Class #983

Mat for Back Pain

60 min - Class


Whether you have back pain or not, your spine will feel amazing after Brent's Mat class. The imagery he uses in his cues will give you freedom in your spine to allow you more control during the exercises. Brent's class will have you singing (literally) while doing the Roll Up and the Spine Stretch.
What You'll Need: Mat

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Hello my name is Dr. Brent Anderson, and we're going to enjoy a little mat class to help our low backs, to loosen them up, to free them up of contractions. And we're going to pay special attention to the cueing today. So I'm going to do minimal tactile cueing. I'm going to try to use just words and images to be able to get the desired outcome of the movement. But I will use a little bit of tactile if we need to.

But the idea is when you're teaching a class, really instead of demonstrating the class, you really need to be in what everybody's doing instead of looking. So we'll try to use some good cueing for that. So let's do start on your backs today. I'm going to start you with your knees bent, and we're just going to start with a little bit of awareness of what's going on in our pelvis in relation to our spine. So feel the feet gently planted into the mat.

Your knees are bent. Make sure the knees are over the feet. Feel the back of the neck getting long, and gravity is going to be our friend here. So gravity is going to lengthen the spine. So feel free to adjust your bodies and the length in the back of the neck to feel the low back lengthen a little bit.

In every breath, as you exhale, feel as if you're becoming a little bit heavier into the mat, a little bit longer in the spine. So again, two more breaths adjusting the back of the neck, adjusting the pelvis, feeling that ribcage softened down into the mat. The next thing I want you to focus on is the smile across the front of your shoulders or the front of the chest. So feel like the shoulders themselves are the tip of the smile. We're just going to allow them to drop down and widen across the front.

And again, the key word is allowing. The back the neck lengthened as if the crown is being pulled away from the sit bones. Now, the pelvis is like that bowl of soup, a very nice, good-textured soup. The tip of the bowl is going to be the-- mat is supposed to be the belly button, the pubic bone, top to bottom, and side to side would be the anterior-superior iliac crest of the pelvis. Everybody put their hands on top of their bowl.

Do you have that idea? Now, I want you to think the sacrum is the bottom and the round part of the bowl. So just sort of check and see how your hands parallel to the floor. Are they tilted towards your shoulders or tilted towards your feet? You find that position?

And then bring your hands back down. Assuming that bowl is filled with soup, gently tilt the bowl towards your feet, and tilt the bowl back towards your shoulders, so an anterior and posterior tilt. That bowl is about half full of the soup, or the bisque, and moving it anterior-posterior, just gentle movement forward and back. Now, something I want you to be aware of as you do this is the connectivity all the way through the spine. So as that pelvis moves anteriorly, it's going to bring the lumbar spine up off the ground.

So notice that, and be aware of it. And it's going to move all the way up into the head and into the neck. So as you move that pelvis, you're going to feel the jaw move, the head move and it moves back, the jaw comes up. As it moves anteriorly, the jaw gets pulled down a little bit. And see if you can create that communication.

It's almost like all the vertebrae are communicating to each other, introducing themselves. Hey L4, how you doing today. Great, L3. Feeling good. All Right?

And they're just going to talk all the way up the spine. One of the problems we have in mechanical low back pain, is that all the muscles are holding too much. So the last thing we want to do is use cueing that talks about muscles unless we're telling them to let go. So let's do two more of those nice and easy. Feel again the shoulder smiling a little bit wider, the back of the neck getting a little bit longer, the head responding to the pelvis.

Very, very important that we feel that connection all the way through the spine. Good. Now, let the pelvis relax. Still a bowl of soup, tilting the bowl of soup to the right and to the left. And that tilt to the right and the left is independent of the legs.

So what I mean by that is, your knees still pretend that they're actually suspended to the ceiling with an elastic band, and your pelvis is moving around to the femurs. Can you feel that? moving around the femurs. That's it. Tilting side to side.

Now, just imagine the soup coming to the lip of the bowl side to side, and pay attention to how far up that rotation communicates in your spine. Does it make it all the way up into your chest? Does it make it all the up into your neck? Sometimes you can even feel it in your eyes. You feel that rotation.

It's almost like the eyes want to go the opposite direction that your pelvis goes. That's a natural reaction for creating our balance as if we were moving through space or trying to keep our balance. And relax. Let's combine those two movements now going into a diagonal. So if your pelvis was a clock, we call this the pelvis clock from Feldenkrais.

All right? The belly button would be 12:00. The pubic bone is 6:00. We're going to take that pelvis down towards the right foot. So it's an anterior right rotation as if we're going towards 7 o'clock.

Then we're going to tilt it back towards the left shoulder as if we're going towards 1 o'clock. And let's just go with that, and try to get that as fluid and easy as you can, tilting that into anterior and posterior. That's it. That's right. There you go.

And again, noticing how much higher that motion goes-- that's it-- as you allow that movement to happen. That's right. Good. And let's switch diagonals. So we're going to go now to the left hip, which would be going to 5 o'clock and to 11 o'clock.

Nice and easy. And you feel that diagonal. First it might seem a little awkward. You might even find one side that moves a little easier than the other. This is normal, walking dynamics.

So we don't think about it when we're on our feet, but that's exactly the diagonal that takes place in our pelvis. It just feels weird to do it laying on your backs. Free it up with a couple more repetitions. Feel that diagonal for that reach, for that releasing. Feel it even in the head.

The neck now should be involved because we're back in the anterior-posterior tilt, and let's finish up with some circles. So if I was stirring that soup with a big spoon and that pelvis goes around in a full circumduction moving around the femoral head, articulating up through the spine through the facets all the way up into the head. And if you really listen to pelvis, your head actually will spin in the opposite direction of your pelvis. Not something to force, it's something to allow, just allow it to start letting go of things. Just start realizing how many things you're holding on to that prevents you from segmental movement.

So back pain takes away segmental movement, takes away local stabilizers, goes into spasms of the global stabilizers. So we're going into segmental movement. Before you start doing your Pilates exercises allows a freedom inside that spine that they can then execute the movement and have the right amount of control. You go in the other direction yet? Let's spin back the other way.

And again, you'll notice one directions is a little easier than the other. I didn't tell you which direction to go. You chose a direction. So this direction probably is going to be a little more challenging than the first. Your body naturally will choose the directions that's a little bit easier for it.

And around. That's it. As a child, we had what was called a Doughboy pool, or above-ground pool, and all the neighborhood kids would come. And we would start going around outside of the pool as fast as we could in a circle until you got going so fast that we could just let go, and we just floated in the current. See if you can create the current as if I dropped a little floating wood ball in your soup.

It would just go around the perimeter of the bowl with the current of the soup. And last one. Let's go right into our bridge from here. Let's see if we're barking up the right tree. Take in a breath.

As you exhale, feel the pelvis peeling off of the floor sending the knees towards the center of the room. This will help lift you up. Take a breath up on top, and as you exhale, feel the softening of the sternum up above. So it's almost like the pelvis is sustained. The sternum is going to drop down and bringing one segment at the time, coming down through your spine.

So this one we often will talk about things like allowing the spinous processes to separate a little bit as you bring it down or that string of pearls that so often gets used in Pilates. Feel that sternum soften as you come down. Use your breath to be able to allow those ribs to move. Now, here's another cue that might help you with that. Your ribs move in the direction of your disk.

So we want to move into a little bit of flexion when we're up in our bridge to come down. So allow the ribs to move posteriorly and up tilted up towards your heart as you come down, and you'll feel that middle thoracic area open up. Can you feel that? If you feel, come on up into your bridge, and we actually send the ribs down and up underneath your heart to come down. So come on down.

Feel that motion there before the bottom comes down. So those ribs are going back and up underneath the heart. The last one, we're going to come up into our bridge and stay in our bridge, and we're going to pull out those old typewriters, lateral translation. So we're just going to pretend your bottom is on top of the skateboard or that new Orbit that's out, and you slide to the right. Slide to the left.

Come back to the center. Drop down 1 centimeter through your chest, and then slide to the right, slide to the left, and we should avoid any of the rotation. So you're just going to look segment by segment every time. Drop down another centimeter through the chest just sliding back and forth. Drop down another segment.

Slide back and forth. Drop down another segment. And you might notice that there's a part of your back where there's a restriction that's not allowing you to move through that space. So be patient. See if you can nick it and come back out if it a couple of times if you find that place that's a little restricted.

Very good. And relax. Excellent. Let the pelvis come down. Take in a deep breath.

Bring the back of your hands together so that they're like this, and rest the index finger and your thumb on your sternum. Now the, image is that you have a hammock coming from your elbows all the way through your shoulder blades up to the head. So when we draw those elbows up towards the corner of the ceiling, the whole body, the head, neck, and shoulders come up. So it's almost like there's a draw to it. So as you exhale, we're gently rolling up the upper body.

So this is the bridge from the other part of the spine and then back down. Make it just as easy as the bridge of the bottom. Send those shoulders away, the ribs come back, and up underneath your heart. Do you feel that? Sort of lifts you up a little bit easier.

Get it out of the idea of being abdominal exercise. Think of it more of a movement of the bones exercise. We merely think that when we add the head and shoulders coming up, it's abs, and yes, they work. But think of it more of movement of bones rather than muscles. Let's do two more of those, nice and easy.

Exhaling, ribs move back and up underneath our hearts has we come up. That neck should almost be relaxed. Yeah? That's right. And relax.

Now, bring the hands behind our head, and let's actually do chest lifts. We'll just do four of them. And let's do it with the same energy level you just did with the assisted one. So elbows are in our peripheral view. We exhale.

We role up the same way, ribs going back underneath. Arc the hands through space with an inhalation to grab behind the knees. And then use your arms to help you come up a little bit higher. So you can find that higher space where your neck is free. Inhale.

Bring the hands back behind the head. This is control of the abdominal. And then let ourselves back down to the mat. We'll do that three more times. And exhale rolling up.

Inhale arcing the arms. Exhale. Assist and lift just a little bit more. Inhale back behind the head, and exhale rolling down. And exhale rolling up.

Inhale arc. Lift with those hands just a little bit. Maintain that high tense back behind. So what you're doing is, you're learning to find the control of those segments in the upper back every time a little bit more. Last one.

Here we go, and up, and arc, and lift, and arc maintaining that high, nice deep breath. And roll down. Now, I want to do one more time, but I want you to think of a breathing cue on this one. When you are rolling up, I want you to feel the inhalation expanding your back. So even when you're doing the arm arc, feel that inhalation coming back here.

What's going to happen is, it's going to push you forward when you inhale posteriorly. It's going to push up towards the ceiling. It gives you a little bit of a break on the abdominal muscles, so when you exhale, you can feel that hollowing and movement. You'll find that you actually can stay up a lot longer without the fatigue of the abdominal or the neck muscles. So we're going to try it one more time with that concept.

So we're inhaling to prepare, exhale, we articulate up. Now, in that position there inhale in the back underneath the shoulder blades as you arc the arms. That's it. Good. Now, exhale and come up a little bit higher.

Using your arms, inhale again. Now filling that space behind you and then exhale roll back down. And you'll notice that that was a little bit easier. I saw less shaking on that one, so that's why I knew it worked a little bit better. Good.

What I want you to do now is, you're going to bring your knees up to 90-90 and just rest your fingers on your knee caps on each side. And just give yourself a little message in the hips and have them moving in the opposite direction. So they're going to be doing-- that's right. The circle is Good. And what I want you to imagine is the head of the femur really dropping into the floor or into that socket.

And we'll just do a few more in this direction and then a few more in the other direction. So we're just preparing all of our body parts. Very good. And you changed directions yet? Do six or seven in the opposite direction, nice, smooth circles allowing the hips to sink in.

Less muscles the better. Do you feel a little ratcheting going on? That's probably because the muscles are working too hard. Now, let the legs come back down. Feet together.

Knees together. Arms out to the side. Yeah. Good. Let your knees roll to the right, so everybody roll to the right.

Good. Now, stay there for a second. Notice where you're going to breathe. What's going to happen is, you're going to inhale into the back of your left lung, and inhale in the back of your left lung. So when you exhale, we're going to draw those left ribs down to initiate the legs coming back up into that neutral position.

That's It. And then let it go to the left. You're going to inhale on the back to the right lung. Expanding that space. Good.

Now exhale. Draw those top ribs down on the right. Just initiate the legs coming back up. Let the legs be a consequence of the organization of the body, not the initiation. Just go back and forth a couple more times, introducing the rotation into our spine.

Let your ribs initiate that movement. That's it. Very nice. Now, in this next one, we're actually going to bring the legs up to a 90-90 when you come back up into your resting position. Bend the legs up to a 90-90.

You don't need to go nearly as far unless you want to, but the same thing, side to side. So bring your knees to the right inhaling into the back of that left lung, exhaling initiating the lungs being drawn back up. You'll find it's actually a bit easier with the legs freed from the floor. Inhaling, over to the left, exhaling, legs coming back up. Now if you're ready and you want to, you can straighten your legs, same exercise, as relaxed as you can allowing the legs to come to the right with an inhale into that left lung and exhale drawing the legs back up vertical, and to the left.

Now, we'll do one more to each side with a long lever. Feel the control. You're in control of that movement. Never allow the legs to go so far that you lose that control. Very nice.

Good. Bring the knees in and down Good. Now, roll over onto your right side. Keep the knees bent. [STUDENTS TALKING] Hm?

Sure. So now, still have your right arm reaching out and out to the side like towards me, towards the wall. There we go. Good. Knees are bent, and we're just going to some book openings.

So your hands are together, and without whacking our friends in the face, you're just going to open that right arm up and open out and take the top over and out, so the leg over and out. So remember whatever we do from the bottom, we should do from the top. And just open that up. Good. And then bring it back closed.

Now, where's the initiation of that going to happen from? So inhale as we open. Inhale anterior in your chest a little bit into the right side. That's going to help open that up. Exhale.

Draw from the right side to help bring that arm back up over to the side. Does that help? And open. And close. Now, this next time, you're going to open to the left.

Leave that left arm there and gradually bring the legs over to the left side. So we're going to just switch sides. So roll the legs over, and roll over onto your left side. Adjust yourself on your mat, and now opening up to the right. So opening that right arm up to the side.

Where's the inhalation going to go? Into your left chest bringing that left chest around. Exhale, bring it back down, and inhale. That's it. And exhale, bringing it back.

Two more. Bring it back. The last one. And open. Stay open.

Bring the legs up to 90-90. Adjust yourselves on your mats to right in the center of the mat. 90-90, arms are down to your side now. We're going to roll right up into our modified 100s, so we'll bring the head and arms up. Nice position.

And here we go. Nice and easy in two, three, four, five, out two. Use the same breath technique we use for chest lift. So the inhale goes into the back and underneath the shoulder blades. The exhale comes from the anterior abdominal wall.

It will give you a little bit of a break in that exercising. Concentrate on the breath aspect more than the strength aspect. Now, for the last five if any of you want to straighten your legs out and want the challenge, by all means you can, or you can just stay right there. What we don't want to sacrifice is your breath. Last two breaths.

Here we go. And in and out. Still expanding in the back of those shoulder blades and exhale hollowing, bringing your knees into your chest, let your heads come down, and give yourselves a hug. Good. Excellent.

We're going to take our fingers behind the back of our knees and do a modified roll up. Now the spine is warmed up. We know where everything is. The key here is not to use any muscles other than maybe your fingertip muscles, your flexors. So it's a balancing game.

If the spine is articulating, as you send your feet away through an arc in space, allow the chest to articulate up as it's connected to the arms. You'll gradually roll up into a seated position. That's right beautiful. Good. Take a deep breath.

Get nice and tall in your seated position. And exhale rolling back down, the same way you came up sort of leaving your feet there for a little bit until you need to lift the feet up. Go to your leverage using as little energy as possible, thinking of that spine just articulating though spine. Let's repeat that two or three times. Articulating up.

Let gravity be your friend. All the way up, get nice and tall on the sit bones taking in a deep breath. And then exhale allowing yourself to massage the hips with the pelvis, feeling one vertebra at a time, rolling down, dropping down. Good. We got the idea.

Good. The last time, and rolling up. Good. Good. Good.

Good. Good. Come on up tall, and you're going to roll down and stay down. This time we're going to straighten those legs out. We're going to do a real roll up.

We're going to do it Kathy Grant style. We're going to sing. Gotta sing. All right. Hands over the head.

You all know the words to this song. It goes like this, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one. Everybody knows them, right? All right. So here's the key.

Focus on your voice, and your movements will be easy. If you focus on your movement, your voice and you movement will be bad. OK? That makes sense? So I really need you to project.

It can't just be my voice. So a big inhale, hands over the head. Exhale, hands start to come up over the chest. And we sing, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. Inhale.

Rolling back down, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one. Now, what part of one to eight is the hardest part to sing? Anybody know? The high octave. You can lower the octave, and we can harmonize.

What number in the progression is the hardest to sing? Four. Four, five, and six. Yeah. It's right in that area.

What part of the spine does that represent in the roll up? The mid. So it's going to be lower lung thoracic, upper lumbar. So what I want you to focus on is if you belt out four, five, and six, the movement in that part of your spine is going to become very easy. [STUDENTS TALKING] Here we go.

Arms over your head, big breath in. Arms floating up, exhaling, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. And again. Eight, seven, six, five, four, three two, one. Did you feel it?

Did it feel a little different, a little easier? Now, what happens is, your vocal cords are a diaphragm. So if you use your vocal cords wisely, they can control the amount of air coming out. For example, if you just breathe out with open throat, your air is gone instantly, and you have no control over that time period. We need about eight counts to be able to do the full articulation of the spine up.

So a lot times if you just hah, the air is gone. That's why sometimes too the pursed lip breathing with other Pilates styles, is very helpful because it actually controls-- we use our lips instead of our vocal cords-- the amount of air coming out of our lungs. And our lungs control the movement of the thoracic spine. So let's try it one time without singing, but think of controlling the air as if you were singing. So you can either do a pursed lip for the eight counts, or you can control the air as best you can.

Hah. Hard to control open throat for eight counts. But let's give it a try. Notice the difference. Arms over the head.

Inhale. Arms float up, exhaling, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. Take a deep breath in, exhale. Really accentuate the air blowing out in the middle of the range. That's the place you need that air to roll out.

And relax down. Good. Excellent everybody. Let's roll over onto your right side for a little side kick activity. Now, the sidekick activity, to me, is more important about the position of your pelvis.

So you can lay down flat on your arm if you want even, because I want you to focus on, is my left hip on top of my right hip? Can you find that position first. That typically means, especially for women, you're going to be lifting your waist off of the floor to get that position. If you let your ribs and your waist drop down in relation to the width of your pelvis, you're going to be in a tilt. All right?

So we really want to feel the hips on top of each other. Now, the next thing we're going to do is ask you just to lift your leg up as high as you can in abduction without losing that position. So you'll see a lot of people will turn their legs out and they'll lift their leg up real high, and they'll drop their butt back down. That's not the exercise. All right?

So we find that position, and that means we're not going to go as high as we think we might or should go. So we're going to left that leg up and bring it back down. And I'd much rather see a smaller range than see a poor organization with a range. So nice and easy coming up. Then also with people with low back problems, they feel much better with the idea of lifting six, seven inches off their leg.

That's something they can control and they can manage, and they're also working the stabilizers around their back with this exercise. Let's do two more of those and then bring it down on this next one up, halfway down, and let's practice our circles going forward, little tiny circles. They don't have to be big, but little circles forward, three, four, five, six, seven, and reverse that circle one, two, three, and again still thinking of that nice, round hip moving in the socket six, seven. Now, hold the leg there. dorsi flex the foot, going into sidekick.

I don't care how far it goes as long as we maintain our orientation. So stay in that nice, parallel hip. We're going to bring the leg forward with an inhalation, dorsi flex foot, exhale sweeping it back together pointing the foot, again, maintaining that relationship of the pelvis, and a little quicker. And forward, and back with me and forward and back, and forward, and back, and forward, and back. Two more times.

Forward and back. Last one and back. Stay back, take your left arm and reach it forward and opposite of your left leg, so feel that rotation. So if your leg doesn't go back as far, that hand then would reach a little bit higher. Now in this position, I want you to think of the connection between your belly button and L3, the arch of your back, and also think of the connection between your xiphoid process and T7 right between your shoulder blades.

Now, reaching those arms and legs opposite of each other, take in a deep breath, and we're all going to pretend that we're bees. Zzzzz. Connecting the landmarks, keep reaching, keep reaching. See if you can get a little more rotation in your spine as you reach, reach, reach, reach, reach. When you run out air and your belly button are connected, roll over onto your tummy.

Good. Bring your hands underneath your forehead, and in this position, it's very easy to let our shoulders creep up a little too close to our ears. So we adjust ourselves as best we can, and at the same time still feeling that connection from the buzz. Very important for us in lumbar pain management is to be able to have thoracic mobility. It's the distribution of movement that distributes the force that reduces the stress going through your low back.

So feel the pressure of your forearms into the ground. Yeah. And almost like you're sending or get a little bit of friction there, push those elbows into the ground as your head or your nose will slide forward and bring the sternum a little bit forward and up. So we're going to go in a little bit of upward. Leave the arms on the ground still, and feel that separation, so we're really reaching.

Yes. Exactly. Feel the length in the back of the neck and just that upper thoracic extension and then come back down. So I don't even want you lifting up so high that your chest comes off the ground. I almost want just that upper T1, 2, 3, 4, the top of the sternum coming forward as you press down into the floor with your arms, the head reaching long for the wall.

Feel the back of the neck lengthen. That upper thoracic opens up. And this is exactly what I want to see right there-- that's beautiful-- and to be able to feel that extension happening and back down. We're going to do one more of those. And coming up and back down.

Perfect. Now, rolling over onto your left side, we're going to continue our sidekick series laying on that arm, stacking the right hip over the left hip. And we're going to take that right leg up as high as we can without losing the position. So again, you'll need to lift your belly off of the mat a little bit from the side to keep those pelvis stacked. And up and down.

Now challenge yourself this time in your abduction. Go as high as you can and really find where is that place that I start to lose that control. Where does that take place? The other thing I look at is, can I keep the ribcage in alignment with that pelvis? Our tendency is to let that ribcage jet forward a little bit, keeping control.

Now, bring it halfway, circles going forward. And one, and two, and three, and four, and five, six, and seven, and reverse. And go one, two, three, four, five, six, side kick. Dorsi flex foot going forward, and in, and back, and dorsi flex, and point. And in and back.

Add a little pulse to it. And back, and forward, and back. Last one and back. Hold that right leg back. Take that right arm forward.

Take in that deep breath. We're going to go into the bee mode. Zzzzz. Connecting the belly button to L3 and the sternum to T7. Feel that connection.

As you run out of air, gently roll back over onto your belly going into scarecrow. So your arms are going to be out to the side on your bellies. So in scarecrow mode. Are we good there? Good.

Now, see if you can get your elbows so if there was a line going across your shoulders right out through your elbow. So there is this beautiful 90-90 angle again that we're at there. What I want you to do is just to feel the spin inside your shoulder. So you're going to fulcrum through the elbow just like the hands come up elbow into the floor. That's just a rotation in your shoulder and then back down.

Again, just lifting the hand and forearm up and back down. And think of the relationship between the shoulder blade and the arm. The arm spins back. The shoulder blade is going to have to relatively spin forward a little bit to allow that to happen. That will give you a little more range.

Exactly. Good. One more time. And now we're going to add the elbows to it. So we're going to bring our hands up, lift the elbows up towards the ceiling, bring the elbows back down, bring the hands back down.

That's the progression. Hands up, elbows up, elbows down, hands down. One more time. Hands up, elbows up, elbows down, hands down. Adding the head and the chest this time, hands up, elbows up, head and chest up like the first exercise we did only that high.

Head and chest back down, elbows down, hands down. Good. Let's do two more of those. Hands up, elbows up, head and shoulders come up, head and shoulders come down, elbows come down, hands come down. Last one.

Hands come up, elbows come up, head and sternum come up. Good. Head and sternum come down, elbows down, hands down, and relax. Good. Bring your hands right into the push up position for swan.

We're going to do pre swan. Now that we've got that organization, this is what has to happen though. The ribs need to be in relationship to the pelvis, so when we were doing flexion activities, we said we sent the ribs back and up underneath our heart. Going into extension, we're going to send the ribs forward and down towards the pelvis as we come up. So what I want you to feel as the elbows slide down and back, the head and shoulders come up, but continue to push up into swan one where those ribs are coming forward and down into that pelvis.

Can you feel the length of that connection L3 and the belly button connected? and then back down. So it's not how high you go. We don't want to feel any compression in the low back. We really want to feel that length we've just been practicing coming through the head.

So here we go coming down and up feeling that lift in the front, the ribs coming down towards the pelvis. Let that pelvis even lift up a little bit. Uh-huh. Good. And back down.

Now, if you can get your arms all the way straight, you're probably going to be on your knees. Does that makes sense? You're going to be a nice, long body like the front of a ship, and you're going to be a little stiff in the front to prevent you from hanging on that low back. That's what we're looking at. Keep going.

Keep going. Keep going. That's the lift. So if we were to go into a swan dive two, you would never collapse in the low back. You would be just that same shape coming down to swan two.

You want to try a swan two? You don't have to. You can continue swan one, but if you feel like you have the connection, a good swan two would not affect somebody with low back pain, only a bad swan two would effect somebody with back pain. Allow yourself to roll down and roll back up. No takers on my swan dive two?

Last one, and now come right up into your quadruped position. So roll. Pull that belly up. Hands and knees. Now, in the hands and knees position, we're going to go back to the exercise we did with a bowl of soup.

But now we're on the moon, and there's less gravity, so the soup is not going to spill out of your bowl. Same idea though. Let's go with an anterior-posterior tilt of the bowl, and I want you to feel the relationship between the head and the back. So as that spine comes up, what we're going to notice is the head and the bottom go down. As the spine goes down, the head and the bottom come up.

See if you can create it though as dominoes one vertebra at a time talking to the other vertebra one segment at a time especially feeling the communication in the mid thoracic. So as you come down, we're going to feel that sternum coming forward, feel that length, and then back up. Now, we're going to make this a little more complicated. So we're going to add the diagonals to it. Do you remember the diagonals?

All right. So what we're going to do is, we're going to send the pelvis on down to the right foot inflexion, to go into flexion, the right foot. And see what your head naturally does, and then you're going to go anterior to the other side and see what your head does. So when I do this exercise, I feel the communication coming through the spine and articulate it on the diagonals. In the other side, try the other diagonal, nice and comfortable allowing the movements.

So the key here is to get rid of any unneeded muscles and just see what the vertebra would do on their own if you just allowed them to communicate to the vertebra above and below all the way up into the head and the neck. So when that tail bone is up, your crown and your head should be up too. And that neck should be in a little bit of extension because all of your vertebra are in extension. Add the component of axial elongation by that connection, a little bit of connection of reaching through that, and you'll even find a more comfortable position to go into. Finish up with circumductions, circles around with the hips and the head.

If I had long hair, it would be whipping all over the place for that movement. And just allow it to go. Now, the place we tend to move the least, remember is in that thoracic. So if you give yourself a little more attention to that thoracic spine, you're going to find that to be a nice place to be. And go the other direction three or four times just nice movement communicating.

Your body is not going to hurt itself. Listen to your body. And find that nice squared position now, quadruped position. You're going to take your right hand and your left foot and you're going to reach them opposite of each other, and only reach as high as you can control, nothing that would increase the lumbar curve. Bring it back into the ground, and switch arm and leg.

Feel that length. Feel that reach. And switch. And reach. And switch.

And reach. Now, here's the exercise that sort of brings them to where they think they can't do this exercise, but we're going to do a pre star. So you're going to shift over to your left hand, left arm. Shift over them. Reach the right arm, right leg and open up and look to the right.

So open up as much as you can. If you want your left leg to go into a little bit of a kick stand position to the back, that's fine, for balance. I have no problem with that. And then bring it back down, control around. Keep those ribs controlled, back down, and switch sides.

Shift the weigh to the right. Reach the left arm, left leg and open up. Where your eyes go, your body goes. Keep that connection feeling again those ribs coming up underneath your heart a little bit That will keep that connection. One more time.

To the left. I should make a song like that, to the left, to the left. There is a song like that. Oh, there is. Beyonce sings it.

You're right. There it is. Good. All right. Excellent.

Excellent. Now, what we're going to do from here is you are going to sit to the left side going into a mermaid. So just bring your left hip down to the mat facing the back of the room. Yeah. So mermaid position.

Left leg crossed in front, right leg to the side. You got it. Good. You got it. Left hand on the mat.

Right hand behind your head. Now this one, what we want to do is to create the movement in that upper thoracic spine. So what I want you to feel is taking that right elbow and reaching it up towards the ceiling as you depress your left shoulder. So we're going to take-- that's right. And the inhalation is going to happen in the upper right lung.

Feel that expansion. Feel that right elbow reach, and just stay there for a couple of breaths. Check and see if your ribs are aligned over your pelvis or if you're going into extension or rotation. Feel that length in that reach, that elbow going up towards the ceiling. Two more breaths in this position, and again, the longer you sustain the position the more likely your body is to change.

If we go too fast in our mermaid, we often will not have the change in mobility. Now, bringing it up and over to the right side, bring that right hand down, leave the legs the same, and place the left hand behind the head. Now, this side I refer to as the bio mechanical side because your left hip cannot move, and you're going to reach that left elbow now up towards the ceiling, so you're really getting an opening into that side of that ribcage. So inhaling into the left lung and give me three or four breaths in that position, reaching that left elbow up to the ceiling and really appreciating the separation of those ribs. So the ribs are sliding, both sides are sliding to the left.

On the left side, your ribs are sliding to the left and tilting down towards the pelvis. On your right side, they're sliding to the left and lifting up underneath the heart. And what you're going to feel is like an accordion. You're going to feel those ribs open up. That's right.

Good. Now, let's go and add a little bit of speed to it. Up and over to the left, add the gesture arm to it like a normal mermaid. Reach that right arm long. Feel that length, and up and over to the right.

And reach that gesture arm, keeping that movement, and up and over to the left. That's it. And up and over to the right. And last one, up and over to the left. Leave that hand on the left, bring the right hand down next to the left hand Yeah.

Just stay there and push into the mat like you're pushing yourself away and the right sit bone down and go into flexion with your spine. So we'll send the whole spine back into flexion, breathing into the back of the right lung. So we're going to feel the expansion in here, and feel the expansion between the shoulder blades. Exactly. Good.

Now, in this position, press down into the mat and start to bring the head, the neck, and the sternum up into extension, the chest coming between the arms. The sit bone will come off of the floor. That's going to be your extension. Good. And then exhale, send the sit bone back down.

Articulate the spine back into flexion, ribs coming up underneath the heart. Inhale, ribs coming forward and down, head and chest coming up. Sit bone comes up. Exhale sending the sit bone down. Stay there bring your right hand behind your head, open up to the front of the class, and come back up.

Quietly, switch your legs to the left, the left hand behind your head, right hand engaged to the floor, up and over to the right side. Sustain position because this is a different side. Pull the legs to the side. So stay here. Allow that breath to go into the left lung, really focusing on that relationship.

So it's like that right hand becomes your kick stand like on a bike, and you engage into the floor. It's going to open up that space as you breathe. Two more breaths in this position, opening, opening, opening, elbow reaching high to the ceiling. Feel that length from the left sit bone up through the left elbow. Excellent.

Up and over to the left side. Right hand behind the head. Same thing. Four or five breaths, nice and easy, thinking that every time you breathe, those little tissues between the ribs of 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 are opening up a little bit. That movement in that upper thoracic spine takes so much stress off of your low back you can't believe it, that little bit of movement.

Two more breaths, nice and easy reaching, those elbows up from the ceiling, feeling that length. And let's pick up the pace. Up and over to the right, gesture arm reaches with that left arm. Up and over to the left. Right arm gesture arm reaches.

Beautiful. Back to the right and to the left. Last one to the right, all the way over. Now bring that left hand down to join the right hand pressing into the mat setting the left sit bone away and flexion of the spine widening between the shoulder blades. Use your breath.

And now inhaling, pulling the hands on the mat, head, chest come forward, sit bone can come up. Feel that expansion. Exhale, press back into the flexion moving that spine in its rotation. The spine is meant to rotate. We were built to move well, and inhale up, and exhale back, pushing away, pushing away.

Last one. Inhale up. And exhale reaching back, feel that length, feel that expansion on that last breath. Bring that left hand behind your head. That's it.

Open up that chest into neutral, and come on up. Go into a long sit position facing the center of the class, yeah, going right into spine stretch. Now, you can sit with your legs crossed. You can sit with your legs bent. You can sit on top of a box.

The key thing is that you do not maintain tension in the back of the hamstrings or the pelvis so that pelvis is actually in a posterior tilt. Defeats the whole purpose of the exercise. So if you're comfortable sitting up straight in this position, looks like most of you are, we're good to go. So what we're going to do is bring our fingertips down to the floor, and we're going to incorporate a little bit of neural mobilization in this exercise, the spine stretch. So if you take your fingers and you walk those fingers on the floor, don't disengage the floor, but just keep walking out, you're going to feel a little bit of an achiness across your chest and down your arms.

Can you feel that? Yeah. That's the neural tension. Maintain that just for a little bit longer walking those fingers out and feel yourself getting taller and taller and taller and wider and wider. This often is what prevents us from getting our shoulders into the ideal alignment.

It keeps it so the shoulders are collapsing in front from working on a computers. So this is the reason why we want to open and spend some time there. Now, let the arms float up. Hug that imaginary big, wide tree in front of us. And then roll forward over the imaginary ball.

I like to let the back of my hands rest on the floor outside of my legs, and just stay in a position for a second. Take in a deep breath. Lets bring the legs just a little bit closer together for this one. There you go. Feel like your face can drool, like your lips are getting heavy.

If you were to talk right now, you'd feel like your lips are getting very heavy. Right? You feel the lips get very heavy. Take in a deep breath. Now, on that exhalation, we're going to stack the spine up as if we're putting air into each of our disks.

So the L5 disk fills up. The L4 disk fills up with air, and it's going to put the vertebra perfectly on top of the lower vertebra all the way up until you're back in your seated posture. Now, if I had a second to go around and give you this cue, your hands can just drag on the floor. But here you are. Imagine that I got my finger on your head and I have a pump to all the disk in your spine.

So imagine my finger on your head, sh, sh, sh, sh-- pumping up the disks-- sh, sh, sh, sh, sh. You're going to feel your ribs come into perfect alignment with your pelvis. Can you feel that? and that axial length. So from there, walk your fingers out again.

Feel a little bit of that neural tension. Arms float up. Hug that tree a little bit quicker this time up and over the imaginary ball so we have that nice length. Hands rest on the floor. Take in a deep breath.

Exhale, pumping up the disk from L5 to L4 to L3 the 2-- sh, sh, sh, sh-- all the up in the thoracic in the head. Get nice and tall. Hands relax down, and walk those fingers out again. And float the arms up a little bit quicker again, and hug that tree and float over the arms. Take in a deep breath.

And stack that spine up segmentally from L5 all the way up through the spine, the thoracic, the upper thoracic, the cervical, and the head. Last one. Walk the arms out, hug the tree, changing the pace up and over the leg, take in a deep breath, exhaling stacking that spine back up. Very nice. Bring your arms across your chest this time for a spine twist.

Spine twist, what we want to focus on is really staying on our axis, keeping the ribs in alignment of the pelvis, and the movement is there. We often don't realize it. So we're going to rotate to the right side. Stay there to your right side. Stay there for a second.

Let's just explore this. The ribs are rotating around to the right. The ribs on your left side need to move down a little bit towards your hip, and the ribs on the right side need to lift up underneath your heart, and you're going to get about another 15 degrees of rotation. Can you feel that? Yeah.

OK. Because what we do is, we limit our rotation by only moving what the low back allows you to move. Do you feel that? Now, bring it back to the center, and take it to the left. Now, this side we're opening up the ribs on the right side.

So we're going to take those right ribs and draw them down to the pelvis. The left ribs we're going to lift up towards our heart. And then take advantage of that extra two or three segments, the rotation of the shoulder spinning on top of that thoracic spine. So now we're getting our golfers really happy. Right?

Exactly. Let's go a little bit quicker. So we rotate to the right, staying on that axis, organizing those ribs to get that range in motion. Without going to load back those sit bones, the pressure stays the same. And to the left.

Come back to center. Add your beautiful gesture arms. Now, they're just accents. They're not going to move more than your body. You rotate your body without moving your arms around the circle and back to the center, and to the left, and back to center.

A little bit quicker, a little more control. We're getting ready for our golfers and center, and left and center, and right and center. Little bit quicker. And right and left. Good.

And right. Good. Ready to put this together for a little bit of saw? Here we go. Saw position.

Widen your legs a little bit. Let's all put it together between spine stretch and spine twist prepares us for the saw. We won't hurt our backs if we stay with our rules. Our rules are we're going to keep the ribs in alignment with that pelvis. We're never going to collapse or hang on a nerve, or on a disk, or on a nerve root, or anything like that that would bother us.

So here we go on our position. We go into our right rotation. Allow your arm to come over a little bit more, that left arm. Now, it's the up and over that we learned in the spine stretch. Take your time on this one.

Take in a deep breath, exhaling, stacking up and filling up each of those vertebrae with air, and then come back to center. Rotating through the chest to the left, bring that right arm across and up and over reaching outside the pinkie toe of the left foot. Take in a deep breath stacking that spine up from lumbar on up, feeling that same feeling as if the disk fill up. Now, the key is this kind of movement needs to have a little more momentum to it but you cannot sacrifice your control for it. So here we go.

All right? Rotate to the right, and reach up and over, and stack it up. Rotate to the left, reach up and over, and stack it up. And rotate to the right, and reach, and stack it up, lifting from the bottom up, last one to the left and reach-- beautiful-- and come on up. Bend your knees so your feet are right in front of you.

Knees are bent. Hands go behind you going into leg pull but with bent knees. So hands are behind you. Knees are bent. We're going to do a modified version of it.

I personally don't care if you move your hands in different positions. Traditionally, fingers are pointed forward, but some people just can't get comfortable in that position, so I'm fine if you take your hands out, and even sometimes if you put something underneath your hands to lift them up a little bit to give you some space, like a little box or a little yoga roll. So from here, keep the knees bent. We're just going to lift the pelvis up and widen across the shoulders. I want this to be like a plank across the front of your body.

Yeah. And then just hinge the hips back down. The head is actually in what we call 100 position. So when you come up, the head is still going to be just a little bit rolled forward, but do feel the width across the shoulder blades, and then hinge back down on your hips. So here we go, coming up.

Keep that position. Feel that length across the front. Nice flat here. I could fry some eggs on that abdominal. Right?

And then hinge in the hips to come back down, so butt sticks out to come down. And up-- I didn't get breakfast the way I wanted to have breakfast this morning, unfortunately-- and hips back down. Those fried eggs sounded good. And up. Now stay there.

Lift just float the right leg up, and bring it back down. Float the left leg up, bring it back down. Float the right leg up, bring it back down. Float the left leg back up, bring it back down, and bring the bottom down. Good.

Very good. So what I'm going to have you do now is cross your legs, roll over your legs into a plank position. You're just going to hold the plank for 15 seconds. Starting now 15, 14, 13-- I shouldn't punish the people that go the fastest-- 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4-- don't give up. Go down onto your elbows stay in plank all the way down.

10 more seconds on your elbows. Reforms. 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2. Go back up into a push-up position, walk yourself all the way back towards your feet going into a standing roll up. Soften your knees if you need to.

Now, in this position, we're going to think of those disks being nice and juicy and full of air. We're going to send the tailbone down, the pubic bone up. If you need to send your knees forward a little bit to have that space and that comfort, that's fine. The spine will stack up automatically because the ligaments are moving through all the way up into a nice, tall standing position. Stay in this position, close your eyes, and just imagine that we're suspended from an elastic band from the crown of the head.

And I want you just to feel like you adjust your bones, just the skeleton suspended from the ceiling. You can feel the bones moving around through space. You'll feel yourself gently swaying forward and back. You won't collapse because the elastic band is holding the bones up. And the sensation that I want to create is almost one that my feet are reaching for the floor, not my head reaching for the ceiling.

Switch that image around. Yeah. So we're really suspended, and we're just barely reaching the floor with our feet. And the bones can move in all directions, completely loose but lengthened and spacious. We take in a deep breath, and we can feel the expansion of the ribcage, and that actually stabilizes us a little bit with that deep breath.

And then we exhale, and we feel ourselves swaying around again becoming lose. Inhale stacks us back up. Ribs are over the pelvis. Exhale. We become loose again and sway.

And the key thing here is that I want you to realize that in our low back patient population, we want them to release the tension that they're feeling and to have that mobility in their body. Now open your eyes and just be aware of the space around your body, the space around your shoulders where your shoulders are now compared to where they might have been when we started, the width across your chest, the ribcage in relationship to the pelvis. So where some of you started, your ribcage was a little bit in front of your pelvis. Now that ribcage is naturally on top of your pelvis. Some of you started where you were back on your heels.

Now, your weight is a little bit more on the ball of the foot, and you feel that. Where you might have allowed your belly to hang out a little bit, naturally just by coming forward a little bit now, you've lengthened that front without having to be conscious of it at all, you're creating that new length in your body, and that's what we're talking about in Pilates. We want that posture. We want that length. We want the freedom.

You should be able to do your daily activities with freedom and with vigor and zest without having to worry about back pain. That's what our goal is, positive movement experiences without pain. So I hope you feel good. This is Dr. Brent Anderson teaching Pilates mat class for low back. Thank you very much.

Until the next class, thank you.

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Elizabeth D
Love, love, love! The perfect blend of imagery & anatomical information. I could listen to Brent for hours! Hoping there may be another workshop on it's way? Please!
"Hi L3, how you're doing today?
Great, L4, how you're doing today?"
Love this cuing on connectivity through the spine.
6 people like this.
And something not related to the class, but more to the location of the studio...those waves and that glitter in the sea and those people walking along sea is amazing.
7 people like this.
I feel pretty darn good after that!!! :)
Elizabeth, we DO have a workshop on the way from Brent. He taught a Hip Pathologies and Pilates workshop. It was great. It will be coming out in a month or so. (Julian Littleford is up next in the workshop line up)
2 people like this.
I very much enjoyed this session. Brent has an excellent way of communicating - cues were very good. Thank you very much.
Elizabeth D
Kristi, you never fail to come up with the goods! How did I survive before Pilates Anytime.....a constant source of inspiration & information! Thank you so much, looking forward to both Julian's & Brent's workshops!
1 person likes this.
Fabulous. I always love Brent's classes. Can't wait for the hip workshop.
7 people like this.
He's my top example of being a master on using understandable information for those people with back pain. I appreciate a lot his work of getting to this point of knowledge and he is the best from all at this category of rehabilitation.
Thank you Brent and thank you PA!
fabulous! x
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