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How do you climb a tree?

Climbing a tree is one of my favorite pilates exercises, for very good reasons. It provides a really nice stretch on the hamstring of the gesturing leg, a nice opening for the supporting leg hip flexors, and a nice stretch to your back that makes you really feel the abdominal muscles curling the spine forward. Sometimes during the climbing a tree exercise you get a good stretch and it feels really good, but the pelvic stabilization aspect of the exercise gets less attention, and for that reason I love practicing this variation with the spine corrector. I would also use this variation with students who need more back support during spinal extension, or with students that fear going backwards over the box.

On the spine corrector I begin this exercise by reaching my gesturing leg forward, and then encourage the abdominal muscles to pull back in order for the pelvis to roll back and receive support from the spine corrector.

I emphasize finding equal contact with the spine corrector from both the left and right side of the pelvis. I continue to roll back my lower back, being guided by the counter of the spine corrector. When I cannot go further with my back, I start to walk my hands down the gesturing leg towards the pelvis and this allows me to extend the rest of my spine. I continue to use bony landmarks such as ribs and shoulder blades in order to assess that there is equal contact with the spine corrector on both the right and left sides of my back. As I curl up and forward I encourage the abdominal muscles to pull back as if they are trying to stay connected to the spine corrector. I walk my hands up my gesturing leg towards the ankle, and as the gesturing leg lowers, the pelvis rolls forward over the standing leg. In this variation I use the standing leg to push against the platform which activates it in a very different way compare to pulling on the ankle strap with the box version.

I love how the spine moves organically from flexion to extension in this exercise. Your body will feel stretched out but very much connected and controlled.

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