Flexion in Pilates
Flexion is movement that decreases the angle of articulating bones. In Pilates flexion is a movement pathway we use frequently and can often be associated with bending.
Let’s talk about the spine! The spine is made up a series of vertebrae and intervertebral discs that excellently enables movement in the sagittal plane and specifically in flexion and extension. To describe flexion of the spine: narrowing of the distance between the head and the pubic bone or creating a C curve with the spine.
Flexion can also occur to isolate movements of the spine. A Chest Lift for example uses thoracic flexion to curl the upper back off the floor and activate the upper abdominals, whilst the lower abdominals stabilise and prohibit movement of the pelvis. A chest lift appears in hundreds of different ways in a Pilates studio class and relies of abdominal strength and the range of movement the upper back can perform forwards.
Lumbar flexion or flexion in the lower back is often referred to in your Pilates class as imprinting, tailbone between the thighs, rounding the lower back, curling the tailbone between your legs etc. There are some beautiful lumbar flexion exercises such as the Assisted Roll Up or Rolling Like a Ball on the Mat. The Reformer exercises include Roll Down Series, Short Spine and many more.
Flexion can be a feared movement by many people as the spine is in a compressed position. Without correct abdominal connection and axial length the downward pressure of the bones on top of one another can be potentiality injurious. However this is a natural movement of the spine. We flex our spine when we bend down to pick something off the floor, to hug our grandchildren and to retrieve something from the kitchen in the bottom draw. Flexion doesn’t need to be a feared movement, with correct alignment we should all be able to safely bend our spine. Of course there are exceptions, people with osteoporosis, pregnant clients or clients disc pathologies flexion is a contraindication or precaution. The best thing you can do is to learn how to move your spine safely and without pain, that’s why we go to Pilates!