The scoop is a signature concept for Pilates training, as well as a topic for much debate. Every teacher has an opinion on whether the Pilates exercises should be done with a scoop or neutral spine. It’s impossible not to land on one side of the political fence or the other with a viewpoint on ...The scoop is a signature concept for Pilates training, as well as a topic for much debate. Every teacher has an opinion on whether the Pilates exercises should be done with a scoop or neutral spine. It’s impossible not to land on one side of the political fence or the other with a viewpoint on to scoop or not to scoop.
It seems unrealistic to me to say that there is only one way to do anything! I’ve always taught my teachers to use their eye and treat each person as an individual. Here’s my personal opinion for the use of the Pilates scoop, I hope you find it useful in deciding whether you’re going to incorporate scooping into the exercises in your Pilates training programs.
Scooping is a necessary concept for learning how to properly articulate the spine and strengthen core muscles. Since each individual has a unique structure and different strengths and weaknesses, it seems most useful to train the body to work with both a neutral pelvis and scoop since the use of both movement and stabilization are key in Pilates training and teaching the body functional movement patterns.
The Benefit of Learning to Scoop
The ability to articulate into a scoop lengthens low back muscles and strengthens the core, providing the opportunity for a flexible spine able to move freely in flexion, extension, rotation, and lateral bending. A good scoop facilitates the ability to articulate the spine from the tailbone through the sacrum, to waistline, moving the pelvis into a posterior tilt. Scooping lengthens the tailbone away from the head, opening the spine while changing the curves of the back. When the lumbar spine moves into flexion, the neck should complement the curve. Both ends of the body pull away from center.
The Benefit of Maintaining a Neutral Spine
The ability to maintain a neutral pelvis position involves enough abdominal strength to keep the back muscles from taking over and pulling the pelvis farther into an anterior tilt/arch.
Having been a gymnast and dancer (with congenital low back dysfunctions) - I began my Pilates training with a nice anterior tilt to my pelvis, a huge arch in my low back, very tight hip flexors and surprisingly weak abdominals. How many of your students face this same challenge! For me, learning how to articulate my spine and even get into a good position for rolling was almost impossible. In fact it was more than six months of practicing Pilates before I ever made it back up to balance on Rolling Like a Ball and the Seal. Without learning how to scoop, I’d probably still only dreaming about rolling.
Why Practice Scooping?
The length created through the torso with a good scoop facilitates maintaining good flexion of the spine for the Hundred, Rolling Like a Ball, Series of 5, Stomach Massage Round, Kneeling Knees Round & Knees Off, Pelvic Lift…All of the beginner repertoire to strengthen the abdominals and get clients off to a successful start with their Pilates program.
Who Should Scoop?
Every Pilates student should learn and be able to work with a scoop. If when looking at standing posture - you observe the pelvis in a tucked or posterior tilted position, the concept of scooping may be easier to teach, but only because the hips tend more naturally to this position - Typically for this person, hip mechanics are compromised, hamstrings tight, abdominals and back muscles weak. The natural curves of the spine may be reversed! This would be a student who needs to learn proper scooping for correct abdominal strength, and also needs to focus on neutral spine exercises for improved hip mechanics and better gait.
If a client has standing posture with more lordosis or anterior pelvic tilt, hip flexors and low back muscles will be tight, and abdominals still weak. You can’t effectively articulate into a good scoop until the low back muscles stretch enough to allow the abdominals to work effectively to change the spine position. Neutral positions may be easier, but there can be a tendency to rely on back muscles to do all the work.
A cue often used is belly button to the backbone, or navel to spine. This cue may give a false sense of scoop. It tends to cut the body into two halves, (a top and a bottom) from the waistline rather than lengthening and articulating the spine as the tailbone curls forward. Rather than just the navel, everything from the base of the torso to the waistline should flatten. If the hip bones move closer to the ribs when working on scooping, it’s incorrect. Watch for length, with the hips pulling away from the ribs as the abdominals flatten and the spine lengthens into a scoop.
Initiation for a Good Scoop
Preparatory Exercises To Practice Scooping
Pelvic Curl Supine-
What to watch for:
Pelvic Curl Prone-
What to watch for
Practicing this exercise both supine and prone changes the way that gravity affects the body. Because the legs are straight vs. bent, it is also different for pelvis placement and hip mechanics. Generally I teach the supine exercise to my new students, and the prone exercise in preparation for push-ups, Long Stretch on the Reformer, and other intermediate exercises when the time is right.
Aliesa George is the founder of Centerworks® Pilates. She is an author, workshop presenter, and mind-body health expert with more than 25 years of experience designing solutions for health improvement. Aliesa has created a wide variety of products focused on Pilates, Foot Fitness, the Mind-Body Connection, Stress-Management, and Whole-Body Health. She enjoys helping others discover the connection between thought and action to get positive results and achieve goals for a healthy mind, body and spirit!
To get complete product information and read more of her articles, go to http://www.Centerworks.com