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  Pilates low back pain (3):   experiment with breathing! Pilates Information
Pilates Alexander Technique
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Previous Lesson: Pilates Low Back Pain (2): Work the Transversus abdominis .
Efficient breathing:-
("Finding Chest Neutral").

Stand with your feet hip width apart and pelvis in neutral. Zip and hollow as described in the previous lesson. Place your hands on your hips (imagine you are about to tell the kids off)! Now bring your hands a little higher, up to your lower rib cage, index finger covering the front, and thumb covering the back (see diagram). Let your shoulder blades slide downwards. Do not shrug your shoulders up! Now breathe in wide!

Where did you feel your ribs expand to?-
  • forwards?
  • sideways?
  • backwards?
  • all three ways?
Ideally, you should feel the ribs expand all three ways.

Now (pelvic neutral, zipped and hollowed, hands still over lower ribs)- tilt your rib cage such that the shoulders come forward and your back is hunched. Try breathing. Did the ribs expand toward the back?

Next, tilt your rib cage such that the shoulders come backward, and you have arched your back. Try breathing. Did the ribs expand toward the front?

Finally, experiment with the tilt of your rib cage to achieve rib expansion all three ways (forward, latterally, and backwards) at the same time.

(pilates breathing - scroll right>>>>>....
When this happens, your lungs are working at peak efficiency, and (even more importantly),your upper back has found "chest neutral", and is therefor protected from damage! Now experiment with this new found extra lung capacity. Try standing taller. Try adjusting the set of your thoracic spine. But take the breaths slowly, because itís easy to hyperventilate. BreatheSitting
Putting it all together in different positions.
Try "zip and hollow" and "pelvic and chest neutral" in the following positions:-
  1. Relaxation position
  2. Lying on your front
  3. Lying on your front (imagine that there is a fragile egg sitting under your navel, and you do not want to crush it!)
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The Back Maintenance Manual
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The Benefits:-
If you are a jogger or walker, then next time you go exercising, try applying "zip and hollow" and "pelvic neutral" It will feel strange. You may feel as though you are in a straight jacket! But you will have immediate benefit in terms of:-
  1. Not having to breathe so often, which means less chance of exercise induced bronchospasm.
  2. Lower abdominal muscles freed from the task of breathing and now able to do what they do best: protecting the lower lumbar spine and sacro-iliac joints from twisting about the long axis.
  3. Posturally corrected spine, working in its strongest middle range of movement.
The above introductory exercise session combines the best of Pilates Exercise Routines, Feldenkrais "Exploration of Movement", and Alexander "Teaching". You now have some strategies for avoiding damage to your spine. and all this without having spent any time on stretching and flexibility exercises. Those will come later! If you have had difficulty working through the above tasks, then donít despair. Try again tomorrow! Work especially hard on the "zip and hollow" aspects. The rest will eventually come! You have completed you first EasyVigour Pilates lesson. Congratulations, and thank you for your time!
Next Session: Pilates Low Back Pain (4): Fine Control of the Zip & Hollow

© Bruce Thomson EasyVigour Project
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