Pilates Therapeutics: The Pelvic Core–More Exercises for a Pain-Free Life with Suzanne Martin

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Pilates Therapeutics; 1512 Sherman St., Alameda, CA 94501; www.totalbodydevelopment.com; VHS; 118 minutes.

Following on the heels of Martin’s therapeutic “upper core” video (reviewed in the July/August issue), which focuses on the head, neck, shoulders, and arms, this presentation treats what Martin calls the “pelvic ring core”–that is, the “postural link” between the legs and the upper torso and head–and the related “inner unit,” a band of muscles (including the diaphragm) that surround the abdomen above, below, in front, and in back.

The presentation is divided into five parts. The first two briefly review the anatomy of the pelvis and the muscular inner unit, and discuss the central role they play in healthy posture and movement. Martin notes that 60 percent of the population has some imbalance in the pelvis, which often results in chronic pain in the knees, hips, or lower back. Part 3, one minute long, displays the props needed for the exercises (including small and large padded boxes, a sticky mat, a chair, and an elastic band) and makes suggestions for around-the-home substitutes.

Part 4 covers about two dozen Pilates-based exercises for strengthening and aligning the pelvic ring core. By my rough count, about half of these are performed reclining on the floor or on a box, the rest either sitting, kneeling, lying on the side, or resting on the hands and knees. Most of the exercises consist of slow, simple movements, like hollowing the belly, scissoring or squeezing the legs, circling bent legs, and rolling the body from side to side. This part ends with a few handy tips for everyday walking, standing, and sitting. Part 5 has a few concluding words about the work.

Martin–the owner of Total Body Development in Alameda, California; a licensed physical therapist; and a fitness instructor certified by the American College of Sports–offers specific instructions and cautions, has a keen sense of proper alignment, and provides easier alternatives for the more challenging exercises. Because of the relative subtlety of a few of the exercises, she also helpfully demonstrates their incorrect performance.

While the exercises are for the most part grouped according to their performance position (for example, reclining or kneeling), the actual selection and sequencing of the work is left up to the practitioner (possibly with the advice of a physical therapist). My only complaint is that Martin doesn’t always explain the benefits of the exercises, but this is a minor point. All in all, with her two videos, she’s assembled an intelligent and thorough program, whether as therapy (for pain relief) or as a basic body tune-up.

Richard Rosen, who teaches in Oakland and Berkeley, California, has been writing for Yoga Journal since the 1970s.

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