Animals Do It: Stretch after Sleeping

Trish Garland, who premiered the role of Judy, the “tall, gawky, and quirky dancer,” in Chorus Line, taught a workshop for Pilates instructors on how to work with aging clients at Anthony Rabara’s Pilates studio last weekend. Garland has a studio in California, and Rabara’s studio is in Research Park, but both are committed to teaching the authentic Pilates method as they learned it at the original New York studio from Romana Kryzanowski

Though Garland’s body looks like it hasn’t changed a bit — she’s still tall and skinny — she claims that, in her early ’60s, she is feeling the effects of aging, and so she is focusing on what to do about it. (In the group photo, she and Rabara are in front row center; she’s the blonde.) 

I was one of the “aging clients” in respectful attendance at the workshop and was reprimanded — yet again — for my habit of standing with hands behind my back, stomach out, not standing tall. (I know better. Anyone hereby has my permission to remind me about it. What’s that expression…it takes a village to change an aging person’s habits?)

The take-away from the Pilates workshop that we all can use is that, to protect your back and the rest of your aging bones, stretch like a cat before you get out of bed. We’re talking a serious stretch and here are some of the ways she suggested.

Knees up, roll back and forth to massage your back. Cross your ankles and hold your toes. Pull your feet to your  bottom. Shrug your shoulders to your ears. Turn your head from side to side (unless you have vertigo). Bend your forearms, hands up, open and close your hands and circle them. With knees up, flex and point your feet. Roll over to sit on the edge of your bed and pound your toes, rat a tat tat, against the floor. All this before you get out of bed. 

I won’t go into medical history about why I need this, but, trust me, this kind of wake-up stretching is good for all of us. As Joseph Pilates used to say — animals do it. So it must be good for us. 


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