Archive for the ‘Movement Concepts’ Category

21 December

The Pilates T-Spot

       In the Pilates world there are a few spots on the body that we tend to cue a lot and hence have slight abbreviations for them.  One of those body parts in the mid thoracic vertebrae.  You may remember it from and earlier blog on neutral spine.  This mid thoracic area is sometimes referred to as the T-spot, or thoracic spot. 

        It is located just above the xiphoid process or about at level eight of the thoracic vertebrae.  Some Pilates instructors refer to it as having a bullseye on your body.  This is the approximate area of the apex of your thoracic curve.  The thoracic curve is a primary or kyphotic curve.  Basically, this spot should be the furthest posterior or back than all the other thoracic vertebrae.  You can test this by lying down on the floor  on your back and seeing if this part of your spine touches the floor.  If it doesn’t, you may have posturally diminished your thoracic curve or maybe your upper transverse abdominals are weak.

     If the upper transversus abdominals are weak, this area will tend to protrude forward allowing the lower ribs to spread outward as well as forward.  My instructor used to tell us when she saw our ribs protruding forward was that it looked as if we had four breasts.  It made us laugh and we realized it wasn’t a very attractive look.  What it really meant though was that we were not able to move and keep a neutral spine.  Hmmmmmm.

Below are some exercises for working on your T-spot

1.  Modified Abdominal Sensation – If your Transverse Abdominals are weak it is always a great idea to go back to the Abdominal Sensation exercise described in the Trasverses Abdominal section.  Lying on your back with your knees bent and in line with your hips.  Place a hand on you low ribs, or at the T-spot.  Inhale to prepare, and as you exhale, feel the ribs come together and rotate toward your body.  Inhale again, allow your ribs to move up and out, but try not to let them completely release and allow the mid back to leave the floor.  Exhale, focus on drawing the T-spot inward and down to the floor.T Spot exercise 1










2.  Modified Curl Up – Again a similar exercise as the curl up in the Transverses Abdominal section.  Same position on the floor with the knees bent and in line with the hips.  Exhale and curl upward.  Notice the ribs coming together and down.  Inhale, and keep the ribs together and down as you lower the upper body to the floor.  Basically, try not to allow the lower ribs to release from each other and protrude forward and up to the ceiling.T Spot exercise 2










3.  T-Spot Exercise – Same position as the last two exercises.  Arms long, in line with the shoulder girdle and reaching up to the ceiling.  Inhale and allow the arms to move back toward the floor without releasing the T-Spot from the floor.  Exhale, connect the T-Spot to the floor and it will actually help your arms to come back to the beginning position.  Hint: If your arms get past your ears your T-Spot is probably off the floor.T Spot exercise 3_1








T Spot exercise 3_2

14 September

Neutral Spine – It’s all about the bones!

Neutral spine

This is a picture of your spine in a neutral position

Last week we talked about the benefits of a neutral pelvis.  Now we are at the point of discussing a neutral spine.  Are you starting to get that alignment and posture are so important to consider before you start adding resistance to the system.  You Mom was right when she told you to sit up straight or tall.  It really is all about the bones.  By that I mean the alignment of the bones.  When you have the correct alignment every movement becomes easier.

Neutral Spine
Neutral Spine is defined as the position of the spine in order to support the curves of the lumbar, thoracic and cervical spine.  The lumbar starts right on top of the sacrum for five vertebrae (low back), the thoracic are the next twelve vertebrae (mid back), and the cervical are the top seven vertebrae (neck) that connect the spine to the skull.  If you would like more information about your vertebrae and their interaction with the pelvis, skull or each other let me know and I can write something more detailed.  For now all that is necessary to know is that you have a lumbar, thoracic and cervical curve.  These curves act as a spring or rebound system to help disperse forces through your body.  Without these curves, forces would be placed overwhelmingly and consistently in the areas without curve.  Over time this could cause pain and injury.

The picture above shows a spine in a supine position (lying on your back) on the floor.  The points of the spine that will touch the floor in a neutral spine are the pelvis, mid back (around the bra line), and the head.  If those spots touch the floor when you lie down then you are in a neutral spine.  If they do not, place a towel or pillow under the areas that do not touch the floor.  This will begin to give your brain the idea of what it would be like to have a neutral spine.  As time goes by your need for these props will become less and less.

In a sitting or standing position, the neutral spine rule still applies.  If you were to sit or stand up against a wall, your head, mid back and pelvis will touch the wall in a neutral spine.  Yea, try it.  It is amazing what you will begin to find out about how you hold your spine.  During the day when you are not able to stand or sit next to a wall, just remember to stack those dots.  Stack your head, over your mid back, over your pelvis.  That is an image that will help you keep neutral and out of pain all day long.

6 September

Neutral Pelvis – Week One of Pilates

Week one of our Pilates has come and gone very quickly.  Just a little reminder to what we are working on this week.  We focused mainly on the alignment of your pelvis.  We started with your pelvis because it is the center of your body.  How you hold your pelvis will directly effect your legs, spine and upper body.  So, it is a good place to start. 

If you remember from class, every joint is most efficient if it is in neutral.  Neutral is your home base.  From a neutral position, a joint can move in any direction without much effort.  The problem arises when a particular joint is held in a non neutral position and the brain begins to register that position as home base.  A joint that is not in a neutral position has soft tissue; muscles, ligaments and tendons, pulling on the joint in an imbalanced way.  Over time this situation can cause injury and pain! 

Are you ready to find your neutral pelvis?  Are you trying to find it right now?  Neutral pelvis is where the anterior superior illiac spine is in line with the pubic bone.  In a more colloquial sense think the belly button over the pubic bone.  See the pictures below.

 Neutral Pelvis         Anterior Tilt        Posterior Tilt

Neutral pelvisAnterior pelvisPosterior pelvis







Neutral pelvis is when your belly button is over your pubic bone.  An anterior tilted pelvis is when your pubic bone is behind your belly button, or like a swim suit model.  A posterior tilt is when the pubic bone is in front of the belly button, like a dog with a tail between it’s legs.  Neutral is the position that is the most efficient for whatever movement you want to do.  It is important to note that neutral is a range of motion.  When you find a neutral position it can move, it is not to be held with tension.

These were the exercises that we did in order to practice neutral pelvis.

  1. Pelvic Clock – On your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor.  Rock your pelvis between the belly button and pubic bone.  Stop and align the pubic bone across from the belly button.  Look and see if your belly button is really in line with your pubic bone.  This is to connect the sensation of neutral pelvis versus the reality of neutral pelvis.
  2. Bridge – Starting in the same position and in neutral pelvis.  Roll up your spine one vertebrae at a time and roll down the spine one vertebrae at a time.  Roll down into neutral spine with the belly button in line with the pubic bone.  Look to see that your really are in neutral.
  3. Standing – Place one hand at your belly button and one at your pubic bone.  Rock the pelvic back and forth like you did on the pelvic clock.  Align the belly button over the pubic bone.  Check your alignment in a mirror.
  4. Bonus – Go to a posterior tilt, pubic bone ahead of the belly button and look at your posture.  Go to an anterior tilt, pubic bone behind the belly button, and look at your posture.  What feels most comfortable? 

Interesting, huh?