Welcome to a new year! I’m so excited to share with you our newest teacher, Jackie Arnold. Jackie comes to Spiral Spine Pilates with a decade of experience working with clients of all ages and body types. Early in her career, she focused on helping clients improve posture, strengthen muscles, and alleviate back and joint pain. More recently, after using Pilates to assist her during and after her own pregnancies, she has become passionate about working with pregnant and post-natal women. She enjoys helping them exercise as their body grows and changes, and guiding them postpartum to regain their strength and energy. You can read her full bio on the staff page.
Below, Jackie shares her favorite Pilates exercises that helped her through two pivotal moments in her life: a shoulder impingement and her pregnancies. These exercises will strengthen your shoulders, back, and abs in pregnancy friendly positions.
Over the last decade I have loved working with people to improve posture, strengthen muscles, alleviate pain, and increase mobility through Pilates. I have a right shoulder impingement which frequently causes radiating pain in my neck, upper back, and down my arm. I have had to learn how to strengthen parts of my back and shoulder rotators to alleviate the pain as well as to protect my shoulder function. Many times these exercises involve keeping my arm below a 90 degree angle, which helps target the muscles I need to activate and stabilize.
In addition, over the last five years, I have experienced two healthy pregnancies, births, and recoveries. I found Pilates to be essential in keeping my body mobile and strong throughout my pregnancies, which led to an easier deliveries and recoveries. So many women hear that “you can’t do abdominal work while pregnant.” While it is true that we need to avoid supine flexion (such as traditional crunches), there are still lots of safe ways to work your core muscles.
Below are some exercises that I have loved throughout the years. Some of them target my shoulders and back, and some of them target the abdominals in positions that are pregnancy friendly.
Kneeling Abs Front
I love this exercise because it is abdominal work that simultaneously works my shoulder girdle. You start with your hands on the footplate of the Reformer and your knees underneath your hips. Gently press the carriage back by extending the knees and hips while keeping your shoulders stacked over your hands. Then pull the carriage in by flexing at your knees and hips. Your back and arms will feel the stabilizing work to keep the upper body in position, while your abs are getting a good workout too. I also love all the fun variations of this exercise. A favorite variation is to place the rib cage in lateral flexion with your hands on the side of the Reformer.
This exercise helps me strengthen my back and shoulders without reaching my arms over a 90 degree angle. Lay prone on your long box on the Reformer and grab the rope portion of your straps above your loops. Pull your straps towards the floor then back to your legs. You can also open your arms to a T position, then pull back to your hips or do tricep presses when your hands are down by your legs. For people who cannot lie on their stomachs, this exercise can be done one arm at a time while kneeling on all fours without the long box.
Reverse Swan on the Chair
I love that this exercise helps work my core while seated and also helps open up the front of my chest and shoulders. For a beginner client or a pregnant woman, I like to add a large ball under the feet so that they can rest their legs and focus on their core.
As you sit on the center of the seat of the Chair reach both hands back to the peddle. Press the peddle down several inches while keeping your elbows straight, then engage your abs deeply as you sit up into the starting position.
Pilates has been so versatile in helping me in my life. I am excited to share this passion and work with you at Spiral Spine Pilates soon.
Jackie will be in the studios on Wednesdays starting later this month and can’t wait to meet all of our wonderful clients.