Balance point

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Description:
Balance point is an abdominal flexion exercise that uses breathing techniques to enhance the exercise.  You will learn how to contract the retus abdominus while keeping a neutral pelvis and a curve in the lumbar spine.  This exercise will also teach how to isometrically contract the rectus abdominus when the pelvis is in a posterior tilt and the lumbar spine is in an imprinted position. 
Set up:
  • Lie on your back with your spine in a neutral position.
  • Place straight arms next to your side, palms facing down.
  • Have your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
Action:

Level 1:

  • Once in position, place your tongue behind your top teeth. Take an inhale through your nose to prepare.
  • Simultaneously exhale through your nose as you energize your pelvic floor and nod your chin towards your chest. Let your head slide on the floor to stretch the back of your neck. Continue to lift your head and shoulder blades off the ground. Your chin should not touch your chest but be positioned like you are going to hold a golf ball between your chin and chest.
  • Maintain a neutral position in your lumbar spine and pelvis. Do not tuck your tail or imprint your lumbar spine.
  • On your next inhale begin pumping your arms about 2 inches up and down like you are patting the top of water.
  • You will slowly inhale for five beats and slowly exhale for five beats until you reach 100 beats. (Use your fingers to count)
  • Upon completion stop beating arms and place slowly place your head on the ground.

Level 2:

  • As you become more proficient at the exercise you can begin to lift your feet off the ground. Start at a table top position with feet lifted off the ground the knees bent at a 90° angle with your body.
  • Maintain this posture until you are able to do 100 beats without losing your neutral spine.
    • The next level will have you with straight legs at 90° perpendicular with your body.

Level 3:

      • Begin to lover the legs towards the ground to increase the challenge of this level. You can lower the legs straight to a 45° angle and maintain your neutral spine.

Level 4:

    • To increase to an advanced level your legs will be hovering above the ground about 2 inches while you maintain a neutral spine. You must find a balance between your head and legs so that your lower rib cage does not leave the ground and your lumbar spine stays off the ground and the pelvis remains neutral.
  • To add a challenge with the breathing you can do a percussive breath where you sip the air in with five short breaths and exhale the air out with five short breaths.

 

Warnings/Contraindications:
The hundreds are always challenging no matter your level of fitness. Choose what is best for you that day. Exercise is about finding what works for you and what your body needs. If you have neck strain or injury you can still increase your abdominal strength by keeping your head on the ground. Do the exercise as performed earlier just with your head on the ground.  If you are unable to maintain a neutral position in your spine or do an abdominal crunch while performing the exercise please return to “how to” do a crunch, pelvic tilts, pelvic floor engagement and Kegel exercises. 
What you may feel:
Neck strain is common when learning how to do this exercise. You can help alleviate strain on the back of your neck by placing the tip of your tongue behind your top front teeth. This will help activate your neck flexors and relax your neck extensors. 
 
    • Do not let your head hang behind your shoulders. If your neck stays in a straight position you will feel neck strain. An adult head can weigh around 10 to 11 pounds (4.5 to 5 kg).
      • Make sure your abdominal muscles do not push out like a bread loaf. Let your transverse abdominus pull tight like a corset to stabilize your spine and keep your organs from pushing against your abdominal wall. This engagement will allow you to maintain a neutral position and create a flat abdomen.

 

 

Technique/Cues:
 
      • Maintain a neutral position in your spine with your lumbar curve off the mat your tail bone on the mat.

 

      • Maintain your crunched position by keeping your rectus abdominus in an isometric contraction.

 

      • Try to keep the tips of your shoulder blades just off the mat as you beat your arms up and down.

 

      • Breathe with smooth inhales and exhales, five beats per inhale and per exhale.

 

Try the following technique if you are looking to focus on learning how to maintain a neutral spine while doing an abdominal crunch:

      • Begin by laying on your back with your feet on the ground.

 

      • Place your hands underneath your lumbar spine as you do your upper abdominal crunch.

 

        • Try to have minimal pressure on your hands as they are under your lumbar spine do not tuck your tail or squeeze your gluteal muscles.

 

        • Repeat the crunches for 10 reps or until you learn how to maintain a neutral lumbar spine and pelvis while doing upper abdominal crunches.

 

 
*** There are many schools of Pilates which have many different techniques and choreographies applied to the same exercises. The information contained within this website by no means is meant to replace the advice, judgment and expertise of a fitness professional. If you are ever unsure about how to perform an exercise contact a fitness professional who can guide you and watch your body move through the exercise. As with all physical activity consult your physician before beginning a regimen, use sound judgment, listen to your body, and know your limits. ***
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May 4, 2015

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