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Can you wake up your muscles to work for you?

Updated: Oct 15, 2020

Catching up with my pilates instructor buddies is one of the monthly highlights for me. What do we usually eat when we get together? It's nothing near vegan, paleo or whatever that is trending. It's a table of teenager food – house pour and pizza, fries and calamari! Yummy!

Yes, we instructors eat a lot. But we work out a lot too. Isn't that the beauty of life?

Not only do we talk about anything under the sun, we often chat about what's hard to teach.

Guess what's one of the hardest things to teach?

Bingo! It’s neutral pelvis – it’s getting you to understand what neutral means for your body and moving with a neutral pelvis.

As easy as it sounds with pelvic tilt, and the ubiquitous cues of warming up into "Michael Jackson" (posterior pelvic tilt) and "Jennifer Lopez" (anterior pelvic tilt) postures, really, it takes more than just effort to maintain neutral when standing. It takes mindful movement to send your tailbone down, giving your bum bum a squeeze while engaging your core to maintain neutral; at the same time, you draw down your shoulder blades as you resist leaning forward or bending your knees.

Sounds like a lot going on all at the same time? Just like an apple a day drives the doctor away, it helps when you practise, practise and practise.

But why are pilates instructors so "anal" about neutral pelvis?

Neutral position is the most shock-absorbing position for movement. I am so conscious of how my clients need to work their core together with their glutes to protect their lumbar spine (lower back).

Occasionally I'd spot some clients walking with a super anterior tilt, it just sent alarm bells on what that would do to their lower backs. I'd chat with them to see if they felt any pain and most would be like "isn't lower back pain normal at this age?" And these clients are not even considered "seniors" (individuals aged 50 and above are categorically the seniors in Singapore). Can you imagine when age catches up? How would you be 10 years on from now?

Working on the muscles that you have not been activating takes time. Realising that every small step you take to work on these muscle groups – muscles that you hardly use – will cumulatively wake them up to work together for you.

You may be wondering if such efforts would really pay off one day. Let me share a story of my client.

She falls in the seniors category, yet she has not let age become a barrier. Picking up pilates for the first time, she practises everyday what she has learnt from our weekly one-on-one sessions. We worked together – just like a partnership – with a functional aim to reduce pain in her lower back, especially when she got out from the car.

Today, I am so proud of her. Pain is not only reduced, she is able to move into neutral pelvis and activate the specific muscles as she moves! And most importantly, she recognises it takes effort in the journey together!

We are blessed and endowed with muscles around our skeletal structure to support our spine and give us movement.

Wake them up to work for you!


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