Rethinking the Ballet Stretches: Mobilizing the Hip on the Cadillac

By: Carla Ricalis

Inspired by the possibilities of movement found in the Ballet Stretches, we’re adding different pulls of resistance, some Gyrotonic-inspired movement and a focus on mobilizing the hips through extension, rotation and abduction. Try all three movements, then take your clients to a sequence that demands standing, transfer of weight, balance and proprioception. 

OR!

Integrate exercises that target full body movements in between each of these so you can bring your clients back to a grounding, focused and controlled pattern. Ideas of full body movements to layer in between? I’m thinking of the following as some examples:

  1. Up Stretch on the Reformer
  2. Fencer Lunges on the Cadillac
  3. Forward Step Up on the Stability Chair

One Leg Push Thru With Feet:

Keeping it as a single leg exercise gives clients the opportunity to isolate the hip/knee movement with precision. 

Use it as a building block for the Shoulder Bridge on the Mat! 

But for clients who need to work on hip extension, chances are their lower backs can grip and get in the way when things are done bilaterally (as in; their lower backs will move into extension to accommodate their tight hip flexors). 

So while an exercise like the traditional Push Thru with Feet might look like a great option, it’s probably too much demand on that hip/lumbar region…so break it down, isolate one leg, include the emphasis of a contralateral challenge and see if it can help introduce some proper patterning into your clients body.

Seated Ballet Stretches with Shoulder Girdle Stability:

Full Disclosure: purely inspired from work on the Gyrotonic Tower, this exercise can be broken down even further to just focus on either the hip flexion or abduction.

Remember! Sitting neutral (on sitz bones) and accessing hip flexion is DEMANDING for most….figure out if there’s a way to easily modify their sitting position (maybe a bit higher??) or the exercise (maybe flexing the knee as the leg lifts and extending as the leg drops; this could actually be a great way to emphasize the all important connection of accessing the quads and hamstrings with simultaneous knee/hip extension). 

And don’t forget to cue the arms/shoulders. Thinking about a gentle pull with a hand grip that encourages a wrap of the hand to connect into the shoulder girdle is a nice way to remind clients of their upper body activation and spine lengthening. 

Supine Hip Extension of Edge of Cadillac:

Setup: hook the leg spring up to the horizontal slide bar and adjust the bar to be directly over the client’s bent knee when lying supine. Have your client lie on the Cadillac so the moving leg can drop easily off the side. Keep them in either a neutral or a slight lumbar flexion. How to decide? Consider the following:

  1. Their ability to stabilize the pelvis and isolate their hip movement
  2. Their natural, static postural stance (lordotic?, posterior tilt? Where do you want them to feel a more appropriate, stronger position? Why?
  3. What’s up next in their workout? 

Are you taking them somewhere in the session where isolating that hip extension with lumbar flexion is going to benefit (like maybe, the Advanced Short Spine?)

OR

Is a neutral pelvis key to something a bit more functional and perhaps upright? Like a squat or hinge pattern? 

Try to introduce these exercises to clients who have a familiarity with the Ballet Stretches. Getting them to transfer awareness from movements that complement one another is a great way to sustain the benefits to be gained from all of them and create a thread or link throughout their workouts. 

For more cues & tips on how to diversify your workouts, sign up for our newsletter and join our Instructor Master classes – drop in format, every Thursday night online. 

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