1. The Hundred
The most well-known Pilates exercise, designed to strengthen abdominal muscles, improve spinal stability, and emphasize breath. It can be an amazing exercise that works a lot of body parts, when performed correctly. When your parts are fighting each other, it can cause increase in neck tension, low back pain, hip flexor/quad cramping.
Classical start: lie flat on back, head on floor, arms at sides palms down
Recommended start: vertical arms, hips/knees at 90 degrees (dead bug)
1. Exhale, float head, neck and shoulders off the floor, reach arms horizontal and heels 12-18 inches from floor.
2. Inhale, hinge at shoulders to pump arms up/down 4-6 inches five times. Exhale to pump arms for five. Repeat ten times, hence the hundred.
3. Inhale to return to start position.
To decrease neck tension: find armpit muscles to float head, neck, and shoulders, utilize support from the back of the neck, soften sternum/bend at thoracic spine to raise head.
To improve lumbar stability: think of tipping pubic bone towards nose when lowering the legs, image pushing down with hamstrings.
To improve overall efficiency of the exercise: inhale into the back of the ribs, exhale to wrap around softening ribs.
Modifications: keep head on the floor, bend knees with feet on floor, keep hip/knees at 90 degrees, straighten legs to ceiling, straighten legs 45 degree angle at hips, perform 20/50/70 breath count. Use any of these modifications as needed for neck/low back pain or fatigue.