Hello, my name is Royce. I’m coming up to 78 next month and I was telling Kath how good Pilates is for me. Particularly after I had been to the osteopath this week where I’ve been going to for 15 years. They couldn’t believe how much I had come on, in the 12 years I’ve been coming to Aligned for Life. I come here twice a week and I’ve found it to be excellent for me. I am ageing like everyone else, but I am more flexible and enjoying life equally as much as I did 12 years ago and that’s a pretty big statement, because we do age and as long as I keep fit, that’s pretty good. To me, the movement I have attained while coming has been really good.
“I am ageing like everyone else, but I am more flexible and enjoying life equally as much as I did 12 years ago and that’s a pretty big statement.”
Introduction – Meet Royce
My osteopath can’t believe how well my back moves now, compared to when I first started seeing him 15 years ago. It’s more flexible now than it was back then. Right back in my school days, the school doctor picked up that I had a ‘bent’ upper back. Luckily, I was very active – I rowed, played footy and ran up until I was 55yrs. But my work of carrying heavy sample bags and a decrease in activity caught up with me. By 65yrs of age, when I first started Pilates, I couldn’t even lay on my back. It was quite bent, and I was limited with my movement. But with constant care twice a week for 12 years, it’s been really good. I’m doing things now, that I never thought I’d be able to do. So, I have full appreciation of Pilates and Aligned for Life Pilates.
Seated Ball Thoracic Extension
This is a fabulous exercise for everybody, but especially for those needing supported thoracic spine mobility. We have adapted this exercise by using a box to sit on, to save Royce sitting on the floor. Importantly, his head and therefore neck alignment is supported by his hands so we can isolate the upper back and not accentuate the curve in the back of the neck. The inflated ball then provides a soft nurturing environment for the upper back spinal joints to gently release and move into extension.
Exercise Execution – Inhale to slowly reach over the ball. Exhale to slowly return to start
Teaching tips – use the hands to support a lengthened back of neck and use your breastbone to guide your movement. Remember this alignment to assist you with the next exercise.
Seated Spine Stretch with the Ball
Once again, we use a box to sit on, to save Royce sitting on the floor. Even though the upper back is already in a flexed position, moving gently between flexion & extension will assist gaining more mobility throughout the whole spine. Movement is the key to maintaining the function of all joints. It keeps the muscles conditioned and assists with the health and function of our connective tissue including out intervertebral discs and connective tissue.
Exercise Execution – exhale to slowly roll forward, inhale to stay, exhale to slowly restack each spinal joint on top of the other till upright, inhale to press gently into the ball, lifting the breastbone towards the ceiling to gently extend the upper back
Exercise Tips – use the ball and gentle pressure into the hands to increase the lift and length of the spine. Create as much space between each spinal joint as possible. When rounding forward imagine a capital ‘C’ so that you have an even curve throughout your spine. When extending the upper back at the end be careful of your neck alignment. Same as the ball extension lift from your breastbone rather than your chin
Cadillac Hanging Back
We want a strong and mobile spine, so it is important we also load the muscles of the spine, especially as we age. Hanging back is such a great exercise for this, as it combines strength & mobility of both the spine as well as strength of the shoulder girdle. We also need to ensure age is not a barrier to our exercise selection and we continue to program based on ability and creating new challenges. Royce certainly lives up to Joe’s quote – “If your spine is inflexibly stiff at 30, you are old. If it is completely flexible at 60 you are young.” So, he is certainly young, and we just need to change the 60 to 78! Royce you are a true inspiration.
Exercise Execution – talk to your Pilates instructor about building this exercise into your Pilates program.