Massage & Bodywork

September/October 2013

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best practices Business side | Q & art | table lessons | savvy self-care Be on the Ball Building Strength and Flexibility By Peggy Lamb Let's face it—even with the best body mechanics, doing massage is tough on our bodies, especially the low back. Both strength and flexibility are needed to maintain our range of movement while helping our clients recover and maintain theirs. The exercise ball is a fabulous tool you can use to build your 1 2 3 4 core and low-back strength and flexibility. Strength A unique benefit of an exercise ball is its ability to position the body with proper alignment and simultaneously challenge a muscle or group of muscles. Maintaining proper alignment on the ball stimulates the body's natural motor reflexes and encourages the body to react as an integrated unit. In other words, the ball challenges the whole body to participate in order to maintain correct posture and balance while performing a dynamic movement. Supine Bridge The Supine Bridge is a great exercise for strengthening your low back and core. Your arms should be on the floor by your side in a comfortable position. • ie supine on the floor with heels, ankles, and L lower legs hip-width apart on the ball. • url your pelvis under, then slowly lift your pelvis off C the floor (Image 1). Keep the gluteus maximus relaxed; let the core do the work. Hold for 15–30 seconds. • o come out, curl your pelvis under and T lower the spine—vertebra by vertebra. One of the great things about an exercise ball is that a simple change of arm position totally changes the difficulty of an exercise. After gaining mastery of the supine bridge, challenge your balance and coordination by changing your arm position (Images 2 and 3). Once you've mastered those variations, try the ultimate version of this exercise by lifting one leg off the ball (Image 4).

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