Adding Tension Release Work into Dynamic Pilates S...

Adding Tension Release Work into Dynamic Pilates Sessions

spinefitter workout

How do we best incorporate tension release work into our dynamic Pilates sessions? Well, the Spinefitter by Sissel has become my favorite tool for finding the perfect balance of tension release for mobility and then challenging the activated system!

*One thing to note, the Spinefitter is best utilized in short bouts of time releasing an area of the body (I usually spend around 10 minutes per area). Here are some examples J!


From the beginning, before getting into Footwork, let’s “gently wake up” the feet. With the Spinefitter on the floor (preferably on a mat), step one foot on the balls near the toes/balls of feet. Start leaning your body weight gently onto that foot, bending your knee over your toes, and then backing off pressure. Continue to repeat this with small movements of the foot to different positions on the Spinefitter balls. After repeating this on the other foot, take a moment to “stand and assess” before beginning your Footwork. Notice if you feel any different during your Footwork series?


Now, I like to give the spine some attention on mobility and tissue release next. So…. place the Spinefitter on either the carriage of the Reformer, Trap Table or Mat (whichever apparatus is part of your session that day!). Lying supine, lengthwise on the Spinefitter, take a moment to make sure your head and pelvis are both supported. If not, make sure your head is on a pillow and the Spinefitter reaches down to your sacrum. You can stay here and “let gravity do the work” by just doing your best to breathe and relax. Starting with your pelvis, gently rock your pelvis forward and back, like pelvic tilts, to massage your low back. Feel free to try a low bridge here… explore! Then move to your shoulders by lifting your arms, bending your elbows and touching your fingers to the tops of your shoulders, creating little “wings”. You can open and close your wings, circle them, or move them around however feels good to you! That got you ready for Abdominal curl! Take the abdominal curl with arms reaching forward to feel more of your thoracic spine mobilizing. And THAT will take you into your 100s, Series of 5 and Short Spine Massage; *BONUS CHALLENGE OPTION = Try your Supine Armwork or Abdominal work with the Spinefitter under the length of your spine. WHOA!


Next up, my FAVORITE way to do Seated Armwork is with the Spinefitter under the sitz bones. Yep, you can’t knock it until you try it! Whether you are sitting on the Reformer carriage or Sitting Box, place the Spinefitter widthways across the surface for you to sit on it with your sitz bones/upper hamstrings. As you take your Armwork series, make micro-adjustments to your position to feel the gentle release work on your posterior legs.

Immediately after that, take your Feet in Straps series and enjoy! Your hamstrings may feel a great deal longer. (This was a 2 for 1 deal!) *BONUS CHALLENGE OPTION = Take your Feet in Straps with the Spinefitter under the length of the spine.


Lastly, with the lateral and anterior leg being wonderful forms of support via tension, sometimes those surrounding muscles can use a bit of gentle “massage”. With the Spinefitter on the Trap Table or Mat, side-lying on it lengthwise from just above your lateral ankle bone (malleolus) and near the upper thigh (greater trochanter), start to gently rock forward a back (without falling off!) to ease the tissues. After 2-3 minutes, switch to the other leg. Then, turn the Spinefitter widthwise and lying prone with it under your quadriceps/hip flexors below the ASISs. As you rock gently from right to left, move your way up and down the thighs, but staying off your knees. This bit of release work will take you beautifully into the Long Box Pulling Straps Series on the Reformer, or any prone spine & hip extension work. Open up the front body to allow the back body to work effectively and efficiently!

As you might have noticed, I prefer to do little bits of release work throughout the session and in between sequences of resistance work. You can absolutely frontload the session with the release work if you want to consolidate, but just be mindful of time on one body part. Less can sometimes be more. Either way you take it, explore sprinkling in bits of release work for different areas of the body and see how it can enhance your Pilates session!

If you are interested in a full mat workout incorporating the Spinefitter, check out this link!

Christine started her movement education path in college achieving a Bachelor’s of Science in Kinesiology from CSU Sacramento (2011), as well as a Minor in Dance. Her combined interest of those brought her to Pilates, receiving her comprehensive training with BASI Pilates (2013). Building on knowledge from experience in physical therapy clinics, Pilates studios, and educational conferences, Christine then became a Pilates Master Instructor for Balanced Body Education (2019). In maintaining a continuous goal of expanding movement knowledge, she utilizes her mechanical and kinesiological understanding along with innovations of contemporary, Pilates-informed movement. To put it simply, she strives to help every body find their most balanced quality of movement, and feel good doing it!


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