The Pilates Elephant in the Room – Move of the Month – Apr-17

Each month at Move Move we set ourselves a Move of the Month Challenge. Throughout the month we focus on mastering that move. Sometimes our Move of the Month is just one move, other times it maybe a series of moves. But our aim is to progress in some way.

You’ll be well into the Pilates habit now it’s April so it’s time to have a look at the difference between which muscles stabilise and which muscles mobilise and how the body uses those patterns to move!

There are three classifications of a muscle according to function – local stabilisers, global stabilisers and global mobilisers. A terrific exercise to explore using all three groups is this month’s Move of the Month – The Pilates Elephant! The elephant was named by Joseph Pilates because when you are standing on the reformer bed with your hands on the foot bar and your head is relaxed, the line of your spine looks like an Elephants trunk!

The Elephant uses local stabilisers (muscles are deep and close to the axis of movement – you can’t see these muscles unless we cut you open) like transverse abdominis and the deep pelvic floor to compress the abdomen and stabilise the lower back and pelvis. Then the global stabilisers (some of these you can see, some of these you can’t, but they only move one joint) like rectus abdominis (your six-pack!) and obliques to stabilise you in the bent forward position (a.k.a. flexion). Your global mobilisers (muscles you can see that move more than one joint) in hip extensors such as glute max and your hamstrings take over to press the carriage back and finally your hip flexors such as your quads to bring the carriage in!

So Elephant uses your local stabilisers to pull your tummy in (shh you can’t hear them) and prepare your torso to globally stabilise the pelvis (okay they are just audible in some and getting louder in others) then the global mobilisers take over to hold your body still whilst the limbs move on their own (depending on how much load and which piece of equipment you are on your hamstrings may just about be heard in Geelong!!)!

Elephant is a wonderful way of teaching stability of the lumbo pelvic region whilst the lower limbs are moving … with just a little bit of scapular stability thrown in for good measure!

I wonder how many Elephants there will be in the room this month?

Pilates Elephant

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