Whoo Hoo, I hope everyone had a good snow day! I personally love them, but I also live downtown and don’t have to worry about a car or shoveling my driveway 🙂 so I guess that makes it a little more enjoyable!!
For today’s post, I want to talk about the last and final principle. Well actually the next one would be Shoulder and Scapula Stability but since I already wrote a post about that, I won’t repeat myself…however if you would like a refresher course on that, you can click here.
So with Shoulders covered, I will finish up today with Head and Cervical Placement.
The biggest emphasis I like to place on this principle is to think of your head as an extension of your spine, at all times during all movements. Sounds easy right? Not always! Not because it’s not difficult to do but because it’s not something we’re not used to doing or always thinking about.
Two of the biggest examples of keeping your head in line with your spine are:
Flexion (nodding your chin forward) and Extension (lifting your chin upwards).
Spinal Flexion (crunch position)
When going into flexion think of lengthening the back of your neck away from your shoulders before coming up into the crunch position. This will prevent you from using the muscles in your neck, and you will be starting the movement with your head and neck in a neutral position, which is what we are aiming for. Also, in flexion you want to keep your eye line right in line with the top of your knees. This will prevent you from:
- Jamming your chin into your chest and creating over flexion
- Keeping your eyes up towards the ceiling forcing your neck into extension while the rest of your body is in flexion.
Before going into a crunch, practice head nods (getting comfortable with your head placement) so when you do a full crunch, you can reap the true benefits of doing it the right way.
Step 1: Lying on your back bring knees to a bent position with your feet slightly apart, your arms should be by your sides. Looking straight up, pretend the ceiling is a red traffic light.
Step 2: Inhale and nod your head, you’re eye line now shifting to looking at the green light. You should feel a slight lengthening of your neck or cervical spine.
Step 3: Exhale and look back up at the red light.
Spinal Extension (lifting your upper body off the mat while lying on your stomach)
The same goes when you are bringing your body into extension. You want to think of lengthening the crown of your head as far away from your toes. While coming into extension your eye line should be looking slightly forward not directly underneath you.
When lying on your stomach and lifting the upper torso, you want to pay particular attention to maintaining an even line from the upper back to the neck and avoid lifting your head too high and crunching up the back of the neck.
By making a conscious effort to keep your Head and Cervical placement in good alignment, while working out and doing Pilates, you’ll avoid so much unnecessary tension in your head, neck and shoulders. And you will be able to strengthen the proper muscle groups like your core when doing the ab series or your thoracic spine when doing exercises in extension, instead of holding tension in your neck and shoulders.
So there you have it, the 5 Basic Principles, Breathing, Pelvic Placement, Rib Cage Placement, Shoulder and Scapula Stability, and Head and Cervical Placement. I challenge you to think about these five principles next time you do your workout. It most likely won’t happen overnight but with time, I promise you will notice a difference in your body and start to gain body awareness 🙂
Okay although I love snow storms and being lazy on the couch, I officially have cabin fever, so I’m going to bundle up and head out for a walk in the snow 🙂