In the photo shown above you can see that I keep both fully inflated balls plus half deflated balls ready for use as support for the Pilates exercises that I offer at A Room For Pilates Studio in Sebastopol, CA.
This ball created by Eric Franklin (of the experiential movement method called “Franklin Method”) is between 6-7 inches wide and it has uses supporting the body on the Pilates Mat and on Pilates Equipment in a variety of ways.
- The fully inflated ball can be used as a support “cushion” behind the upper back or what is called the “Thoracic spine” right between the lower end of the shoulder blades. In order to successfully engage in an “Ab curl” students need to lift their thoracic spine up off the mat while pressing the abdominal muscles flat against the mat. This can be very challenging and tiring for students new to Pilates mat moves and having the inflated ball there to prop up the spine helps the students hold the optimum position for toning the abdominal muscles. This thoracic tilt is used in famous moves such as “The Hundreds”.
- The half deflated ball can be placed in the same location of the upper back (Thoracic spine) and used as a support cushion when students wish to lie flat on a mat with the upper back in extension. This benefits the spine and health of the organs plus releases stress and tension in the back and shoulders. This would be called a “Restorative Pose” and the support of the ball makes it easy to relax into this pose.
- The fully inflated ball can also be placed behind the sacrum when lying flat on the mat. This is extremely helpful for people who would like to do the “Hip Mobility Series” and practice the Pilates Leg Work in the air while propping their pelvis up with an inflated ball. For those who need zero impact exercises for their hips and legs this is a very simple series of leg movements that mimics running, swimming and bicycling in the air. The ball props the pelvis at an angle so that the hips can move freely in their sockets.
- The half deflated ball can be placed underneath the sacrum when students are lying on their backs on the reformer carriage with their feet on the foot bar. Using the ball this way can act to prop the pelvis upwards while students do “Pilates Footwork” or “Pilates Leg Presses” on the reformer. Having the pelvis propped up a little bit helps to scoop the abdominal muscles and puts them in an optimal position for toning.
- Fully inflated balls can be used as a cushion to support the head if you are lying on your side on the reformer (such as side lying jumping moves).
It can also be used this way on the side lying moves on the mat such as “Inner Thigh Lift” and “Banana”.
- Finally the fully inflated balls can be used to hold a consistent space between the knees, ankles, feet and hands during a variety of mat moves when it benefits and challenges students to be pressing the ball in order to engage muscles optimally during the mat moves.
Eric Franklin Air Ball are available for $10 at A Room For Pilates Studio, Sebastopol or can be mail ordered from the link to the Balanced Body Website provided below: