There are many things that make the practice of Pilates a unique movement methodology. The springs are an element that can often be misunderstood by clients and teachers. Springs are not solely for resistance. They are a moving element of the apparatus and thereby an extension of the body in command. I know that sounds heady so let me explain.
Springs are resistance because they simulate forces we encounter in our physical body. Forces like gravity. The most compressive force of all. Gravity pulls us down to the ground and if we could not resist its force it would flatten us. We take gravity for granted every time we slouch. Propping weight in our joints to stand or sit. Habitual bad interaction with gravity leads to all the reasons people flock to Pilates.
Springs are informativeto our bodies and their setting can change every thing about an exercise. Lighter springs or settings challenge control, precision and form. All of which are difficult to teach. The springs are there for the body to interact with so as the springs change so must the body.
Springs can be supportive and I don't just mean literally. I have seen spines do amazing things and one is never like another. One thing is true of them all. Spinal decompression takes time to build. Using springs to support opposition allows the deep intrinsic muscles time to learn how to stay awake. The Roll Back Bar is exceptional at supporting the mover as the spine decompresses.
But how is any of that an 'extension of the body in command' that I said earlier? I'll use the Reformer as most all of us have been on one. The springs retract naturally pulling us to the foot bar as gravity pulls us to the ground. We resist that pull and extend to stand up into the Reformer. How heavy or light the spring informs us how much opposition between core and lower body is needed to move the carriage. The steady force of the spring supports us as we master control returning the carriage versus letting it slam closed. So you are not just moving back and forth. You are integrating with the spring. Bringing it with you and not letting it win or fall away. Springs are therefor an extension of you as you do the Pilates!
I Just released a new workshop about springs on Pilates 804 Online. My new training platform offering resources for Pilates practitioners and trainees.
I use exercises on Reformer, Tower and Chairs to focus on how the springs integrate across the apparatus.
Pilates 804 Online will soon host all of the course content in the Lecture Series required by the Teacher Training Program at Pilates 804. You'll be able to enroll in courses spanning the entire traditional repertoire with special focus on anatomy, kinesiology and pedagogy.