Tutorial #1834

Cervical Nod

5 min - Tutorial


Neck strain is very common in many Pilates exercises. In this tutorial, Rebekah Rostein shows us how we can minimize neck strain to get the most out of each exercise. She demonstrates the most appropriate way to perform exercises with a Cervical Nod, and then she shows how you can build into traditional Pilates exercises later on.
What You'll Need: Mat, Overball

About This Video


Read Full Transcript

Hello, I'm Rebecca Rotstein and today I'm here with Casey to demonstrate how to do a cervical nod and curl. So many of you are familiar with most PyLadies exercises, at least early on in the [inaudible] repertoire where you're lying on your back and you lift your head up. Well, many people also will complain about neck strain for good reason, because the way that they'll often perform it, it is through leading through the chin. So I'm going to show you today the most appropriate way to be performing these exercises, how to minimize strain, and how to get the most bang for your buck in your Pilati exercises. So Casey, I'm going to have you lie down on your back, and I want to state for the record that Casey is not a a certified pilates instructor or a trained Polonius instructor, which is why I want her today to have a more realistic view of what we often experience. So Casey, let's have you begin by bending your knees. So this already is going to take some of the strain off her back. Just to start out with, this is often a like a [inaudible] prep sort of exercise.

So Casey, let's just look to see the way that you might do this. Naturally. If you were told that you were going to lift your head off the ground and let your arms float up, let's see how you would perform that. She does a pretty good job. So let's just state that for the record. You can lower it back down. She's obviously already been trained even though I haven't worked with her yet.

But what you'll often see people do is not drop their chin first and instead keep their gaze looking up toward the ceiling. So Casey did a great job of looking down, let's show everybody what might not happen if you keep your gaze fixed up there as you rise. Now notice the strain that occurs and now relax back down. So I don't want to hold her there, but the strain that you might have noticed is that she led from her chin and it cranked on the back of her neck. So she shortened or wrinkled the back of her neck area. And that's not what we want. When that happens, it creates more strain in the back and then it actually starts though from the neck. So we're going to do this in a couple sequenced steps.

The first thing is the cervical nod. So one cervical nod means she drops her chin. So it's as if she's nodding and now release. And let's just do this a couple times. Nod your head yes, Casey [inaudible] and relaxed. So everybody, let's do this together. As you drop your Chin and you place your hands at the base of your skull, you'll notice that there's a release of tension right there through the musculature. So that's the nod. Now the curl is the second part.

The Curl is she maintains the Chin dropped, not crunched, just dropped it downward, and then she curls forward. So she drops her sternum downward and her ribs also dropped downward and her hands can slide forward and then they start to float up and she's really just going to keep, just say it's below the shoulder blade area in contact with the mat. I'm not asking her to come all the way up here. Then she starts to engage more through the hip flexors in the back area. So she's just gonna stay to about right here at this position.

Notice how no longer has her gaze pointed upward. Her gaze is actually looking directly toward her. So if she had laser beams that were shooting out from her eyeballs, they would be pointing right toward the middle of her thighs. And now to lower back down, you reverse that process. You keep your Chin dropped, not crunched, just dropped downward as you lower through your spine, wider shoulders.

And then the chin releases at the last minute. So let's repeat that. She drops her chin one and then she curls forward too. So she drops through the sternum. Her heart softens, her ribs soften. She pulls in and up through the low belly, and she also relaxes her shoulders a little bit. Let your shoulders relax just a little bit.

Did you notice how they dropped an inch in space and lower back down? Now some people have challenged with this because they're not feeling the connection or they're not actually getting the connection into the lower abdomen. To facilitate that. We're going to use a small ball. So Casey, you're going to separate your feet just a little bit and let's place this between your knees. I'd probably ideally have something that might be a little less or a little less inflated, more deflated for you just because you're your narrow hips to begin with. But the reason for this is it will engage the inner thighs, the inner thighs have a direct connection into the pelvic floor, and that goes directly in a fashion connection as well, all the way through the rest of her core, all the way up through her throat. So this is going to be really helpful for anybody who's having challenged sensing what I'm talking about. So you have just a gentle squeeze.

Now we drop the Chin and we slide the hands forward as we curl up, relaxing through the shoulders, keeping the gaze in the middle of the thighs. Really Nice. Inhale here and exhale. Let's have you stay there. This time we're going to build on this. She doesn't know this yet. We're going to lift one knee at a time into a tabletop position. [inaudible] and then she's going to lift the other one to meet it.

So we're going to add increasing load. And now we're getting more familiar into standard classical PyLadies exercises. And let's say we want it even to go into the hundred from here. We could even straighten the knees, turn out, possibly lower down, feel the squeeze of your legs, and she's starting to fatigue through her, her legs as well as her head. Bend your knees for us and we're going to relax down. But the point is, you can see how I was layering and building each of that, uh, each of those steps into what would be a familiar type of PyLadies exercise.

So this was a demonstration of how to perform the cervical nod and curl in a way to minimize any sort of strain to the neck, but also to strengthen through the deep neck flexors to maximize your benefits in your PyLadies workout. Thank you for joining us.


Chiara L
1 person likes this.
How useful, I've been doing this wrong all along but no more!
3 people like this.
Fundamentals of Pilates explained precisely. Good to see you online again. Thank you, Rebekah.
Very helpful to have this explained piece by piece. Thank you!
1 person likes this.
Thank you. So clear and helpful
Important building blocks explained and demonstrated well. Thank you both!
What a precise description! This was a wonderful refresher for me.
Brenda B
Perfect! Thank you.
I absolutely LOVE Rebekah's clear instructions to her client and to me as a viewer. I avoid lifting of the head for many of my clients as they already come with existing neck tension! I'm aiming towards teaching this safely, once neck flexors aren't over-dominant.
I love Rebekah's precise way of describing the how to's of every movement.
I appreciate the clarity of the instruction ! Thank you !
1-10 of 16

You need to be a subscriber to post a comment.

Please Log In or Create an Account to start your free trial.

Footer Pilates Anytime Logo

Move With Us

Experience Pilates. Experience life.

Let's Begin