Muscle Madness: designing the Pilates body
The sweet smell of lavender wafted into my booth all weekend at the Body-Mind-Spirit Conference. We were in perfect proximity to SmartSpine (TM), designed by Marie-Jose Blom-Lawrence. You may know of her as the founder of Long Beach Dance Conditioning, a comprehensive Pilates Certification center.
According to the company, “SmartsSpine is designed to ease the bio-mechanical challenges of the spine during simple core exercises, requiring the use of deep abdominals, while also simplifying teaching and cueing techniques”. Through my limited experience, it seems like a comprehensive system of neuromuscular re-education; providing clients with greater kinesthetic awareness through intelligently positioned bolsters and pillows that are heated and scented with lavender. Clients re-discover how to move from a place of optimal alignment.
The element of heat is so instrumental because it facilitates the release of hypertonic muscles; allowing the body to recruit muscles that tend to be dominated by what I call muscular “control freaks”. For example, there’s a long flat bolster for the spine that I had the luxury of melting into. The release of my para-spinal muscles was one that I happily surrendered to as a laid calmly on the Cadillac amidst the bustle of conference attendees. Then, with the gentle pull of the handle on the sacral end of the bolster, Lisa Perry of Kinesphere Studio in Phoenix, added the most glorious traction to my spine which was undoubtedly compressed from 3 days of standing at my booth. The, oh so sweet, organic lavender (optional) calms the mind and allows you to focus more inwardly on the experience. The same bolster was placed horizontally across my ASIS bones to aid in the release of my hip flexors. I did “knee folds” with the genius cue of “let your thigh bone sink back into your hip socket and hover your foot slightly off the mat”.
(Lisa Perry of Kinesphere Studio guiding me through my first experience with SmartSpine)
The work went straight into my deep abdominals and iliopsoas muscle. Then I increased the range of motion with the same intention, which intensified the work… in all the right places. VOILA! Then, the hip flexor stretch…! I sat with my ischial tuberosities (sits bones) right at the front edge of the Cadillac and rolled onto my back hugging one knee into my chest. The other leg dangled off the edge of the table and my hip was wrapped with the heated bolster. Heat and gravity alone provided such an amazing release in my hip flexors.
I experienced all this goodness with just one of the many anatomically designed bolsters such as the Sacral Wedge (which you see coaxing my pectoral muscles into submission), Arch Tubbies, and the Cervical Disc.
These are perfect tools for those who teach Pilates in rehabilitative settings. Although they don’t fit into the Pilates Studio model where I currently work; as a massage therapist, these would be ideal for preparing muscle tissue for deep, specific work. I always love learning about new tools that aren’t mere gimmick; but are designed intelligently and have a real purpose in designing the Pilates body. Thanks Marie Jose for your never-ending passion for training instructors to be body workers and helping clients experience life more fully in their bodies!
Rock Your Powerhouse!