|This week we thought we’d take a look at ‘Russian Splits’ – one of the exercises in our new Find your Flow® program.
(We tried to find out why they’re called ‘Russian’ splits but our google search only managed to take us on a journey through political splits in Russian history – enough of that already!!)
Russian Splits is the final exercise in Joseph Pilates’ original Reformer exercises, so some may consider it to be the most challenging – but not the way we break it down!
As you’ll see from the pictures above, this movement is primarily about hip mobility. That’s been our focus in the early weeks of the program. As we progress to standing on the reformer, we need to use our core strength and muscles in both legs to slide the carriage out and in. At this point, we’re also challenging the balance centres in our brain and proprioceptive (sensory nervous) system.
Balance and proprioception are all about our ability to stay safely upright. To achieve that, the brain needs constant input from our muscles and joints so that it can make adjustments. These messages are sent to the brain through our proprioceptive system. Our proprioception can decrease if we’ve been sedentary for a while or if we’ve been injured, so it’s important to challenge our proprioceptive system in a controlled and safe way. (Many Pilates exercises will help improve our proprioception – ask your teacher if you’d like to know more.)
As with many of the movements in this program (and the Pilates repertoire generally) Russian Splits will help improve our hip stability and mobility. This in turn will help to relieve lower back pain – when our hips are tight, we tend to pull on muscles in the lower back for support. It will also help strengthen and lengthen core and leg muscles.
So, this is a lovely exercise to help keep us upright and improve how we walk or run, freeing us from lower back pain. It will also help in any movement that challenges our balance (eg. standing on a stool to reach something from a high shelf; cycling; dancing).
Quite apart from all of these benefits, it’s also a fun exercise to do! We’d love to know what benefits it’s bringing to your everyday life!