Hi Malgorzata - I am holding a 1st edition of the book in my hand in this video! It's a copy signed by Joseph Pilates (!) that was found in a real estate sale and almost got discarded because it didn't have a dust jacket. The finder did realize it held the author's signature and decided to put it on eBay - lucky us!
Hi Kathleen - neck strain in exercises that involve a lift of the head is a tricky topic, and it's near impossible to make blanket statements as there are many different reasons why clients experience excess effort in their necks. It often has to do with either inflexibility along the spine, weakness along the flexion chain, or poor timing in the stabilizing muscles around the spine. In a well-balanced body, the head should sit freely on top of a fully curved spine during this movement. Note that the flexion chain has to work as a whole here and INCLUDES the neck flexors, but it certainly shouldn't feel like a "neck exercise". I often have new clients support their heads with their hands, and work simply on the lift of the head, neck, shoulders, and legs.
[Part 2 for Kathleen] Keeping in mind that we specifically discuss the traditional exercise here, if neck strain persists I personally choose to work on the full-bodied lift first before positioning the arms, and even before adding the pumps. Let me know how you get on and if this brings up more specific questions!
Thank you for your prompt response. I have a client which uses her neck no matter what she does. I usually have her keep her head down and she is still tensing her neck and clenching her jaw. I've advised her to tap her neck with her fingers to try and relax while just engaging abs. My thought is she is working way too hard trying to pull her abs in. Also if I prop her up a little higher it will help a little in the beginning but then she goes back into clenching. Any other thoughts?
The solution will largely depend on whether there is a mobility issue (stiffness or tightness in any one area may result in loss of dynamic stability in others) or a neuromuscular disconnect (the body simply doesn't "know", on a subconscious level, to turn certain muscles on in a given challenge). It sounds that propping her up only helps in removing the symptom somewhat, but doesn't relieve or strengthen her to overcome the cause of the problem. It's hard to tell without seeing your client move. How is her Roll Up?
I appreciated your consideration of the various reasons for neck tension in the hundred and other exercises. The other night I put the focus on feeling the stretch of the spine as the head is lifted, and this shifted the practitioner's focus from anticipation of neck strain to: oh, I'm going to stretch my back...and that will feel good! At the end of class, a practitioner said the work had felt like a full body massage. I was happy!
Cheryl - miss you, too! And I love your student's comment!!! Shifting one's focus in movement is indeed a powerful tool, for movement can lend itself to so many purposes... "exercise" is really just one of them (and not necessarily the best).