My son, César Sampson, sent me the video below of himself doing the Pilates Powerhouse series. He asked me if I could write a commentary on it for Facebook.
After watching the video, I thought to myself …. does he know what he is asking me to do?… either he is a true warrior or a true masochist!?!? He didn’t even want to read my analysis?!?? All I can say is “thumbs up for my son César and his remarkably selfless gesture”. Perhaps he had the following quote from an African master teacher in mind when he made his decision:
Sometimes it is better to submit to the will of others than to obey your own self-will.
… and wanted to remind us with his selfless act. Brave, brave, my son!
Anyway, let’s start with the analysis. As Pilates aficionados know, the Powerhouse Series consists of 5 exercises, and so that I don’t overwhelm you with the in-depth analysis of all 5 exercises at once, I will post the analysis of one exercise each week.
Here is already the analysis of the 1st exercise of the Pilates Powerhouse Series – the Single Leg Stretch – performed by my son César.
The toned-down Powerhouse Series
Let’s watch César’s video of the Powerhouse Series right below. From 00:11 he starts with the Single Leg Stretch;) Click, sit back and enjoy!
Single Leg Stretch – The facts
Fundamental error: No neutral pelvic position. Because he does not bring his pelvis into a neutral position before lifting his knees, the weight of his legs collapses towards his chest instead of being divided between the floor (foundation), iliopsoas (leg control) and powerhouse (pelvic stabilistaion).
First consequential fault: Because his pelvis is not in neutral position, he cannot establish the correct pelvis to chest connection which he needs for the flexion. The goal of the correct pelvis to chest connection is for the head and chest to lift reflectively off the floor. Flexion, by the way, should be brought about by the down pull of the shoulder girdle stabilisers and the up pull of the powerhouse (DMCS). Nevertheless, although his starting position is unfavourable, he works to facilitate the flexion of his upper body by consciously organising his head and shoulder girdle.
Second consequential error: Because his pelvis is not in a neutral position, he uses his hip joint instead of his powerhouse (DMCS) and iliopsoas when alternately extending and bending his legs. We can observe this by watching his heels collapse when he bends his knees towards his chest.
My conclusion: Missing axial extension
Before and during the movement, there is a lack of axial extension and the opposing work of the powerhouse (DMCS) and shoulder girdle when bending and extending the legs.
For comparison, I show you below a video of me performing the Pilates Powerhouse Series. It starts with the Single Leg Stretch 😉 Click and enjoy!
The enriched Powerhouse Series
Awareness vs. right-wrong
Last but not least, let me bring a pinch of awareness to my analysis. The analysis of my son’s interpretation of the Powerhouse Series is NOT based on a right-wrong dichotomy, but from the perspective of awareness and functionality.
By this I mean
- How many of the above ‘mistakes’ is César aware of when he does the exercises?
- Can he transfer one position to another position? For example, can he go from the Single Leg Stretch position to the Side Kick position without modification, compensation and adjustment?
Subjectively, who can say that the way my son does the Pilates Powerhouse Series is wrong? I am pretty sure there are many people, inside and outside the Pilates community, who claim to ‘feel good’ while doing the Powerhouse Series the way my son does it. I’m sure there are people who even say their back pain has improved as a result.
That may well be the case but the question is: Do they know what they are doing? Are they aware of what they are doing? Could they do the exercises in a different way if they wanted to? Could you? It is essential that we keep asking ourselves: Are we doing the exercises with awareness or out of habit? Because …
Awareness (aka will) and functionality are based on “I have a choice”. Habit (aka self-will) and pressure are based on “I feel this way”.
Back to my son César: Correcting the above mistakes will give my son more choices in his movements. The way he shows the exercises in the video gives him little freedom of movement.
I’ll close the case for today. See you next week when I analyse how my son performs the Pilates Double Leg Stretch.
Check it & fly with it!
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