Analysis by Nkoya Dove B.Sc. & Gill Cummings-Bell M.Sc.
Lie in supine with the head, shoulders and scapulae lifted off the floor. Legs should be raised from the floor and extended at approx 60 degrees or at a height where control is maintained through the lower back. Reach the arms forwards in front of the body so that they are parallel with the legs, with palms facing down.
Advanced: position arms overhead by the ears.
Inhale: Curl the upper body forwards, maintaining a c-curve through the spine until the body balances itself on the sit bones. Sit up tall through the lumbar and thoracic spine at the top of the movement.
Exhale: Curl the trunk back down to the start position. Repeat up to 10 times dependent on ability levels.
Movement and Muscles
Spinal flexion: rectus abdominus, external oblique, internal oblique
Spinal stabilisation: transversus abdominus
Spinal extension: erector spinae group
Hip flexion: illiopsoas, rectus femoris, sartorius
Knee extensors: quadriceps
Shoulder flexion: anterior deltoid, pectoralis major
Low back position: do not allow the pelvis to tilt forwards and the low back arch; a c-curve must be maintained through the spine during the up and down phase of the movement.
Shoulder position: do not allow the shoulders to lower towards the body, they should stay in the same position from start to finish, whether that is parallel to the legs or by the ears in the advanced position.
In order to maintain a good position through the lower back, a conscious effort needs to be made to ‘scoop’ the abdominals in towards the spine throughout the movement. To ensure that the chest lift is also maintained by the abdominals both shoulders should be kept back and down; do not be tempted to reach forwards and use the arms to pull the knees in towards the chest.
Movement of both the arms and legs should have a dynamic quality, similar to that of a coiled spring. Imagine evenly straightening out through the spring as you extend and then allowing a ‘controlled recoil’ effect as the knees come back into the chest.
There are many variations of the teaser exercise and so it can be easily adapted to suit the skill level of the client. However, one must remember that it is an advanced exercise combining coordination of upper and lower limb control with spinal articulation and a height level of core control. As such, a certain level of proficiency should first be acquired in the basic Pilates exercises used as developmental tools for the teaser, these include the hundred, roll up, the double leg stretch and rocking like a ball. The focus of the exercise can be modified from lower body movement from the hips only, to torso and upper body movement only or an advanced combination of the two. There are also a number of ways in which the exercise is taught, once again changing focus dependent on the desired effects. My personal favorite is to first encourage segmental movement through the spine during the transition into and out of the v-position, concentrating on maintaining the c-curve by scooping in with the abdominals. Then once at the top of the v-position I will encourage the client to sit up tall out of the sit bones, lifting through the chest and gently moving into a neutral spine. This patter of movement will encourage co-contraction of the spinal flexors and extensors in order to maintain the upright posture without sinking into a flexed position. Any tightness through the hamstrings can cause you to fall forwards or backwards; if this is the case then simply bend the knees slightly.