Pacific NW Pilates blog

Exercise Modification Keeps Your Body Surprised

by Trixie on November 12, 2014

” … modifications enable students to get more — not less — benefit 
out of Pilates mat exercise.”

— Leslie Braverman

It has been my experience that students — when introduced to a mat work exercise modification move or prop — will resist. Instead, they try to muster strength for the original version of the exercise even if they are unable to do it well. Many of us are hardwired to believe that doing a partially modified rendition of an exercise is simply not good enough, and it will be better to force doing the “real” thing versus an alternate option. 

Modifications = more benefit

The truth about modifications is that they often enable students to get more — not less — benefit out of the matwork exercise.

In fact, repeating the same exercise with a different stimulus can help you feel muscles working in a different way.  Props and exercise modifications provide variety, protect from injury, and keep your neuromotor system “surprised.” That helps your body to continue to change.

Three ideas to help put the “surprise” in your Pilates workout

Leslierollinglikeaball

1. Add a ball to Rolling Like a Ball

Place a ball between your calves and thighs while you do the Pilates exercise called Rolling Like a Ball. This tactic may help you to control the movement more with your abdominals, and avoid the heave-ho with your legs.

By squeezing the ball with the back of your legs, you encourage your body to remain in one tight ball shape.

Leslierollinglikeaball2

2. Add a resistance band to side-lying exercises

Lesliesideleglift

The resistance band provides feedback so you can control the movement better, stabilize your back more easily, and use the correct muscles (hip abductors) to lift your leg.

Lesliesideleglift2

3. Lift your saw

Lesliesaw

The exercise “saw” combines spinal flexion and rotation. When combined, these motions can create a lot of compression in your back.

Sitting on a small prop or support will enable your back to start in an optimal position before you begin the exercise and allow you to create the length and stretch you desire, without straining your joints.

Lesliesawonprop

PNWP’s certified Pilates movement teachers welcome new clients. They will make mat exercise modifications available to you, integrating their training and what they observe in your posture, and your particular abilities and needs.

There is a natural progression in learning movement. Take advantage of all your options. And remember, your body loves to be surprised!

— Leslie Braverman

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