Our sedentary lifestyle is making for an epidemic of tightness in the front of our bodies - specifically the muscles and fascia that make up the Superficial Front Line (SFL): Anterior Tibialis, Quadriceps, Rectus Abdominis and Sternocleidomastoids).
A tight SFL will pull the front of your body down - looking like you lost the fight against gravity! Bad posture can lead to pain issues....Tightness in SFL will cause
1. Forward head leading to neck pain
2. Depressed chest leading to shoulder pain issues and thoracic outlet syndrome
3. Flexed hips leading to back pain and knee issues
4. Lordosis of the Lumbar Spine
The best way to stretch the SFL is a full Back Bend (think gymnastics) see picture below
However, this can be a difficult or even an impossible position for a lot of people. Subsequent pictures will demonstrate how to modify but still stretch your SFL
Camel Pose is big stretch but not as extreme as a Backward Bend. However, if tightness of the quads and spine is severe, using yoga blocks or the MINIMAX, a Pilates prop known as an arc barrel, is a great option to modify for tightness.
Reclining Buddha is an excellent way to allow gravity to assist with stretching the SFL. The picture below demonstrates how you may use the Pilates prop the MINIMAX to assist with this stretch. Of course, you may use yoga blocks and blankets to achieve a similar stretch.
Flipping the MINIMAX over and bending backwards over this small, lightweight Pilates arc barrel, will allow the entire front of the body to stretch gently. This modification is especially good for individuals with severe tightness and lumbar fusions.
Rocking is a Pilates exercise which stretches the front of your body and strengthens the back of you body. Grab onto your ankles, keep your chest and gaze high and start to rock back and forth. However, if tightness is present, grabbing your ankles may be difficult, in the picture to the right, grabbing onto the webbing of the HANDIBANDS' foot loops (another small piece of Pilates equipment) decreases the amount of range of motion necessary to do this exercise.
Sometimes the exercises we need to do are the ones we tend to avoid....let's make a point to move into extension of the spine, hips and shoulders AND if we cannot then let's modify with small pieces of Pilates equipment...Motion is lotion!
The Superficial Front Line is discussed in more detail in Thomas Meyers' book Anatomy Trains.
The MINIMAX and HANDIBANDS are my patented Pilates props which are designed to be used for home Pilates and also as ways to modify Pilates in the studio. Please reach out with any questions regarding these small pieces of Pilates equipment.