This month, I’m joining Pilates enthusiasts around the world in celebrating Joe Pilates’ mat exercises as he discussed them in his groundbreaking book “Return to Life through Contrology”— we call it March MATness. On March 5th, we’re all posting the 5th exercise Rolling Back (aka Rolling like a Ball.)

The Basics:

  • While seated, use your abdominal scoop to tuck your knees in close to your chest.  Tuck your chin in as well.
  • Float your feet off the mat and roll back as shown in my photo. Stay off your neck; I’m only rolling to the tops of my shoulder blades.
  • Roll back to your start position. Try to stop for a beat at the top, without putting your feet down.

I LOVE this one! It uses all the same muscles as a “sit up,” but it’s waaay more fun. BONUS: if you’re on a properly padded mat, you get a lovely massage on your spine at the same time.

Pilates Magic Happening here:

  • Super Hero Shoulders: to help keep tension out of my neck, I’m drawing my armpits toward my hips. Say it in your head: pits toward hips, pits toward hips.
  • Distributed Scoop: see how the arch of my back is evenly distributed? There are no “jagged edges” where one point of my spine is super-bent. This is happening because I’m scooping up all along my abdominal wall, not just in one spot. It’s also happening because….I don’t slouch or hold my head forward in daily life.  (Seriously, you should see how upright I am while typing right now. I look like a school marm. No worries, I have other bad habits.)
  • Control- Freak: why stop for a beat at the top of each roll? To prove that you can! There is no “momentum muscle,” right? Stopping for a beat challenges you to control the movement using your Scoop.

Teaching Tips:

  • Are your clients getting stuck in ‘flat spots’ along their spine?  Unless they’ve got fused joints, this can be smoothed out with work. Encourage them to scoop the entire abdominal wall, particularly on the opposite side from a flat spot.
  • Is there a ‘flat spot’ at the bottom tips of the shoulder blades or in the upper back? Take a peek at their upright posture — this is common in clients who have a bit of ‘forward head posture.’ That means it’s time to call the posture police — computer work and driving position are common causes.
  • Look for over-exuberant chin tucking — particularly in forward head posture clients. I like to see the curve of the neck follow the curve of the rest of the spine. My chin isn’t literally touching my chest.
  • Optional Add-on: sometimes, toys can tease muscles into bringing a little extra to the party. Try adding a magic circle or squishy ball between the knees or feet. Squeeze it, and you’ll kick in the Power Leg concept. (It’s never just about your legs — the Power Leg is the gateway to the lower abs!)

Want to follow on Facebook or other social media? Look for the tags #marchmatness2017 #rollingback #EffortlessMovementPilates