Introduction to Pilates for People with Spinal Fusions

Focus Exercise Video SF: Side Lying Series

This video is one of the focus exercises for the week.  Try to repeat it 2-3 times before our next class together.

Side Lying Pilates variations are unlimited and an excellent choice for people with spinal fusions. This video includes the following variations: up and down (hip abduction), kicking, and circles. Side Lying is particularly helpful when lying on the same side as the lumbar or thoraco-lumbar curve (low back curve, convexity, or prominence). The lumbar concavity or area of collapse will be up towards the ceiling and work eccentrically against gravity as the leg moves independently (disassociates) from the pelvis and spine. This movement can help restore muscular balance to the low back for those with shorter fusions as well as for those with fusions to the sacrum and pelvis.

0:00 Introduction
0:25 Modifications for spinal fusions
2:20 Concavity expansion
4:34 Hip abduction variation
5:55 Kicking variation
6:53 Circles variation
7:45 Second side
10:45 Closing

A few helpful modification for people with spinal fusions:
⭐ Lie all the way down on the side body. Traditionally, Side Lying is taught propped up on the forearm, which brings the spine out of neutral and into a side bend or later flexion.
⭐ Approach the head, neck, and shoulders alignment mindfully. Use a prop to support your head that is the same width as from the ear to the outer shoulder. Try to keep the neck neutral as opposed to dropping the head towards the floor or ceiling.
⭐ Place a moon box or block on the medium height under your top foot.
⭐ Try to line up the back of the heads, shoulders, pelvis, and feet when you lie down. It’s as though you’re standing but on your side!
⭐ If you have a left lumbar or thoraco-lumbar curve, start lying on the left side. If you have a right lumbar or thoraco-lumbar curve, start lying on the right side.
⭐ On the first side, take time to elongate, expand, and bring awareness to the lumbar concavity in a very 3-dimensional way. Use the breath to help expand the concavity on the inhale and then try to keep the expansion as you exhale.
⭐ Stabilize the spine and pelvis as the leg moves independently. Keep the areas of collapse expanded at all times.
⭐ Build slowly. Work on up and down (hip abduction) for a few weeks or a month before moving on to kicking and circles. There’s no rush!

Side Lying crosses over between different modalities and approaches to working with scoliosis. Schroth physical therapy has a side lying correction and many consider it best for promoting frontal plane correction. Elise Miller Browning also includes a side lying asana, Anantasana, in her Yoga for Scoliosis book.

Inspiring health and happiness!

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