The Silver Lining of Injury: Frog + Leg Circles Edition

The Silver Lining of Injury: Frog + Leg Circles Edition

If you've got a keen eye on your Instagram feed you may know I broke a little bone in my foot a few months ago.

Rushing around my home, alas I was a victim of my own powerful stride and I smacked the hell out of my foot on a solid piece of furniture.


Please note the furniture has since been rearranged…

I thought I had learned my lesson over a year ago.

In life and in Pilates, repetition is the mother of all learning.

The Magic is in the System

The Silver Lining of Injury: Frog + Leg Circles Edition

My injury demanded I omit exercises done on the ball of the foot for several weeks.

I kept hoping thinking I could skip Long Spine Massage for whatever reason. Probably because it's challenging and I don't love it, but alas, anything in the straps felt perfectly fine.

What a luxury to have a full Pilates studio at my disposal to return from an injury. I am also an expert at working around foot injuries now…woo hoo!

What you don't like you do twice

In my Monday lessons with Karen Frischmann, I predominately work on the Reformer. It's one of my favorite workouts. Now, forced to omit exercises to accommodate my injury, imagine how much time I had left in the hour.


Plenty of time to work toward more strength and connection in the exercises I don't do well.

Womp womp…

Enter the Leg Spring Series…done anywhere.

Cultivating Frog and Leg Circles

The Silver Lining of Injury: Frog + Leg Circles Edition

Just between you and me, I have strong, eager leg muscles. They just want to do everything.

With the help of Frog and Circles on the Reformer, the Spine Corrector and my friend the 80″ Gratz Reformer I am working toward a full body workout here as well as in a host of related exercises: Short Spine Massage, Long Spine Massage and the High Frog.

Don't Settle for 1-way Stretch. You deserve 2.

The Pilates exercises done lying down can be deceptive.

Sure we gladly use our scoop and lift if we are sitting up on the Short Box, but it can be challenging to find our oppositional reach when we're so comfortable and reclined.

Whatever shall we do?

Remember what we do at first lying down, you can bet Joe Pilates will expect us to perform the same tasks and more sitting up, upside down, on one leg, while twisting, etc…

Short Spine Massage

Short Spine Massage takes us from the very same starting position…

The Silver Lining of Injury: Frog + Leg Circles Edition

to vertical.

The Silver Lining of Injury: Frog + Leg Circles Edition

Clearly we need lift to accomplish this maneuver, so why not go for even more of it before we begin?

Long Spine Massage

Joe Pilates presents same scenario in the Long Spine Massage.

The Silver Lining of Injury: Frog + Leg Circles Edition

Again we begin lying down and our lift must take us up and off the carriage.

Use your in-and-up lift to oppose the reach of the lower body and get a glimpse of the “massage” the name promises.

High Frog

The Silver Lining of Injury: Frog + Leg Circles Edition

High Frog is an advanced exercise that follows Short Spine Massage.

It's really the same Frog we did lying down.

It's also the Tower exercise we do on the Cadillac (This one I had to leave out as well, so I was very appreciative of my quality High Frog time). But jus' sayin'.

The Silver Lining of Injury: Frog + Leg Circles Edition

What a system!

Use your lift well in the Frog lying down and create a strong, lifted and successful High Frog.

Speaking of the Cadillac…

With my new skills of lift in the Frog and Circles on the Reformer imagine my surprise when I revisited the Leg Circles on the Cadillac.

Now on a stable surface instead of a moving carriage, the lift remains the same.

Of course.

I just may learn to love the Leg Spring Series after all…

As with any injury, we always learn more about or beloved Pilates Method and more about our own body's experience of the exercises.

It almost makes it worth breaking the little bone in my foot.

Almost 🙂

Enjoy this short video tutorial. 

Leave your questions and share your successes in a comment below.

Thanks for watching!

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  1. Sweet tootorial! You have such very beautiful lift! I have noticed that since you taught me the “lift so much your legs just go out” on Frog/Circles it has not only completely changed the way the exercise feels but how it carries through and applies to all others (Double Leg Pull! Leg Springs!). I noticed when you do Short Spine you are so lifted your knees never go past parallel when you bend them to start rolling down! Many times, I have found my knees by my ears…because yup, lost the lift and …collapse happened (just like Roll Up). I have so much to keep working on; exciting! You.Never.Get.Bored.With.Pilates. Thanks so much and see you soon! x

    • Thanks Corrie! You speak the truth – there are so many exciting discoveries to be had in Pilates! I find that the lift in one exercise – in our example Frog and Circles – can truly transform all the other ones. I just keep finding a different touchstone exercise that’s helpful right now – and since all the exercises are the same – any one you choose can be super helpful with all the others – yay! Looking forward to seeing you on Friday – I have a secret to share with you…not really a secret, it just makes me smile and I think you will too 🙂 xox Happy workouts until we meet again…

  2. Pam Buono says

    Hi Andrea,
    Sorry to hear about your foot…not sure when that happened. I also have a foot issue…stress fracture of the left metatarsal outside, probably as a result of knee arthroscopy a few months ago. I am a Mat Pilates instructor in Florida…any suggestions for ME? I am also confined to a walking boot (not for long, she said!). I enjoy your posts even though we are not equipped with apparatus at our facility.

    • Hi Pam,

      So sorry to hear about your foot injury. I was most thrilled to have all the Mat exercises with me that I used for my workouts exclusively for the first couple weeks. I had a little orthopedic shoe that I wore for 4 weeks, but a client of mine was in a boot also with a stress fracture – and she didn’t have the boot for very long at all.

      I was concerned about my back because initially my foot injury made me walk crooked and limpy – so I really enjoyed my workouts on my Mat. I would do every exercise you can that doesn’t involve putting weight on the foot. I omitted the starting standing and descending to the Mat at the beginning for a while. I just got right down and did the Hundred.

      Initially I did the following workout:

      Hundred, Roll Up, Roll Over, One Leg Circle, Roll Like a Ball, Series of 5 (single leg pull, double leg pull, scissors, lower lift and criss cross), Spine Stretch Forward, Open Leg Rocker, Corkscrew, Saw, Swan (I did not Dive at first), Single Leg Kick, Double Leg Kick, Neck Pull, High Scissors, High Bicycle, Spine Twist, Jackknife, Side Kicks (I kept my outer left foot off the Mat so it did not have pressure, my mat is raised a few inches off the ground – if the side of the foot feels pressure leave it out), Teaser, Hip Circles, Swimming, Side Kicks Kneeling, Boomerang, Seal, Control Balance.

      All of these exercises did not impact my injury. Even if you only do a portion of this list with regularity it would be beneficial. If you have at least some of these to care for the rest of you while your foot heals, you will be golden! I wish you well and a speedy recovery and if you have any other questions or concerns or want to have further input where I get to see you moving via Skype, just let me know 🙂

      Thank you so much for reading and for sharing your thoughts and questions here.

  3. Wow! Such a great post Andrea.
    I was wondering if doing the Frog and circle in the mat is a good idea? though i guess that i wouldn’t produce the same results when done in the reformer because of the straps?

    • Thank you so much Justine!

      You are right that Frog and Circles on the Reformer assist us and we benefit from the use of the straps. However, be sure and take your mad Frog/Circles skills with you when you get on the Mat. Pretty much every time we extend our legs out away from our body – think Double Leg Pull, Teaser, etc… we are essentially doing Frog. We have been trained well by the Reformer to work well with no apparatus on the Mat – brilliant! So don’t worry. It’s in there – and we also have the One Leg Circle and the Corkscrew (which is a kind of 2 leg circle of a different kind). Hope you are well and thanks again for reading and sharing your thoughts here. xo

      • Thank you so much for answering Andrea,
        I have learned so much from you and your wonderful blog. I have been doing great these days too, many thanks for the inputs :))
        Keep up the genius work!

  4. Alessandra says

    Thanks for another thought provoking post and another video tutorial!! Coincidentally, I had recently been thinking about my apparent lack of oppositional lift…(#pilatesgeek) particularly, for me, when I’m sitting, as I have super eager shoulders, that want to do all the lifting!!!
    This, I have concluded, might be why I find the short box (yes, I’m working on it) so tricky…. So your lovely video was perfectly timed for me!! I got to look at lift with you, and practice two of my favorite exercises frogs and circles!! Yay and yay again!! Loved your set up for frog, I followed your instructions to scoop madly, until bingo, I felt activity in my legs !! Could this be the lift I was missing! When I tried it out on the short box, it definitely made a big difference!! Yay again!! ???????????????????? still some way to go, but am feeling lots more pilates excitement ahead!!
    Thanks for your generous teaching Andrea????

    Until we meet in a few weeks…#rockon xoxo

    • Hi Alessandra 🙂

      I feel you on the over-eager shoulders – and now that you bring it up – that is one of the wonderful aspects of finding the lift lying down as we did with Frog – the shoulders want to help a bit less here – good news! It’s really magical isn’t it – if you scoop enough something starts to happen in your butt – LOL – And yes I bet it will make a big difference in your Short Box, where we can never lift enough! Keep up the good work, I thank you for the kind words and yes – I am excited to see you very soon!!! xox

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