3 years ago, I was in tremendous pain every morning when I stepped out of bed. Anytime I stood up from sitting for a long period of time, I could hardly walk. I even lost all sense of balance.
At the time, I was doing high intensity cardio dance 4-5 days a week and I was doing a method of muscular toning that included high repetitions (30-40) of exercises on hands and knees. I was kicking my leg in directions that I was never taught in my Pilates training.
While it was fun and I was toning up and slimming down, I knew the workout was causing dysfunction in my body.
I had developed plantar fasciitis.
When I went to my physical therapist, I couldn’t believe that 90% of the work was geared toward strengthening my booty muscles!
How can my weak butt be causing tight calves and pain in my feet? Well, that’s exactly it. The exercises I was doing for my butt prior to physical therapy were actually weakening it. Therefore, something had to take over. It was my calves, which then caused a chain reaction of tension into my feet.
Through rehabbing this injury, I learned so much about the importance of having strong glutes.
While the cardio dance & "muscular toning" workout was causing overuse and weakening my glutes, the opposite, underuse, can cause weakness as well. Whenever you sit down, your glutes and your hamstring muscles go to sleep. How much time do you spend each day sitting? Driving? Reading? At the computer?
For all the time spent sitting, we must do something to wake up the glutes and make them strong.
So, I have declared this month, Booty Power Month on the Sarah D. Pilates Blog!
One of my favorite exercises to strengthen the glutes is a bridge. If you take my classes you’re almost guaranteed to have a bridge sequence in class. Cause it’s that important!
This week, we are starting off slowly and methodically. I want to help you fine-tune your bridge. It's truly an art to get the positioning correct in your bridge.
Here are 3 tips to get the most out of your bridges:
1. Feet: Keep the feet parallel and balance your feet on the tripod of the foot.
Most commonly, at the top of the bridge, we roll toward the pinky side of the foot, so be sure the big toe knuckle is weighted into the mat.
2. Align the spine: Once you’re up in your bridge, find a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.
We often want to lift our ribs way up and away from the mat as seen in the picture below. But when we do so, it becomes a back exercise and not a glute exercise. It makes a big difference.
3. Work the tuck: At the top of the bridge, continuously curl your tail under.
A Pilates bridge not only strengthens the glutes and the hamstrings, but it also acts as a front of the hip opener. Think of opening the front of the hips to target the work. You should feel the work right where the legs connect under the butt.
Try this right now: Lie on your back and lift your hips up to a bridge position. Then go through the checklist:
- Tripods of Feet
- Straight line from shoulders to knees
- Work the pelvic tuck
Now hold it for 1 minute! Let your buns cook for one minute. Focus on the 3 pointers above and notice the work in the glutes.
Although this exercise may seem simple, I encourage you to fully commit to doing it each day, until I post a new one next week. It will build a brilliant foundation from which to work.
I have heard stories of the Pilates elders having new students hold positions in class while the rest are moving through a sequence. Doing this one exercise each day for a week will bear fruitful results within your Pilates practice.
Now, I want to hear from you. After trying your 1 minute bridge, are you able to really feel your glutes fire? Have you noticed that perhaps you needed to tweak one or more of the 3 notes above to get them to fire? If so, let me know which one is helping the most in the comments below.
Until next week, have a beautiful day and cheers to your strong and powerful booty!