Tutorial #2386

Functional Patterns

20 min - Tutorial


What is functional movement? In this tutorial, Carrie Macy explains how Pilates is a functional workout method and why that information is important. She uses exercises in the three main planes of movement to demonstrate why we need to move in certain ways, and discusses why the exercises we struggle with are sometimes the ones we need most.
What You'll Need: Mat

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Nov 29, 2015
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I am Carrie Macy Samper and I'm so excited to be here today to talk about this tutorial because it's really the reason that I still teach and do Audi's. The subject of the tutorial today is functional patterns in [inaudible] and the term functional training is something that we hear a lot today that is spoken of in the fitness industry a great deal and of a cool thing to do the right way to work out. And I think it's even more important that PyLadies really has been a functional workout methods since its inception and we've already been doing these things. So we're going to look at today how PyLadies is a functional workout method and why that's important. So I thought we'd start with the definition of the word functional, which means relating to the way in which something works or operates and PyLadies exercises are really relating to the way in which your body works or the way in which your body operates, or at least the way it should operate, right?

For a lot of these exercises that we struggle with are really the ones we need because they're probably working our body in positions or in ranges of movement that are challenging for us. And probably those ranges of movement are challenging for us in the things we do in our daily life as well. So it's very important that we're able to move our body, that we're flexible and strong in every plane of movement. And when I talk about planes of movement, we'll discuss the F, the three main planes of movement sagittal plane, which is running, walking, swimming, things that are moving in this direction. We will also talk about the frontal or coronal plane, which would be jumping jacks or anything lateral moving side to side.

And we talk about the transverse plane, which is twisting or rotation. And PyLadies does all of these things beautifully. It's strengthens and stretches and all of those planes throughout the workout. And today we will look at mostly mat exercises, but it does translate these functional patterns translate onto all of the apparatus. And I also wanted to mention that when we work our body in parts, work it in pieces, don't work it as a single hole or only work out in one plane of movement.

This is when we get injured. This is when we realize, oh, I used to be able to do that movement and now I can't. That's because we've been neglecting some plane of movement or some range of motion. And in PyLadies if you're doing your workouts consistently and I'm focusing on all planes of motion in the workout, you will be a better person for it. So I'm today to have Caroline Devereaux with me and she will be demonstrating many or all of the [inaudible] exercises that we use to demonstrate how Polonius helps these functional planes of movement. Okay, so I'm going to go around to the back now and Caroline will face the structure first and we'll start, we'll start with that by discussing the sagittal plane sagittal plane of movement, which again is movement forward and back. And I'm going to break the sagittal plane into two different, two different groups, one being sagittal flection forward flection of the spine, forward flecked or flection of the hip flection of the knee joints.

And then the second sagittal grouping will be extension and that will be working the whole back body, opening the spine, extending the spine, the hip and the knee. Okay. And starting with sagittal flection. Um, a really important reason we need to be able to do this is to get down and up off of the floor, um, to get in and out of bed, to sit down and take off our shoes to just sit down on the couch or maybe even sit down into that chair. That's really a little too low, right? We need flexibility in our hips and our knees. We need strength in our abdominals to be able to help us navigate these motions. So to pilates exercises that help us to do this are rolling like a ball and seal. There's many others, but we'll, we'll talk about those two today specifically and break down a little bit why those are so helpful. So Caroline, we'll get into the her position of rolling like a ball. She holds onto her ankles, she pulls her heels very close to her bottom, and then she rounds her head towards her knees and she picks her feet up off of the mat to find a balance. Now if you notice here, she's in complete flection in her spine. She's rounding her spine forward.

Her hips are in a great deal of flection in fact is probably as much as she can get them. At this point they're really Preston and so are her knees, so we're pushing most of the body parts here. They're inflection into the the biggest range of motion of flection. Okay, so now she does the exercise. I want you to roll back to your mid back and roll right back up to the top. Good. And you can in fact continue just like you are. Keep Rolling.

And notice Caroline does this so beautifully. She is not moving her body apart, right? Her body is working as one piece and because she's maintaining this position, her abdominals are working very hard to do that. Her hip flicks or they're working strongly, even her shoulder, um, shoulder muscles. Her arms are strongly holding this position. Plenty you can roll all day.

So she's strengthening the front of her body and she's also opening and stretching, making mobile, all of the joints for forward flection. Okay. Making it very easy. If I gave your shoes to put on to put your shoes on. Okay. Moving on to the seal. The seal is very similar obviously to rowing like a ball. It has two main differences.

The first being when she puts her hands between her legs, she's going to put her hands between her legs and then hold around her ankles. This automatically drew her closer together. So now her hips and her knees and her spine are even in a greater deal of flection. It's harder to get into the position and then she'll find a balance and I'll have her do two seals before I talk about the second reason that this is a little more challenging than rolling like a ball. So she claps her feet three times. She rolls back to her shoulder blades, claps three times and comes back up. Try again. So roll back, try to balance and clap and up. No, I want Caroline to balance when she's back and hold it while she's clapping.

So there's no movement. She holds one, two, three much better and holds one, two, three. She rolls back again. Lifts and holds two, three and up to three. Good. And you can rest for a moment. So the, the idea that I want her to suspend back there and maintain the position while she's clapping is um, getting her to need more strength and more control of her powerhouse. Right. It was hard for you to hold that position. So it's pushing your limit. Rolling like a ball.

You just had to go back and forth and in seal you actually had to sustain something more and hold it there. So oftentimes clients would, might ask me, you might be wondering, why do I clap my feet in the ceiling? That seems like a silly thing to do. Well, there's the reason it's just, it's actually something to do with your body while you are challenging your core a little bit more in strengthening a little bit more. Yeah. Okay. So that's sagittal flection, um, reasons why you need to do it and also exercises that help that. Okay. So now let's move on to sagittal plane extension. So I'm going to have Caroline lie on her stomach with her head here.

At this end. The two exercises will, we will be using here to demonstrate our, the swan and swimming. And so Caroline, for the moment you can just rest your forehead on your hands while I do a little introduction. So sagittal plane extension is very important. It's probably using the back of our body is probably the thing that people forget to do the most that we don't pay attention to. We don't realize, oh, we need a strong back. We need strong glutes, strong hamstrings to actually accomplish things that we're doing in front of ourselves. So these two exercises will strengthen the posterior chain muscles of the body.

It works down the whole spinal spinal column, the spinal erectors, like I said, your glutes and your hamstrings and it will open and extend the joints that we just were compressing and flexing prior to that. It's very important to have the balance of both. Okay. So to use the example of the Swan, Caroline will put her hands right by her shoulders. She's going to do the full advanced version of the swan so that I can illustrate a certain point. But certainly any modification of this also does much of what you need here in strengthening the back body.

So she presses her hands down into the mat as she opens and lifts her chest and she slides her arms out and starts to rock back and forth. And I want her to keep her chest lifted as she lifts her legs. So she tr there, Caroline, she tries to stay and maintain the same arc the whole time, which is quite challenging. Beautiful. Rest for a moment. You may sit back in a child's pose for just a moment. So that was so lovely. If you all noticed how she maintained this suspension of complete extension and very little did she actually move in parts like her head went down and then her legs went up. She didn't do that. And there's the train.

It's just as excited for your swan. You can come back on your stomach for the moment. Okay. So not only as she strengthening all of those muscles I was referring to, but she's strengthening them evenly and elongating them as well. So it's not just working the upper back or just working the glutes, it's all connected. It's one unit. Okay. Similar to that is swimming with us with a few added differences.

So she will do swimming, her palms face down, she lifts her arms, chest, legs, everything up off of the mat and she starts to flutter her arms up and down and her legs up and down. And Caroline go as big as you can and straighten your elbows as much as you can. Long and reaching good. So you'll see here at continue to go and breathe as you do it, that she has that extension. She's working her glutes, her hamstrings and her upper back. And she's also creating more mobility and opening in her hips and in her shoulder joints as well.

And then you can rest good and sit back onto your heels again in a child's pose. So again, so important as I said before, to have the balance of the front and the back of the body, but also very important for posture. This reminds us that we need to stand up, we have to use our back body muscles to be able to stand properly, to be able to keep our hips and legs in alignment and also to be able to do simple things like pulling groceries out of the car. If we're just using the front of our body, that's when we get injured. That's when we hurt our back. When we hurt our, the front of our arm, if we're pulling them out with our back, that's when there's a balance.

We're using the front and the back and we'll be much happier for it. All right, thank you Caroline. So now we have two more planes of movements and we're moving on to the frontal or coronal plane, which is side movement, right? And the reason we need to do this are maybe we're playing tennis, we have to go side to side. Maybe we are dodging away from, a car's going to hit us somewhere. There's lots of reasons jumping jacks that we need this type of range of motion. So in Pilati is the two exercises we will use are the side bends and the kneeling sidekicks. Okay, so first side bends you can come on to your right hip, beautiful, flex your feet and straighten your legs just a bit more out and then your hand is slightly out from your shoulder at the moment. Perfect. Left palm is up, she lifts her hips and reaches her left arm all the way over her head into the parking lot. This is a challenging one to find balance.

Now all points out that Caroline is using her front body and her back body just to maintain balance and now we were adding in the challenge of also working on the side and then have a seat with control all the way back down and lift up again and I'll illustrate. Another important point of this is that you see how she's going up further than just a straight plank like lower your hip for a minute, Caroline, she's going higher than this. The reason she goes all the way up here is to create this arch, which was one of the most stable structures that we have. If she comes down to this flat line, there's a lot more pressure on her shoulder joint in her arm. Do you feel that? And on her ankles it's much harder to sustain. So if she lifts higher yet again, she's holding very well. We can think of her hip joint and her hip socket, almost like a keystone of an arch, right?

It's that last piece when you're building a structure that will hold it there and keep it stable. So she's really working on strengthening that hip joint and mobilizing it to be able to lift there and then you can come and sit all the way down. Beautiful. Tuck your knees in and come to your knees for the kneeling. Sidekicks. Very similar. I'll come over here on this one. Yep. And your fingertips can still face out the door. Again, she's going to set up so that move your knee in a little more.

Her knee is right under her hip and her hand is right under her shoulder and her left hand can go behind her head. Great. And then she lifts up her other leg and again, she's using the front body and the back body to maintain stability. And here's that same little keystone. And then this point, she's really working at much in a much more challenging position because this leg is an a further lateral motion. So push your hips even more forward. And then she's just going to bring her leg forward to her nose and reach her leg all the way back behind her. Now bring it forward.

So she's actually using the front sagittal plane and the back sagittal plane as well as the frontal or coronal plane. So it's a big mixture. And then you can rest your leg down. All right. And have a seat. Gorgeous. We have one plane of movement left, which is the transverse plane. So go ahead and lie on your back with your head that direction. Yes. And your legs can stretch out onto the mat.

The transverse plane is rotation, so it's any type of twisting motion. Very important. Even in small things like driving and needing to look over your shoulder to make sure that you're not going to run into anyone. When you change lanes, you have to actually rotate your spine. My favorite example of this and [inaudible] is actually single leg circles because it's truly a full body motion that's almost organically created just by the legs starting the whole, the whole motion. So bring your right leg up to the ceiling.

So as she starts this exercise, her leg goes across her body, it makes, pulls her spine into rotation, her leg goes around, her spine comes out of rotation and her whole core pulls her leg right back up to the center. And we do it again. She goes into rotation out of rotation and the whole time do two more. The movement is controlled from her core, rotating and moving that leg around. Beautiful. And then bend your knee to your chest. All right, you can keep the knee right there cause the next exercise we'll use as an example is the criss cross. So plays both hands, one on top of the other, behind your head. Good. And then come up to a crisscross position.

So why don't you twist forward to the right. Correct. Now what we're looking for in Chris Cross is that there's a straight line from this toe to her other toe to her knee, to her elbow that hopefully is touching her knee. Yes to her head. That comes back towards me a little more to her other elbow that is off the ground and reaching the parking lot. Now you'll notice her spine is in a very deep rotation.

She's really working that they're getting stronger and more open and flexible and then she switches sides and tries to get the same work. Here we have the straight line of all those points, hopefully down the body, very hard to get there. Her hip stays stable so that her upper spine can go into that deep rotation and then come back center and relax. Your legs was very nice. All right, and you can sit up. So that shows all the exercises in [inaudible], not all of them, some of them that will be functional for you working all the planes of movement.

So make sure that when you do your PyLadies workouts, you do do exercises. Then all of these planes, if you're only paying attention to one, that's when you won't get a full workout, and that's when you might hurt yourself or find that you're not able to do something, any more functional patterns in Audis.

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3 people like this.
This was a very informative tutorial, Carrie! Thank you for sharing such great knowledge with us. I definitely learned a lot!
Excellent, Summer :). I'm so glad it was helpful for you.
1 person likes this.
Greetings Ms Carrie Macy I have come across you quite a lot on my Classical Pilates internet research.
You are one of very few Instructors to my knowledge that speak about the Posterior Chain group of muscles in our Pilates Mat practice. There is an imbalance of flexion and extension movement within the Traditional Mat practice, and over the years, I have come across many who get into trouble with this because of the excess loading of the lumbar spine. The Rest Position frequently used transitionally, does not redress the balance, simply gives the spine a rest. It requires extension isometric co-contraction movement to create real spinal integrity. I would welcome your thoughts.
Dear Ms Carrie Macy, I forgot to ask, if I may please, what sort of Resistance Training do you do twice weekly, and can it be done at home?
What Equipment is required please?
Thank you again.
1 person likes this.
Thank you Carrie, very informative and useful! Hope to see you again soon! I love your work! And your Toe sox ads!
Hello Mat Work,
Yes, I agree with you that there are not enough extension exercises in the classical mat work - if you do the true, full mat order, there are more extension exercises but still not quite enough. The classical apparatus work provides us with many more extension opportunities, so in a session I would use more of those exercises to balance out the workout. If just doing the mat work, I often add some additional posterior chain exercises.
As far as resistance training besides Pilates apparatus work, I do lift weights as well. But it would require greater explanation than is possible here.
Haha! Thanks, Denee!
Thank you Ms Carrie for your replies to my enquiries.
I note your reference to the use of Apparatus, but, like many I imagine, it is quite simply unaffordable.
I believe everything contained within the Classical Method can be achieved with diligence, the use of a mat, resistance work, weights, and using your bodyweight appropriately to build overall strength.
Do you have video access to the "many more extension exercises you would include to balance out the full mat order"?
Thank you for your interest.
1 person likes this.
Thank you, it was very informative!!!
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