‘Tis the Season…..

…to be paddling around Lake Sammammish in a tiny boat at 7:30 in the morning!

lake_sammamishThat might be an arguable statement. But I mention it here because a few days ago, while watching my fellow kayakers become specks on the horizon (I’m new at this, okay?), I asked the kindly instructor who stayed back with me what the trick was to building speed. Longer strokes? More strokes? More coffee? She looked over and simply said “oh, you just use your core.”

Pilates instructor say “WHAA?!” I am a Professional Core Engagor. It’s always on. Drat!

In my defense, I was using my core…to a degree. The basic forward stroke is about torso rotation, not pulling with the arms, and I have that down well enough to putter along without undue arm/shoulder fatigue. But to really step on the gas, so to speak, turns out you have to press hard on the foot brace and rotate all the way down from the base of the spine. I’d been practicing a solid thoracic (mid & upper back) rotation with all my attention on the upper body, when I really needed to connect into my lower body to drive a powerful functional rotation all the way from the hips.

This is not to say I have it all figured out. Now I gotta do all that, stay straight and level, not accidentally overtake unsuspecting porpoises and speedboats, or (perhaps most likely) tip over. But thank goodness my Pilates training has given me a big head start in building my technique!

SP_Matwork-06Speaking of spinal rotation, let’s segue into this month’s Awesome Results Report. It was a “win moment” spotted as a client was preparing to practice a basic exercise called – you guessed it – the Spine Twist. This client originally sought us out because she was tired of her chronic low back pain. She clearly carried her pelvis tipped forward, which translates to a deep arch in the low back, very noticeable in her seated posture. She had a lifelong habit of trying to sit up “straight” by cranking her pelvis forward with her hip flexors, then arching her upper back to get her torso pulled back into line. I wanted her to drop the pelvis back back to a more upright position, easing the forward curve of her low spine, then allow her upper spine to soften out of that backward arch. We continued to focus on that postural change, along with other general and targeted strengthening. Weeks later, with her back feeling much better, she sat down to do her spine twist and stacked her spine up perfectly tall and neutral without even thinking about it. The alignment changes we were practicing were already becoming integrated into her posture. And her Pilates instructor cheered!!!

Where do you twist in your life? Are those twists dynamic, powerful and supported? If your activities don’t involve any twisting, remember, move it or lose it – is it time to add something new to your routine?

As always, with non-judgmental suggestions for growth and improvement,



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