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exercise of the month

Elephant on the Reformer

October 2020

Aim

This exercise works on the powerhouse to draw the carriage in.  There is also a stretch for the hamstrings and calves.

Starting Position

Stand upright on the carriage with the heels pressing up against the shoulder rests. Try to lift the toes up.  Place the hands onto the footbar about shoulder width apart.  Flex the spine, draw the head down and tuck in the chin.  Increase lumbar flexion by scooping the abdominals to tuck the pelvis into a posterior tilt.

Action

Inhale – Maintain core abdominal engagement to keep the lumbar flexion and push the carriage away, ensuring that the torso and arms are stabilised

Exhale – Using the powerhouse connection, dig the heels into the carriage and use the abdominals and hip flexors the slowly draw the carriage in.  Do not touch the stopper

Target Muscles

Hamstrings, hip flexors, core abdominals, gastrocnemius, soleus, scapula stabilisers

Watchpoints

Keep both shoulders level and away from the ears
Maintain equal weight on both heels
Keep the ribs lifted
Ensure that the body does not collapse and drop down below the shoulders
Maintain lumbar flexion throughout to prevent the lower back from flattening as the legs push back
The elbows point to the floor, not out to the sides
Ensure the arms are stabilised to prevent pushing with the arms instead of the legs
The abdominals act like a brake to stop the carriage in its tracks; almost like an emergency stop
Experiment with different resistance on the springs to change the abdominal emphasis

Contra Indictions

Variation One (Adaptation)

For those with tight hamstrings, raise the heels up against the shoulder rests and perform the exercise on the balls of the feet

Variation Two (Adaptation)

For those with short torso lengths, move the feet forwards, away from the shoulder rest by as much as necessary.  Place the feet on a sticky mat.  This allows the scapula to remain stabilised.

Contraindications

A round back position with lumbar flexion is not suitable for those with osteoporosis or disc related back problems.  Perform the flat back version, with a neutral spine instead.

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