Upside Down Exercises can be a Pain in the Neck: Here’s How to Fix It.

Control Balance on the Reformer

Hello there!

A big thank you to Fernando Albernaz and Natanael Arruda for inviting me to participate in their Return to Contrologia project yesterday.

It was a pleasure to speak with you! Extra thanks to Pilates bestie, Daniela Escobar, for translating.

I really like pretending I understand Portuguese tho…

Check out the recording on their IG.

2-way Stretch: It's a Thing.

And Now it's Upside-Down.

Overhead on the Reformer

Earlier this year I wrote a post on how to work on the exercises that are upside-down.

Working on the skills that lift you overhead leads to more control in your upside-down exercises.

But how do you control where you end up? Where's the point of balance?

Once you succeed in getting upside-down, you are often confronted with new “Pilates problems.”

The most common Pilates problem in upside-down exercises is rolling over too far and landing on your neck. And while this may not be a painful place to perch at the moment, over time you'll want to refine your skills and find more control.

Who's in charge here anyway, you or the exercise?

Overhead exercises don't have to be a pain in the neck!

In the above photo, I'm not entirely on my neck, but there's another spot in the middle of my back that given time, will prove to be a better landing spot.

Perhaps you too have noticed:

  • inflexibility in the middle of your back that's easy to bypass for a more “stable” spot that's nearly your neck
  • a challenge in connecting all the back of you into one long line

What Luck!

There's a brilliant little fundamental exercise that you'll use to help you stay off your neck.

Can you guess?

Roll Like a Ball

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present the humble Roll Like a Ball.

(and the crowd goes wild)

Use your rolling exercises to equalize your oppositional forces every time you practice. Part of the skill, and charm of your rolling exercises is your coordination of the 2-way stretch in motion.

You could easily rename the rolling exercises. They could all be called Control Balance right?

Equalizing your forces is a requirement of all the Pilates rolling exercises.

Lose your lower body and you'll not make it over.

Lose your lift and you'll never return.

What happens to your lift when you're upside-down? In the Control Balance, for example.

It's still there right? Or have you collapsed onto yourself never to return?

What would happen if you turned your Control Balance into a scissor-y rolling exercise for a moment?

Hang on, that sounds like my kind of fun…

(gets on floor, rolls around)

Yup. It was fun. Give it a try!

Hang onto your lift when you're upright and you'll never drop yourself onto your neck.

Can Roll Like a Ball work even more magic?

You bet!

Tendon Stretch on the Reformer

Tendon Stretch on the Reformer

How will that carriage ever come back?

And what does this have to do with being upside down on your neck?

Look familiar?

Upside Down Tendon Stretch on the Reformer

Now your “rolling exercise” is rolling on the ceiling.

Imagine.

This one won't land you on your neck, but your lower body reach could take that carriage out there, never to return. Add an equal dose of lift to balance you out and you'll have better luck closing the spring.

I could drop my head down a bit… but keep your lift upside-down and lift your carriage home.

Try my hack and see how you do.

What other #PilatesProblems can you fix with Roll Like a Ball?

Share your success in a comment below.

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