As we come to the end of our Stomach Massage program, we thought we’d take a closer look at the Stomach Massage movement itself.
For some of us, it’s hard to believe that, in designing the Stomach Massage movement, Joseph Pilates saw it as an internal massage for the stomach and vital organs. To start the movement we need to find a really deep squat, with our femurs (thigh bones) in a vertical position. Lifting through our back, we need to find the ‘C’ curve in our spine – so important in many Pilates movements.
It’s tempting to see Stomach Massage as an exercise for our quads (front of thigh muscles). However, what we’re trying to do is use our in-breath to lengthen the springs and in doing so, lengthen our legs. Bringing the carriage back in, we use the feeling of our thighs (almost) pressing against our torso to expel the breath, ready for the next deep breath in.
As we breathe in deeply, allowing the diaphragm to contract, we can almost feel the oxygen working to massage our internal organs. But don’t worry if you’re not feeling that – you are still working muscle groups really hard!
Once we find our form we can place our hands on the shoulder rests and lengthen in and out of the movement with a straight spine. Over time, we may be able to release one hand and find rotation through our ribs, or lengthen both arms, using our shoulder girdle and core muscles to hold us upright in the movement.
For some of us, it’s a tricky movement, which is why, as always with our Programs, we layer the complexity of the movement, increasing the challenge as we find our form.
Before getting to the Stomach Massage movement, we warm up and strengthen key muscle groups. Chest Lift and Supine Arms exercises help us find our ‘C’ curve; the Quadruped series helps improve our shoulder range; and the Reverse Abdominals Series help us find flexion while using our abdominal muscles.
It has been such a thrill to see how much more comfortable everyone has become with some quite challenging movements during the course of the program. We can see how much stronger you’ve become and hope you can see that both in class and in your everyday activities.
Next week, we’ll be taking a look at our new Find Your Flow® program – this one is the Front Splits Program – we’re looking forward to sharing it with you!