Try this simple sequence for a scapular stability and an upper limb focus in your Pilates classes with one of our favourite Pilates props, a simple piece of theraband. You can vary the resistance of the band to suit the needs of your clients.
Standing on the middle of the band, so it’s well secured under your feet, take an end of the band in each hand. Keeping the crown of your head reaching tall, elevate both scapulae against the resistance of the band on the outward breath and release back to your start position with control on the inhalation. This exercise activates upper traps – hugely important in upward rotation of the scapulae throughout normal, healthy glenohumeral rhythm. Often labelled a problem muscle, many people focus on releasing tightness in their traps where in reality, might actually need to be strengthening this muscle…
Moving onto deltoids – set the scapulae and abduct the shoulders maintaining arms alignment in the scaption plane. Can be done bilaterally as filmed, or try alternating sides to incorporate slightly more oblique activation. Slightly bend the elbows to reduce the leverage if it’s feeling too heavy through the shoulders.
Biceps – scapulae set, imagine you are holding a lime between your elbows and waist to keep upper arm still throughout, bend your elbows against the resistance of the band on the outward breath, then release with control. Vary the speed of the movement and try reciprocal arms as a variation.
Come into a lunge stance, with the band under your front foot. Incline your trunk forwards, flexing at the hips. Hold each end of the band and perform a row action, aiming to stay long through the back of the neck throughout. After a few repetitions set the scapulae and extend the shoulders so your upper arms are in line with your trunk, then, once again, imagine holding a lime between each elbow and waist to keep your upper arms still as you extend your elbows against the resistance of the band to activate your triceps. Be aware in this position you are challenging the endurance of your erector spinae as it works isometrically throughout these exercises to maintain your trunk position, so be aware of clients with back issues who may not have this endurance.
From here, maintain the lunge position but return your spine to an upright position for a different version of biceps, this time challenging your glutes and legs while you maintain the lunge position.
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