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Teach what you want them to do, now what you want them to feel.

contrology collective cueing find the efficiencies heath lander reformer pilates teach the extremities

Engage this, contract that. Such instructions set you and your clients up for failure.

Tell them to engage their core and the internal dialogue you facilitate is on the spectrum of:

"What’s my core?"

"Where’s my core?"

"How do I know if my core is engaged?"

"Is it engaged enough?"

"She seems to have her core engaged better than I do, at least she looks like she knows what to do!?"

If we ask our students to fire/engage/switch on their glutes, how do we know if they are or not? Yes, a trained eye can see the tonicity change in superficial muscles but that doesn’t predict their experience and what if you're asking them to gently engage their pelvic floor? Invisible!

Better to teach the movement you want them to do, something you can both see happen.

“Turn your kneebone towards the window”

But we don’t have a kneebone! And how will they know what muscles they ‘should be using’?

Try the alternative extreme:

“Externally rotate your femur by the contraction of sartorius, gluteus maximus, piriformis, the gemellis and obturators”

Teach the extremities.

The hidden, and more important question here is WHY would we cue the internal activity, why would we cue the subtleties?

Why do we cue people to contract their glutes or relax their hip flexors or engage their pelvic floor, transversus etc. etc?

I see two main drivers.

Perceived need for safety (aka stability) and a framework of (aesthetically) correct movement.

Both of these are handed down from somewhere. Our teachers teachers, someone’s interpretation of the science, the history of a particular ballet school, gymnastics benchmarks etc.

The curly question for movement teachers working predominantly with the general public is whether or not any of these reasons are relevant or applicable.

As the science becomes more and more compelling, anyone holding onto the idea that we need to cue pelvic stability, scapula position or femoral head position etc etc because of the vulnerability of the tissues needs to do some reading or some fresh training.

If we are cueing glutes, abs, core, plantar flexion, circumduction, internal rotation, external rotation et al for aesthetic reasons - because we think that’s the way Joseph, Clara, Romana or your uncle Jeremiah wanted it done - that’s all well and good. But be aware that the science of motor learning is absolutely clear: internal cueing sets up our students to solve fewer of their own problems, discover fewer efficiencies and ultimately learn less in their time with us.

So, whatever shapes and movements you are teaching, stand back, simplify your language, teach the extremities and let those remarkable human beings in front of you find the efficiencies.


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