The Method

How Our Bodies Got Out of Kilter…and How to Get Realigned: Part II

April 17, 2009

Last week, I talked about how our bodies got out of kilter. This week, I’ll focus on how The Bar Method works to realign our bodies.

The Bar Method takes alignment problems seriously and takes major steps to tackle them.   First, its exercises use vertical positions for much of the workout’s strength work.   Second, it improves coordination between students’ front and back sides by methodically teaching them how to isolate posterior muscles.  Third, it shows no mercy to the glutes, relentlessly working them again and again throughout the class.  Finally, it strengthens and lengthens the hip-flexor and lower back muscles, while tightening and firming those in the upper back.

Here are three muscle groups that get special attention:

Hip-flexors – The psoas and iliacus, the muscles most responsible for raising our legs to the front, also play a role in holding us upright.  What you can’t do to these muscles is make them look “carved” since they’re hidden inside our lower torsos.  For this reason most muscle-building workouts ignore them and other systems such as Pilates unknowingly over-work them.  The Bar Method workout alternatively strengthens and stretches these muscles throughout the class, plus it teachers students to hold their pelvises upright while standing and moving, effectively rewiring the psoas to help maintain a more vertical posture.

Glutes – On top of its relentless focus on the glutes, The Bar Method helps its students to engage them properly without allowing other muscles to take over.  Physiology researchers report that many, if not most, subjects fail when asked to recruit the correct posterior muscle groups. To address this chronic lack of body awareness the Bar Method uses precise, step-by-step set-ups for its glute exercises.   It’s careful attention to form during “seat work” is one of the features that most sets the Bar Method apart from other bar-based systems.

Lower Back – When something’s off on one side, it’s a sure bet that it’s off on the other side.  So when your hip-flexors are tight, assume your lower back is also affected.  Your hip-flexors actually span between these two points — the front of your hips and your lower back.  Hours of sitting, driving and the wrong kind of exercise, therefore, will pull both your rear backwards and your lower back forwards.  Obviously this skewed posture is less than flattering, and it’s also a common cause of lower back pain.

Corrective action can make a huge difference if applied during exercise, and the Bar Method delivers.