come back up. And now that my legs are nice and open, I can do some kneeling work on the Cadillac. So I'm going to take these arms springs now, raise them up. Okay, turn around and face away. Grab the handles, make that feel.

Actually I don't let the handles go for a second and I'm going to make this nice connection all the way through these thighs, pulling up the tummy as I keep my shoulders back and my belly. And so I'm gonna maintain this now. Right now I'm very engaged in the back side of my body to help keep the front side lengthen. So now I'm going to take these arms springs and take them up over my head and I'm going to treat the arms springs like a little leg series. So I'm going to reach and reach and reach and reach.

Inhale and exhale. Breathe in for to blow out for two and then pause right there. I'm going to start to make circles and with each I'm going to come a little bit lower and a little bit lower and a little bit lower and I'm going to reverse the circle as I come a little bit higher and a little bit higher. My Shins are pressing, my inner thighs are working, my core is connected. One more time up here and we'll do it one more time a little bit quicker.

So inhale and exhale and inhale and exhale and lower down. The next exercise size we'll do here is we're going to take this arm spring, lower it down, and actually I think it's best if this bar right here is about shoulder height. So I'm going to kind of raise this up just a little bit. So this is another rotation exercise. I call this, started this exercise drive a school bus because I want you to pretend that you have to be far enough away to get tension. Little tricky. At first you got to kind of figure out what kind of tension you need.

And of course if somebody was really strong, they could use the legs springs in lieu of the arms springs. So with this exercise right here, again, I call it drive the school bus. Like you'd have a big old school steering wheel right here, and we're going to press that school bus, keeping the elbows high and rotate and then resist the return. Inhale facilitates that rotation. Exhale, we bring it all the way back. That's two. Let's do five inhale and exhale return.

Here's the fourth one, exhale, return. And here's the fifth one. You're going to drive that school bus to the right and hold it there. With that left hand, take your right arm out, palm up, turn, turn some more, twist it, twist, rotate, and then bring the arm back and then hurry, turn and pause right there. Now we'll do hug a tree. I'm going to move further to the right little tension here, so now I'm going to put a rotation force on my body just by pulling the left arm so it's inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale five times. This is the third one. Belly comes in. Shoulders stay down.

Inhale and exhale. Last time, inhale, hold, hold. Belly pulls in. Five creases. Stay long and then release all the way. We'll turn around and face the other direction. Now driving the school bus to arms out in front. The right arm is the one that predominantly connected. Now inhale, pause, get all connected, and here we go. Inhale, inhale, inhale, exhale, reluctantly. Let it come back. We'll do five twisting the trunk, twisting the twisting the trunk. Exhale, come back.

Here is the third one. Elbows kind of high. Don't let them droop down and return yourself. Attract the inner thighs, pull the pelvic floor up to support that core from the bottom and we've got two more. Inhale and then exhale last time. Hey Alan, hold right here and then open that left arm palm up.

Remember the palm up facilitates shoulder external rotation, which indirectly helps you to open the chest and then bring that all the way back and release down. Move to the left just a little bit. Hug a tree holding right here. Big Inhale prepares you. Exhale, hug, inhale, open, exhale, hug. I am not moving my shoulder blades right now. I'm not doing protraction for this particular version of hug a tree, although you could. And another version.

Right now we're keeping the shoulder blades calm and we're just opening and closing the hugging of the arms two more times. Inhale, open. Exhale, hug. Last time open last time. Close and pause right there and then release the arms down. So we've faced the front with the arms springs, we face the side and now we face the back, or at least we were on the reformer. This would be the back, but we're just facing the tower end.

Here are the open-end, excuse me. So with your body up long and tall, this one's going to change up. We're going to take our palms and we're going to turn them facing in front. So we're going to lead this motion with the palms facing in front of us. So I'm going to pull back remembering that I'm thinking external rotation of my arm bone, my humerus bone, so I can facilitate the chest to open. Notice that I'm not hyperextending my low back as I work through my upper back.

Now this exercise will build and it looks like this. Three low, one, two, three, three, medium. One, two, three, three, high woo. Two, three, three, middle one, two, three, three, low, two, three. One more set. Come on. One, two, three, and middle. One, two, three, and high. One, two, three. And relax down. Not An easy exercise. Now take your right hand, cross it over. Okay. Now we're going to take that spring, the opposite side, and we're going to pull it out and back. So it's very similar to how we started. I'm going to monitor the position of my pellets because right now I don't want to twist to start with.

I want to recognize that I'm going to pull my arm without, for these first couple. So I'm going to recognize again that I'm pulling my arm resisting the twist. Then I'm going to go ahead and allow the twist, so I'm going to pull and then allow the twist and then return pull. Oh Lao, the twist, and then return. One more time. Pull.

Allow the twist and then return and pause right there. Switch hands. So we're again, we're doing the crossover now with the left hand reaching across to the right spring. Lengthen up through the torso, pulling the belly in. Again, my chest is actually opening. Little by little, I feel my arms going back without just falling into my back like that. That's a little accident waiting to happen. So he pull the belly in, collarbone, stay broad. And here we go. Pulling low without moving the pelvis. Pull, pull and pull a couple more times. Recognizing that we're not moving the pelvis, we're not rotating, we're resisting the rotation. Working the back of the arm to open the front of the chest.

Now I pull and now I ask for the rotation and then I reach her. I pull, I ask for the rotation, and then I returned. Last time I pull, I asked for the rotation, I twist, twist, twist any bit more, and I keep connected through lower part of my body as I return and bring myself all the way back with the chest nice and open. They're willing to lie down and switch to the leg portion. So as we work on some mobility now from the bottom up, we're going to use the hips to help teach the spine how to get mobile from the bottom up. Because if you remember at the beginning of the workout, we didn't want to round this particular body forward just to let them fall into that stretch. So I've got a pretty high leg spring coming from the front, so I'm going to lengthen myself out my belly and my bottom leg is Ford for a little bit of support in my right hand, behaving like a kickstand, if you will.

I'm just going to kick forward and kick back. Kick forward. My leg is relatively parallel right here, forward and back again. I'm using hip strength, mobility in the front of the hip, working in the back of the hip to more forward and back. Last time forward. Last time back. I call this next exercise bend and stretch. So I'm gonna Bend my thigh in and then stretch the leg away.

Inhale, and then exhale. Lengthen out three more times. Inhale, exhale, lengthen. Two more times in. Press through that leg and last time in and last time away. Hold right there. Circle this leg within the mobility that you can tolerate so that you don't feel like you're over arching your back. My bottom leg incidentally is pressing down to the mat like mad. One more time like this, and then reverse five and four and three and two and one and pause.

Little tricky transition here. I'm going to keep the spring on my leg and roll to my back. I'm going to move to my right farthest away from this leg spring that I can and I'm going to use this leg spring to push 'em. Excuse me. I'm going to use my leg to push the legs spring over to get me some mobility through that right hip. You'll notice my left leg is long and pressing down. I'm going to take this leg all the way down and all the way out to the side with control.

Take that leg all the way down and cross it all the way over because my leg reaches over and pressing in the spring. It invites my pelvis to lift and start to twist my spine and then I bring it down. I roll back, I stay nice and stable. I take the leg out again. I bring the leg down and across. I don't move my spine to let my leg go further. I let my leg push this spring to invite my spine to twist like it's ringing out a washcloth and then I bring it all the way down.

Then I work a little bit of hip mobility here, so I bend it in, bend it in because I'm farther away from this leg spring. I'm getting a little more mobility here and then I'm going to press it all the way across. And then the last time over here, I'm gonna bend this knee in over here to help me try to curl my bottom without rounding my chest that I've worked so hard to open up three more, two more and last time and bring the leg in and take the spring away. Switching sides again, the spring from the front, pressing the leg down and out. The bottom leg is forward for a little bit of support, lengthening all the way out here, front and back, front and length in the front as I work in the back and then lengthen the back as I resist the front. Working in relatively parallel here.

We'll do three more of these forward and back two and back and last time and back. And now I switched to bend and press as I bend this knee. And you'll notice I'm going to go into a little posterior tilt on purpose and then press away because remember we're from the bottom up, so I'm using hip flection in this instance to help me stretch that lower back and we'll do three more of these. That feels really good. Two more. And then the last one, press away, circle two more. And then last one and then rolling to your back. Staying far away from that Spring, I reached the leg over. I'm pressing this spring with my leg.

As I press the right leg long. I'm going to press this leg down and bring it out and then straight leg down across. And then let it reluctantly peel up and then press it down. Take it out. Nice neutral spine here and then down and across, all the way over with a straight leg, reaching long and then bring it out last time.

Now I'm going to keep it over here and I'm going to bend. And stretch, bend and stretch. So it's a controlling of the spring in, but it's a little bit quicker asking for x turtle rotation of the thigh. Two more here and last time taken that spring. Now over, we're hitting the home stretch here, a nice open chest, nice stretched back over here. And then bend the knee and dynamically over here looking for that, reaching across the pelvis as I stretched that lowest part of my back. Three more, two more.

And then last one and take the leg out of there. So now with the chest open and the back flexibility a little bit better. I like to end this workout in standing with little standing awareness. And I call this kind of like a reverse spread eagle. So I'm gonna take my hands on the bar here, pull my tummy in, lengthen out through my chest, not going to hyperextend my low back. So I'm gonna let my shoulders open.

You'll notice here that my foams are facing down and I'm going to instruct you to kind of push your pinky into the tower, which gives you a little bit of extra rotation moment if you will, on your shoulders. So I'm going to open the chest externally, rotate the shoulders. My pinkies are pressing into the bar, my thumbs are facing downward. Take an inhale here as I exhale, the head nods, B bend, knees, belly scoops. I'm rounding that lowest spine. I'm keeping chest open because my shoulders are open. I'm continued to bend my knees, trying to stretch my lower back any bit more. And then I bring myself up and open up my chest.

So I am resisting rounding in my upper back, chest open knees. Ben Curl is hold right here. Now this is a good one. I'm gonna pull my knee to my chest as I work to stretch my low back that keep my upper back open. And then Dow, I bend my other knee in to stretch my low back but keep my upper chest open. And then one more time, right knee in bend that left knee.

So I'm curling down below, but not up above. And then last one, staying tall, up above, curling down below, and there you have it. Big Inhale. Lengthen the chest. Big exhale. Return yourself to vertical. Hope you enjoyed that workout.


4 people like this.
Just the workout I'm looking for today, and from my favorite PA instructor! Thanks, Karen, for this nice series with all your great cues!
Fantastic work for so many folks who need just that- including myself! Thank you, Karen.
1 person likes this.
My body thanks you for this wonderful class, and so do I. Loved it and will definitely do it again.
1 person likes this.
Thank you Karen! Great class!
1 person likes this.
Thank you so much!! This is fantastic-- especially loved the PNF-- thank you!!
Karen Sanzo
Gosh. Posted such a short time. Thank you all for joining me in this caddy workout. I actually did it myself, yesterday!! Comments always inspire more creations. Thanks for the taking the time.
1 person likes this.
This is going to be a great workout for my tennis playing clients who are very rounded forward. Thanks!
4 people like this.
Great class. Karen you are such an intelligent, down to earth teacher, your classes are always a pleasure to watch, do, and learn from. Thank you.
2 people like this.
Great class Karen! Loved the cues.
3 people like this.
Karen, you are a star. Wonderful cues, so clear and full of imagery. I always learn so much from you.
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