Free Pilates Reformer Class on Pelvic Stability

Pelvic stability with Victoria


Welcome. My name is Victoria, I'm with Wow, Pilates! and I teach here in this studio at Club Pilates Petaluma East. Today where we are going to do a Pilates session working on balancing our pelvis area. Many common issues come from an imbalance pelvis… like S.I. joint issues, sciatic nerve issues, knee issues, ankle issues and even shoulder issues. So if we balance our pelvis through Pilates, we can help avoid those issues and injuries. And that's what we're going to do today.

The muscles we are going to be working with is the QL muscle, which is in the back here. We also are going to work with our glutes, piriformis, hamstrings, quads, tensor fasciae and iliacus and psoas muscles. We are going to start this session with the warm up--- all Pilates sessions should start with the warm up. And we are going to use footwork as our warm-up today. So I'm going to come down on the Pilates reformer here, which we will be doing all our exercises on.

And before we even get started, we're going to identify the imbalance in our pelvis area. The best way to do that is to bring the soles of your feet together, let your knees fall open. Then you have these two bones that protrude out—they’re called your ASIS bones. And you can tell if they're not aligned, you should be able to set a little ruler from one bone to the other here. You can feel if one bone is a little higher than the other or if it's a little higher this way, if these were the two bones and they should be able to set a ruler here. If one is higher, which is usually my right side, which is convenient for the way the camera is, you can go ahead and make that adjustment.

So as you notice, as I try to pull this hip down a little bit deeper into the reformer, it balances my pelvis and that's where I want to start. If you do not start in proper alignment, you're just going to reissue the dysfunction in your pelvis and you'll never solve the problem.

So that is the main thing of starting any reformer routine is to balance out your pelvis. Now, I'm going to try to always keep this hip pulling down. For some people, it might be on the left side. Luckily for me, it's the right side. So we work good with the camera and we're going to start with our heels on toes pointed up and we're going to engage the core as we push out, breathe in through the nose, come in, breathing out through the mouth. So this footwork helps warm up your ankle joints, your knee joints, your hip joints and your core. I also should have a little space between your back in the mat. That brings me into a neutral spine where I could slide a pencil right through here. And I honor that space.

And we're just going to keep warming up. I'm going to keep pushing this hip down to keep my pelvis into alignment. Breathe in through the nose. Out through the mouth. Six to eight is a good rep. You can always do more or less, but you want to try it at least to get six to eight in. Once I've done it on my heels, I want to drop down to my toes, wrap my toes around the bar, wear some high heels and go.

This works into the calf muscles more and fires different muscles into the legs. You still have to engage your core and still keep that neutral spine, that natural curve of your spine. Breathe in through the nose as you go out. Out through the mouth as you come in.

Beautiful. We're going to go ahead and bring the heels together and allow the knees to open up and this is called Pilates First. I'm still trying to pull my hip down here. And as I push out, I squeeze into the inner thighs to get those inner thighs firing. As I work up into the inner thighs. It helps to lift up into the pelvic floor and into the transverse muscle. So I want to pretend I'm zipping up from the ankles all the way up to the belly button.

This also helps to work the gluteus minimus and it helps to create that rotation out, which also helps balance the pelvis area. Staying engaged. Last one. And then bring it all the way in so I can move up to my heels. Same thing, heels together Pilates first and go. We like to change positions with the feet because it helps us to fire different muscles in the legs. In through the nose, out through the mouth, staying engaged into the core.

Nice… and the last position for the feet is all the way out to the edge of the bar, our wide second. I like to do this on my arches, it’s the most stable position. Since we already worked toes and heels, we can work into the arches. Now, I'm still trying to pull this hip down. I'm still trying to zip up into the core, that pelvic floor. Still working with my breath.

With this last one, I'm going to hold it out here. This exercise is going to help to create that stability in the pelvis. I'm going to lift the right leg up off the bar, hold it here, keep the left hip down. So just lifting this right leg up, the left hip will want to lift up. So this is firing my obliques and that QL muscle. From here I'm going to do just little circles with this leg. As I do this, I'm going to maintain stability in the pelvis area.

So I don't want to be rocking. I want to engage, stay stable. And this is the beginning of helping to balance out the pelvis area. And then I bring this foot down. And I lift up the other one, so this really helps me to focus on bringing the right side down for me. Everybody's different. Some people might have a left side that needs to be focused on minus the right and middle circles with my left leg stabilizing my pelvis. And I'm going to bring this foot down and come all the way in. Nice.

I’m going to change some springs. I'm going to do some single legwork. It’s very important to do single leg work when you're trying to balance out your pelvis because usually you have a stronger leg and this will help balance that out because that could be a lot of pull in the pelvis area. To do a single leg work, I want to drop off a spring. I should be on a red and a blue.

From here, I'm going to lay on my side for sidelining work. Your headrest should be up. The top leg, the foot is on the bar. I like to have my toes off the bar a little bit. It keeps me in alignment. I want to stack my hips, stack my shoulders and pretend I'm lying against a wall back here and I make a little mouse hole right where my ribcage in is. That brings my spine into alignment. If this rib cage was dropped, look how it makes a little U shape, right? So, when I kind of just lift up here, makes a straight line and you're just going to start pushing up.

Don't forget the breathing part is so important. The breathing connects you with the core. As you do this work, I can really feel where the hamstring and the glute connection is firing to make this move happen. I’m really controlling the coming back. Don't forget to work with the breath. Keep this core pulled in, especially around the bellybutton area, the bellybutton is a great way to control the transverse muscle. It's a lot bigger than the belly button, but this is where we have control and that helps stabilize the pelvis.

You can go halfway into the work and do tiny little pulses. They are actually harder and you feel the burn a little bit deeper right there where that hamstring and glute attachment is… your sit bone.

Go all the way out and come back in. Then we're going to come up where I lift the toes up, the knee goes up, but the hip will want to fall back. Keep it forward. That's where you keep your pelvic stability going on. And we're going to go from here. So, it's kind of like a half a froggie. Half a Pilates first.

Really keep this hip forward, it will want to fall back. Use your core, those oblique muscles are helping you keep that forward. Transverse muscle. Nice, and you can always go halfway in and do the tiny little pulses which are actually harder. Small movements work small muscle groups, which are usually your stabilizing muscles. Big movements work big muscle groups and we want to focus on the stabilizers. They are usually not worked enough. Go all the way out and come back in.

Ok, so now I'm going to go to the other side and do it because my right leg really needs the work. And of course, my whole foot comes on, my toes are hanging off. I'm going to stack my hips, stack my shoulders, imagine myself lying against that board and make my little mouse hole under my ribcage and go.

So, I feel a lot more on this right side. It's part of the problem. It’s a little bit weaker. As I do this work, I want to make sure as I come back in, my knee doesn't drop down. It stays nice and aligned here. I really feel it right here where the hamstring and glute connect at the sit bone.

Then go halfway out and work those tiny little pulses. Go all the way out, come back in, move into the half a Pilates first position, toes up, knees up, hips, stay forward. Oh, I really feel this on the side. Keep my core engaged and stay nice and balanced in my pelvis. And then I'm going to go halfway in and do tiny little pulses. Less is always best. And push out and come back in. Nice.

I’m going to turn onto my back, drop onto my toes, push the carriage all the way out, drop my heels under to get this awesome stretch into the calf, up into the hamstrings and glutes. Feels so good.

Keep the core engage, neutral spine… and I can do some prancing. Bend and straighten one knee, especially after that workout you just did. You fired a lot of glutes and hamstrings doing that work. This is a nice stretch. And I'll bring it back in.

Ok, so I believe any Pilates session is not complete without legs in straps plus they are great exercises for balancing leg muscles and hip muscles. We're going to start with both legs in the straps. So I push the carriage out, I bring one foot into the big loop. I catch myself with this leg so I can bring the other one up and bring that leg in. I’m going to glue the legs together. I'm going to start where my tailbone touches since that keeps the core activated and I'm going to lower the legs down to at least a 45 degree angle and come back up. Breathe out as you lower down. Breathe in as you come up.

So this is making your hamstrings get a lot stronger as you're stretching them, which is very important for the pelvis area. A lot of times tight hamstrings can create a pull in the pelvis area and cause low back pain.

The main thing, as I go down with the legs, I do not want my back arching, if you find yourself arching in your back, don't go down as low, right? If you can't stay engaged and if you still arch, you might have to drop off a spring, OK? It might be too strong, too heavy of resistance for you. So be mindful of that. You're keeping your neutral spine. No arching. From here can do wonderful things like leg circles, down out to a big circle up to the heavens to meet and down, out, up and around. Work with your breath out through the mouth. In through the nose.

As I work, I'm trying to stabilize my pelvis. It's best to start with small circles, only going out to the width of your shoulders. As you create that stability, then you can make them bigger. The main thing is, as you do this work, you don't want to feel a lot of wobbly going on in the pelvis. That's where you start small. Keep the core engaged. You can always go bigger later. And once we get to the top, we can switch directions. Squeeze those inner thighs. We like to develop our inner thighs in Pilates. It's a great way to get into the pelvic floor and into those low muscles, transverse muscle.

After you've done about six or eight, you can go ahead and come on up. To come out, you want to take one foot off, reach for the bar. Make sure you feel the bar and then the other foot so you don't slam the carriage down. So, since we're working with our pelvis area and balancing it, it's more important to do a single leg work.

For single leg, I need to drop off a spring. The leg circles were a great way to just warm everything up, get those legs working. Single leg is more important because we find out the imbalances, which leg is stronger, which one is weaker. We can work deeper into the hamstrings, all that. So, I'm going to start with my right side and bring that right foot in. I'm going to bring the other leg and tabletop from here. I'm going to lower this leg down. See how it's shaking. It really needs this work. Hamstrings are working. I'm also being mindful of the pelvis.

When you work single leg, a good thing that could happen is this one could fall down right. And drop. So the core engages to keep this pelvis nice and stable as you work. If anything, go less, always less. If you cannot keep stability in this in pelvis area or if you feel arching in your back any of those things. I'm going to hold the leg down here. I'm going to do tiny little circles again. Again, little movements work the small muscle groups. I'm really working on stabilizing my pelvis. I'm drawing in my belly button for that transverse muscle and knitting the ribs together. I'm pulling up that pelvic floor, switching directions, really feeling the glute and hamstring muscles working.

It's harder to stabilize, and that's where the real work happens.  From here, I'm going to bend this knee. The strap should be on the outside of the knee. I'm going straighten the other leg and switch for a single leg stretch. You got both legs moving. Make sure the pelvis stays nice and neutral. You don't want one hip hiking or the other. All this stays nice and stable and aligned. I'm trying to pull this hip down a little bit more than the other one. And then from here, take this leg up, reach for the bar, take that foot off.

So some people might need only the work on one side, which would probably be me, the right, but you can always do it on the other side to keep balance, just maybe less on the side you don't need it. So this comes up in tabletop. This one is really easy for me to do. I'm going to do less if I'm going to do exact same thing. It's actually kind of hard to keep this like up tabletop properly. Hold it down here. Do my little circles. Stabilizing my pelvis, switch directions. And then the fun one is this single leg stretch? Using my core, keeping my pelvis balance, moving parts. Makes it more challenging to stabilize. And then from here, take this leg up, put on the bar, take the strap off.

OK, we're going to move on to some other good things. So we did a lot of work with the hamstrings. We're going to do an exercise called the thigh stretch. This will challenge your core and also give you a nice quad workout. It is actually a quad stretch and we'll get to do a little arm work in this position, too. This is a more advanced version. We are going to be kneeling on this reformer. I suggest you have one red on which will be perfect for the legs. And we're going to kneel on this carriage. Our thighs are going to connect to the shoulder rest. So kneeling is a more advanced exercise for this reformer because you really have to have stability as this carriage moves. So if you feel like this exercise may not be right for you at first, then you might want to skip it just for safety reasons. And I'm going to grab on to the short straps. I'm going to bring my arms up here in this little bicep curl.

Now, just being in this position is kind of like a plank. You really have to stabilize the core, the glutes are engaging, and my thighs are getting stretched. Most of the time we get overworked in our thigh muscles and that can create a pull here, from sitting too much or driving the car. And these muscles, especially the tensor fasciae and the hip flexors, will pull you in this position. So this gives you a chance to open up, it’s an extension and we get to open this up. So we're going to stabilize the arms here as we slowly lower back using your core. And then slowly bring yourself up. Breathe out as you go down. Think of a plank, piece of wood, nice and stable. Try to keep your head in alignment.

Your arms are working, too, but it’s working the pelvis. And you're getting this awesome by stretch now, you can also have some fun if you get better at all this and stay here and do some bicep curls. Maintaining this position in this movement takes lots of core work, lots of glutes, hamstrings. Those quad muscles are really stretching out. And then you can come on up when you're ready. You can do all kinds of arm workouts in this position here, you can do high rows, whatever as you get better. But the main thing is we're balancing the stability of the pelvis area. So that's called thigh stretch.

You can always come down here onto all fours, on hands and knees and do a little cat and cow to stretch everything out and release the back. Everything feels good.

From here, we're going to come down and do rotation. So rotation on the reformer will help balance out the QL muscle. So the QL muscle is here in the back. When one side gets tighter what will happen is these two points will come closer together and then to counterbalance this awkwardness in your body, that's where your hip will move forward. Right. And then you live like this walking around and you don't even realize it. So when you do rotation work on the reformer, you help take that out of your body so you can balance that. Some people might have it on the right side, which would be mine. Other people, it might be on the left. The minute I do this, which is what the QL muscle does, my hip moves forward and now I'm living in this awkward space.

And that's where you have shoulder issues because it does relate to the shoulder. Usually on the other side you would have a shoulder issue. Also, that knee on the same side would have issues. So we always want to try to take out rotations. We can see this in the mirror in your own body. You can work on taking these things out, OK, and balance in this area because that's how you have other issues go on in your body.

So the exercise that we're going to do is to sit here, cross legged. You can do this on the red, that's pretty challenging. More advanced people might like that. I like to do my on the blue. You're going to reach back and grab the back strap, bring it right here in front of you. Make sure it goes right out in front of your chest. And as you twist, you still go right out in front your chest. You don't want to end up doing this. Right. That's not going to serve the purpose. And you're just going to twist breathing. Come to the front.

Most people need this more on one side than the other, which obviously I need this more on the left side because my right side is over activated. And this is actually harder, you can always tell which side you need something more on because it's harder and that's obviously the side you need more. And you can also go into the work by doing tiny little pulses.Less is always harder. Uses the smaller muscle groups. You can always twist, pretend your elbows like the teapot and pour the spout out.

This actually really fires into this back muscle here, the QL, the lats will get work… all these other muscles are getting awesome, great benefits too. All this works with your core. Last one. Beautiful.

And so, of course, it's good to do it on both sides, so I'll quickly do it. I won't need as much on the other side, obviously, so I'll turn around. And this is so easy on the side. You will be able to tell which side is easier and harder. The harder side, you need more. And of course, I want to go into the work, do little pulses. And then I can go in and tip, which I really don't need that at all, because that really makes that side contract more.

So since my right side is more contracted, I'm going to do a stretch for that side. It’s called Mermaid Stretch. You can do it on both sides. I'm going to do it just on my right side. You want to take your shins and line it up with the shoulder rest here. And my hand is going to be on the footbar. And I want to make sure this sit bone stays down. So I'll even pull it down and keep it there as I push out and lift that arm up and over. So this is really stretching out that QL muscle that I need to stretch out and just get a nice stretch. What your body will want to do is pop up, right? So keep that sit bone down. You can even look up to the ceiling, goes deeper into that stretch. Breathe in. And you can always come out, since I don't need as much on the other side, but I could still use it. I'll do this. There's no not much work here because there's no pushing. And then I do one more on the right side, because for me, it feels really good.

The next exercise we're going to do is really important. It is an advance exercise. We are going to be standing on this device. OK, so make sure you feel very solid with your practice. I’m going to lower my bar down. This exercise is called the standing splits. Why this is so important is because it really helps you to fire the muscles in here--- the piriformis, the glutes, the iliacus--- and create balance in your pelvis.

So I'm going to walk around the reformer, so I can safely get on to it. I want to place my foot on the solid part first, and I can even bring my hand on the footbar and lift myself up. So you really want to put your foot onto the solid part of the reformer first, not the part that moves and you are now standing. Some people might get a little dizzy. They have polls that you can purchase that help you balance and bring it here. That will help you do this exercise before you even get started. You should be on one red for this exercise, at least. The less you go in the springs, actually, the harder it gets. There’s many exercises, where the lighter springs are actually more difficult and this is one of them. People think the more springs makes the exercise harder and that's not always the truth. It depends on what you're doing. Before I get moving, I want to line up my big toes, pretend there's a ruler here. I'm going to zip up that pelvic floor, pull in the belly button, hands on your hips if you want or not.

But this actually makes you balance so you're pushing equally on both sides but only one side's moving. OK so if I push too much on this side look how my body moves this way. And so actually this is doing more work, and this is doing less.

If I push more with this side, it really throws you off balance. It's actually hard to do so you just want the stability here. You want to push from both sides equally in standing splits and draw in. There is a lot of inner thigh work here to pull this carriage in. You really see these glute muscles working. The gluteus minimus is firing, my abductors are firing. Both the abductors and the adductors. Adductors take you in abductors take you out. As you pull in, you want to feel that zipping up effect right in the pelvic floor stabilizing. Lots of good work for the pelvis to stabilize this is probably the number one exercise that can help a person stabilize their pelvis. Make sure you're in a neutral spine. If you could see me from the side, that would be the case. You don't want to stick your butt out and do this. Right. That's how it flexes. That's not gonna help you. You don't want to stick your hips forward either. Keep a neutral spine.

You can go out halfway and do little tiny pulses in. Again, little movements are so much more important. I really feel these glute muscles firing. These are a big weak spot. This attachment point of the gluteus minimus and the piriformis. All this back here gets really pulled from sitting too much. They’re weak muscles. This all will strengthen them.

And then one good out. Feels good. Pull it in to come out. Take the foot that's on the carriage back for safety. Then the other one can come off. So, I don't need it as much on the other side but I'm going to do it on the other side. So again this foot goes on the solid part first. I lift myself up and bring the other foot on line my two big toes up and go out and in neutral spine. You can really see my glutes firing back here especially the gluteus minimus. I'm pushing and pulling from both sides equally. One side is not doing more of the work.

So if you work with a trainer or somebody, they should be able to point these things out. But if you work out by yourself on this equipment you really need be focused on these issues because if they're done wrong, they can actually cause worse problems. They can cause more injuries if everything's not aligned. When you do this work. In many videos, you see them doing the work but they don't talk about the alignment and if you're not aware of your own alignment, you’re just gonna keep aggravating the same issues. You just kind of continue to live in the same situation and you're not solving the problem.

So one other thing we're going to do is a great stretch to finish up our session today. It's called Eve's lunge. It should be done every time is my belief. It's a hip flexor stretch and hip flexors are so important because if they're not stretched out they get really tight from sitting too much and then you end up walking around like this. People don't even know they're walking around like this.

I might be over exaggerating, but you can find people out there who walk with a little tilt forward. That's because these hip flexors pull in and then you're like this. It comes from sitting too much or driving too much so we want to open these up.

A good spring to be on is just a red. You can always do others spring settings. What I'm suggesting is what's good for my body and usually the average of everybody. You may be different and that's fine. You can experiment with that. It’s your workout.

The foot comes onto the shoulder rest, the knee comes onto the carriage, the standing foot goes as far forward as possible. Most people start with that knee bent. As you push up, the hip flexor pulls down into the well. You really feel these glutes are firing and you can feel the stretch. Make sure you're not up into your shoulders. Keep your shoulders down and back.

So once you get here to take this deeper. If you start straightening this leg, you'll stretch into the hamstrings and the standing leg. And this is an awesome stretch. Should be done every time. Everybody needs us.

Just hold it because it is a stretch. Just breathe. There's no movement involved in stretching. At least three to five good breaths is good. If you even want go deeper, you can lift your toes up. That takes you deeper. You can always hold longer.

I’m going to bring it in and head over to the other side because that's the side I need it more on. Again, your foot is on the shoulder rest, your knees is on the carriage, the other foot is as far forward as possible. Most people start with that knee bent. As you push back, drop this hip into the well.

This is what I need a lot. I can also make sure my heel is straight. Some people heels are out here or this way. That's not going to help you. Heel straight keeps the alignment a little bit more. If you notice, I have this hip that wants to lift out. I need to pull it back in and then I drop down deeper and of course I can straighten the knee to go deeper with my toe even if I want.

Oh it feels so good on this side. This side. I need this a little bit longer. I'm gonna just hold it here for a second longer, if you don't mind.

I'm ready. Release. Come on off the carriage. Do one good stand up stretch. And I'll do a nice roll down, chin to the chest, rib cage is pulled in, belly button pulls in. Grab on to shins, toes, feet, wherever you can grab on with straight legs. I can do a little cat and cow here. I'm getting a hamstring stretch, releasing the back. And then I want to go into a cat as deep as I can, pulling that belly button in and slowly come on up, squeezing the glutes, pushing the hips forward, breathing out. All the way up, a little backbend… and the hand come to the heart. And I had a great workout-- full body, actually --with the focus of the pelvis area. Thank you for joining me.

Can't wait till you get on your reformer and get to work!

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