Tutorial #4827

The Goal is the Roll

15 min - Tutorial


Learn how you can find your best spinal flexion with this detailed tutorial by Karen Sanzo. She addresses the deep role of the neck flexors and the abdominals to hold the shape of the spine in flexion for rolling exercises like Open Leg Rocker and Crab. She demonstrates how you can find the optimal position from your head and from your tail so that you can get the most out of these movements.
What You'll Need: Mat, Wedge

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Apr 29, 2022
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In this tutorial, we will address the role, ROLE, right, the role of the deep neck flexors and the abdominals to hold the shape of the spine inflection for our rolling exercises. So start by lying on your back. First thing I'm gonna do is put a cushion underneath the head to actually let the head receive flexion. So I'm actually now gonna put two cushions under. There you go.

And so now look down your cheeks because when your eyes glance down into your cheeks, you're actually telling your neck to flex a little bit. Okay. So he's not pushing anything. He's not grabbing his guts or belly or abdominals or anything like that. The first action here that the body has to understand is the ability to lift and hold the head. So if you don't have a strong enough neck, you can take your hand, take it behind your head, and then just lift your head up to look right about here at your thighs, just hold that there.

Now hover your hand in case you need it, but keep looking here. Okay, and then support your head and then bring your throat back first and then your neck and then your head. Okay. Here's what happens when something goes a little haywire. The head lifts to look towards the thighs.

The hand comes away down by your side. As soon as the person gets too tired, the chin starts to lift and then the eyes are looking back into the head, release, and then go ahead put your head down, and then because I don't want him to get hurt, as soon as the chin let's go and the deep neck flexors get too long then what happens is the back of the neck starts to kick in and it gets real short. So the goal is to do head on neck and then neck on chest. So the first cue is eyes to cheeks. Right?

Then lift the eye or keep looking your eyes as your chin lifts, right? Hold right there. Now we're not even gonna curl the trunk yet. The trunk is already working, but it's the deep neck. And then as he lowers back down, the throat pulls back.

Then the head goes back. Cannot let the head go back before the throat pulls back. So the throat pulling back is much like when we tilt the pelvis, go ahead and let's just take your hands like this so the camera can see, so when you keep tilting the pelvis and keep tilting the pelvis, you don't just drop the pelvis down when you're done, you unroll it, right? You unroll bone by bone, piece by piece, pearl by pearl, whatever cue we use, we have to take that time to get it. So again, inhale big.

Exhale. The pelvis starts to tilt. Now it's not from the butt right here. Okay, it's from the abdominals. The butt will kick in when the butt starts to lift higher but we don't wanna just grab it.

Okay. And then lower down. So now we put both of those together. So the eyes to the cheeks, the trunk lifts. Then the trunk curls. Good. And then the tailbone curls.

Good. And then they just keep doing more. So this is a rolling action. This is not how we lift up in neutral. This is lifting up both pieces coming closer together and then lower yourself all the way back down.

That's really hard. Okay, because it's against gravity. So we're gonna back up a little bit. Take your hand back behind your head again. You can keep this hand here.

It gives you feedback. So use your own hand to just lift your head. Okay. Now hover your hand away. Where should you feel this?

In the front of the neck, right? And then support your head and then bring the throat back. The minute it changes from the front to the back of the neck, that's when I think there's a big challenge. Okay, so lift up the head again. Look right here.

Take a big inhale, the belly will rise. The belly will fall. The front of the neck stays connected. Stays flexed. Eyes are looking almost down at your hand now.

Can you hover your hand? Good. Can you hold that? Take a big inhale. Take a big exhale, and then lower yourself down. This is actually a very good exercise to teach people head on neck.

So switch your hands now, because sometimes we have one hand that gets too used to helping. I'm gonna lift up your head, there you go. There you go. Okay. So now eyes look down here to my hand. They looking down your cheeks, right?

Now the hand stays on your ribs, right? The front of the neck, right? And then start to lift just your head. Good. So it's a, like the forehead is having a beam of light between the knees.

Good, now hover that right hand away. Good, big inhale. You're gonna stay here a little bit longer. You try it too at home. See if you can get up to almost 20 seconds of a hold.

And if you smile, maybe those front muscles, hyoidal muscles underneath your chin kick in, very good. And then low yourself down. Because those muscles are okay to kick in as long as the sensation is in the front of the neck, feel okay with that? Okay, roll to your side and come on up. And now while you're gonna use this wedge also, 'cause remember we're talking about rolling.

So first we're using flexion from top to bottom. So go ahead and lie back here. I'm gonna keep these two cushions, scooch up just a little bit. There you go. Good. So eyes look down towards my hand.

Good. Good. So now I've given him a head start, right? You've seen the wedge before, just kind of given the body a head start. So now your eyes are gonna look towards my hand. Just follow my hand, lift up your head, take a big inhale, take a big exhale.

Hold, good. Now can you start to curl up further from your ribs? You did it. Take a big inhale here and then as you lower down, the head stays up until you roll back down from your ribs and your chest and then you feel the back of your neck and then the head goes down. So sometimes we talk to the front of the neck, right?

Sometimes we talk to the back, front and back cuing. There's a tutorial on that actually as well. All right. So we've done the neck flexion hold. We've done the trunk flexion hold, right?

So roll to your side or just roll on up. And now we're gonna turn this the other way. Okay. And so your bottom will be on here now, and scooch your booty up there. There you go, and then just lie down.

So now we're using the wedge in the reverse direction. The knees will come into the chest. Okay. Now what's interesting when the knees are to the chest here, we do want the hip flexors to work. So we want the knees, the thighs to be pulled in.

So I'm gonna give a little resistance from my hands. You should feel that. Pull a little bit more, good. Now start to curl your bottom as you push, good, and then release. That's really good.

Push the thighs into my hand. Now start to tilt your pelvis, tilt your pelvis. Good, and then release. Good, push your feet down. Sometimes when you add a resistance that almost forces the recruitment proximally.

So now I'm gonna take my hands away. Thighs will come in. Curl your bottom up from your belly pulling in. Good, take a big inhale when you lower down, lower your low back first, right, then your sacrum, then your bum, and then your feet, come to the top of the wedge. So we've used the wedge in upside down fashion to start to teach the curl.

This could be a prep for rollover too actually, but that's not what we're doing here. We're going to do some rolling exercises. Okay, so one more time. Thighs to vertical first. Now this time prior to moving your thighs, can you curl your bottom?

And then the curling of the bottom is what invites your thighs. Very good. And then lower yourself down, rest. All right, scooch your back. So what we've done there is essentially review neck flexion or head on neck, neck on trunk, and then trunk flexion.

And we have reviewed it from the top and from the bottom. So now starting in the sitting position, bring your feet out here so we kind of, and move your bottom forward, we kind of prepare a little bit for rolling. But first we do the balancing with all the pieces, right? So first we start marching one thigh up and down, other thigh up and down. Be surprised that this is actually a little hard, right?

So it's the hip and the belly, right, very good. And then pause. Now put the hands behind the thighs and then start to pull your tummy in and start to do a rollback. Good. And then as we start to do this rollback, have his eyes glanced down the cheeks to his thighs. Okay.

One leg lifts, other leg lifts. And now we balance. The tendency here is to wanna extend the spine and lift the chin. But the minute you come out of flexion, it won't be a flexion exercise anymore, right? So take it and inhale here.

As you exhale, can you flex your thighs in more and change your hands to your shins? It's okay if the answers, very good, inhale big. Still not rolling. Still not rolling. Still getting flexion connection deep.

You can even nod your head a little bit. You can pull your ribs back a little bit. You got it. Big inhale. Big exhale, hover hands.

Good. Good. The goal is the roll and we're getting there. And then exhale, relax. But sometimes just getting that key connection is actually one of the hardest parts to get all that stuff all together. Let's move yourself forward.

So now before we start over queuing a role, we've built up the setup, right? So belly pulls back. Head nods down, right? Remember when that band was here. Can you pull?

Yeah. So all the previous cuing techniques that you've used come into play. Now in order for you not to pull your thighs into your chest, I want you to push your shins into your hands. Inhale back, exhale up. Do not worry about balancing. Do not worry about sitting up tall.

Back, exhale, up. He is not leading with his head. He's leading with the flexion of the trunk. Very good and rest. Okay, so a lot of times what happens, we have to practice the exercise a little bit.

We have to let the head go a couple times and get all loosey goosey until we get that really tight flexion. Progressing now to open leg rocker which is what I call an open flexion, if you will. So take your right leg out, grab your shin, and then just take it up and down a couple times. So now, yeah, so now we feel the open leg. Good, and that's exercise just right there.

That will become hip circles right on the mat. Good and then switch that. Don't worry we're not doing that one. And then up and down. Isn't it great there are so many exercises to build up to?

All right, bend the knee. Now in order to open leg rocker, the body has to roll back a little bit more, right, or your torso has to roll back a little bit more, right? The neck stays inflection, eyes glancing down. One leg comes up, other leg matches. It's not a lot of cuing here, already knows how to roll like a ball, lead with your belly button going back.

It's a tip. Uh-oh, and then come up. And then it's a tip. And then come up. (both laughs) Scoochie forward.

Okay. We can continue. It's okay. We got the gist of it. Now inhale, roll back. Exhale, come up, last time.

Very good. Hold right there. Close the legs, bend the knees, and then round forward. So when the goal is the roll, you have to make sure there's also enough room. So somebody doesn't hit their toes, but we didn't harm anybody during the filming of this tutorial.

So that's really good. But the last flexion exercise where the goal is the roll. We don't see it a whole lot, but the exercise is actually called Crab. Okay, so scooch your butt backwards because when you roll forward your head will go down. Criss-cross the legs.

Now since the goal is the roll here as well, right, we want to be sure the head is flexed before he even starts. He can't over cue this exercise because it has to come from a flexed place. So he's gonna roll back, head will stay looking that way, right, and then come up and now go back, switch the cross of your legs and then come all the way up. Head will go down. Very good.

And then over your feet you go, belly button comes back, switch the cross of the legs. Chin stays to the chest. Lift the back body up, last one, and the roll completed. Very good. And then rest.

Woo, very good exercise. So fun exercise, rolling like a ball, open leg rocker, Crab where the goal is the roll. But you first have to understand the idea of deep neck flexion, neck being able to hold flexion, trunk flexion, pelvic tilting. I think we accomplished all those. Hope you enjoyed it.

Thanks for joining.

Key Connections: Find your 'A-Ha' Moment

This Video
Technique, Rolling, Spine, Flexion

Apr 29, 2022
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The Goal is the Roll
Karen Sanzo
15 min
Pilates Unlimited
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2 people like this.
You, single-handedly, stopped my neck pain in Pilates with your tutorials, especially the one with the lemon.  My neck thanks you.  You have taught me so much.
Janie J
2 people like this.
These cues are the best for understanding the flexion.  Thank you
Always so informative!! Thank you!!
Trang D
thank you so much

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