Tutorial #3135

Tendon Stretch Deconstructed

10 min - Tutorial


Build a strong foundation for the Tendon Stretch on the Reformer with this tutorial by Rael Isacowitz. He breaks down the exercise, showing where you need to find support and how you can really stretch your tendons while you are moving. He also shares a few Mat exercises that can be used as preparations for the full exercise so you can work your way up to the advanced work.
What You'll Need: Reformer (No Box), Mat

About This Video

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Sep 03, 2017
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Welcome to the BASI Pilates Academy, which is fully furnished with BASI Systems equipment. Today, we're gonna be working on the BASI Systems Reformer. Thank you Kara for coming in. Kara is a soon-to-be BASI faculty, incredibly talented dancer and Pilates practitioner. And has worked for years to get to the point of being BASI faculty.

I'm so happy have you here today. Kara is going to do the tendon stretch. These exercises that are advanced, the advanced realm of the work need to be given a lot of respect. If we respect them, the world will respect them, our industry will respect them. If we hop up there, put a client in this exercise after their third session just because they may be able to do it, it is discrediting our profession.

It's discrediting the work of Joseph and Clara Pilates. And it's not giving the advanced work the reverence that it deserves. This takes years to get to the point where you do this well with the correct dynamic, the correct feel. It's not just the choreography, but the flow. This exercise has such a beautiful flow to it.

It should be like a pendulum, down and up, and down and up, think of a swing. So, Kara if you could get into the position. By the way, Kara is on one spring, one spring, that's light. We want it to be light. She is using the shoulder girdle to stabilize and support her.

This is where the support is. I want you, Kara, to think of actually lifting your toes a little so you are pushing your, the heels push down all the time. Remember the name, tendon stretch. We're not coming up into plantar flexion, one of the biggest mistakes. It is the tendon stretch, so the tendon is stretching throughout.

This shape stays consistent. I'm gonna start with a preparation, which is pushing out just halfway, Kara, to there. That is the first phase, and back up. The change, there was no change in the position of the body, no change. All she did, was pivoted around her shoulders.

Inhale and exhale, look at those feet, the tendon is stretching all the time. Inhale one more time, and exhale. Even if I have to help her at the end, I don't want her to get into the habit of going into plantar flexion and dropping those toes. Now, we're going to Phase Two. It's inhale and push out and then exhale, keep the heels down, I'll push it in for you, thank you.

Beautiful work. And inhale as she Phase One, Phase Two is that pushing out. And exhale, she lifts up, I'll pull it in for you, don't go onto the toes. Inhale, pushes out, keeping that pelvis nice and lifted, using those hamstrings. Head down, so you're looking down, and then exhale.

I'll keep it in, I'll push it in. And then the last one, inhale and exhale, up. And slowly she sits down and she comes off. Very nice work. So, Kara, the only thing we have to stay away from is that temptation to put those toes down.

So, I'm gonna just clearly demonstrate again. I put on, I'm gonna do it very slow. I've put on a little bit of extra, I've put on light spring, I added a light spring. I come into position. And you wanna feel that you're pushing into that arch of the foot, pushing those heels down.

Phase One as we said there, and then pulling up and there and pulling up, there and push, there and up, there and push there and up, Phase one, Phase two, One, and pause, bend and out. It looked really good, there was just a little bit of opening up when you were out there. Very common, you wanna stay nice and rounded, using the hip extensors to keep the pelvis lifted and the abdominals to pull you back in. And then just not feeding into the temptation. So, we're gonna work on a few mat exercises that are gonna make this look spectacular.

Kara, one of the really important things about the tendon stretch, particularly the Phase One, where it was just the stability holding that position, is literally keeping everything very still. Spinal stability, trunk stability, and in the tendon stretch we pivot from the shoulder, we're gonna do Roll Like a Ball. Such a fundamental exercise, but so important for the tendon stretch. You're also getting that real sense of pulling in from the abdominals. Let's go into the Roll Like a Ball, this is how we do it in BASI.

We bring the heels very close to her bottom. And notice, this is a huge point here, is this natural curve of the spine and not taking the head down into that position which breaks the line of the spine. We wanna keep this beautiful, continuous line of the spine. She's in a perfect position, as she just tips back. Inhale and exhale.

Notice the control, notice how calm that is. Just couldn't be any better, inhale and exhale. I can almost just blow and she goes, that's how she's just balanced. Drop the elbows just a little and inhale, and pauses. It's like a well inflated tire.

And keeping this all nice and tight like a ball, beautiful. Okay, she has that spinal stability, you've got that beautiful control, that beautiful flow. That's really like here, you're going back and up, back and up, and the tendon stretch you're going out and up. When I showed it, I went very far. You don't have to go that far, it's really just your comfort of feeling that flow of energy.

Following on from Roll Like a Ball, there are a couple of variations that we can do of this next exercise. One that I wanna do now is going, pushing into the tendon stretch, so you push dorsi flex, push into the tendon stretch. Now keep this rounding as you bend and then push back into the tendon stretch. Pulling up, yes, and then back. So, in this version of the exercise she never lets go of that very strong flexion of the trunk.

But it's not just the abdominals, look how her shoulders are working. You don't drop the head too much, right there. And then back and you can, hold it there. Look at that, that's a ball. Rolling Like a Ball, into this and we will follow on with one more exercise.

Beautiful work, thank you so much. I know that's tough, that is beautiful. Very nice upper body work on there. The final exercise I want you to stand on the mat. Putting the hands down, and get the position of the tendon stretch with knees bent.

As she straightens her legs, she'll go into dorsiflexion and pull up into the tendon stretch. She keeps this beautiful shape throughout, and then she pulls up into the tendon stretch. She goes down, and she lifts up into the tendon stretch, like she's doing a handstand here. Lifting those toes, pushing into the heels. I know this is working, working, working.

And then down. These preparation exercises will pay back in spades and buckets. I mean, they really will. Doing these exercises, the mat exercises. I can always see when someone has a good foundation, like you.

You do these, you do them so well, then taking you onto the Reformer is a natural progression. Beautiful work. Thank you for your commitment and dedication. Good luck to everyone out there. Please do good, solid work with a whole lot of integrity.

Thank you.

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1 person likes this.
LOVE these individual exercise breakdowns. And even better when it's Rael. It's a beautiful Sunday morning here in Southern Spain and just seen this. Life is good :) Thank you xx
2 people like this.
Thank you, Rael and Cara! Always wonderful to watch you both move so beautifully. Would be great to see more of these short tutorials showing the corresponding preparatory exercises for these advance exercises.
Watching this from Zambia .... thank you both for your commitment and dedication! I echo the comment from Jill above, that it would not only be great to see more of these, but pretty essential too! Please more of these educational and inspiring tutorials!
Nicole F
Fantastic break down! It looks so easy when you both do it. This video really motivates me to finally master the tendon stretch. I will work hard on the mat exercises in preparation before trying it again on my reformer.
When I'm feeling a bit deflated, Rael, your enthusiam re-ignites me and assures me that by re-training as a Pilates teacher at 49yrs I have done the right thing:) Thankyou.
1 person likes this.
Thank for keeping the work real!😌continue please!
I never really enjoyed tendon stretch until now! Thank you Rael for bringing the joy , love and respect back to this exercise for me. You are a true artist and master teacher...
it is not what i do on the Gratz Reformer:(
I especially enjoy your connecting the earlier exercises to the advanced ones in order to see the build up. Thank you for your teaching and for the joy that you bring to the exercises.
I am so grateful for this video. I have been working very hard on this exercise and trying to master some of the more advanced exercises from BASI as I have my exam very soon! Its great to see you break it down and how you associate some of the simpler exercises, that can be practiced at home, with such an advanced move. Thank you so much Rael & Cara.
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