By Lesley Powell
“One of my students that I teach private reformer with has brought up the following comments a few times…
1) She is not used to thinking of soft abdominals during Pilates practice and she is having a hard time understanding how her abs are working if the are softer rather than tight and gripping…and
2) She has been sore (good sore) after a few my sessions with her, but not all–and she has this hang up that she needs to be sore the next day, like if she’s not sore she didn’t work as hard…any thoughts on how i should respond??”” BBU Teacher In Training
There are many ways to use muscles.
Make a fist with your hand. Feel how you create a lot of tension in your muscles. But…now try to move your fingers!
Now extend your fingers and wiggle your fingers! You are using a different quality of tone that allows movement.
Dynamic movement requires a constant dance of muscles around the joints to stabilize. If we get too rigid in the muscle tone, we lose movement. The deep stabilizers of the body work in coordination with other muscles groups. The coordination of muscles is phenomenal, but it is never going to feel like a bicep curl. Look at weight lifters flexing their muscles. They have to create a static position to bulk the muscle up. These positions have no relationship to how we move.
To get to the deeper muscles of the core, will never have the same quality of tone as flexing and hardening the rectus abdominus. Remember the way to develop the six-pack is crunches. The transverse abdominus will have more of a feeling of a corset. Pilates is training the abdominals in relationship to movement and posture.
Some client’s pathway is that they must learn to release into strength. Tightening superficial muscles is not the answer to improving core support and posture. Also Pilates does not work on the same overload principles as traditional exercise. Traditional exercise works on doing many reps at one time to fatigue a muscle. Pilates has you do smaller reps with different variations of using the body. By the end of a Pilates session, one might have done the similar reps of a body part as traditional exercise.
Sometimes we must challenge the client into realizing their poor connections. Put them in plank pose for a longer period time. SAFELY put them in an exercise a little above their level. Then bring back the importance of the beginning work to create this kind of strength.