Pilates instructors might often feel like they’re working solo, but they have an army of props at their disposal, just waiting to help out. It’s sometimes these small things that can make the biggest difference when helping a client get the most out of an exercise.
A super instructor knows some tricks, like adding a slight lateral rotation of the leg to get more glute engagement or adding a small hand weight to bring greater awareness to scapular stabilization— and they know when to call in the reinforcements, also known as Merrithew’s friendly family of Foam Cushions.
These are a staple in any fully-equipped Pilates studio and are something our hero instructors can’t do without. Each cushion has its own unique personality and application. Let’s meet the crew.
Foam Cushion A, the baby advantage
The smallest and thinnest in the group, Foam Cushion A is most often used under the head in a supine or prone position on just about any piece of equipment. It can help realign the cervical spine, doing its job to reduce unnecessary stress and muscular strain. But its talents don’t end there. Foam Cushion A is also perfect to slip under the arm to keep the humerus in place during Side Arm Preps, or squeezed between the ankles in an adducted position for Footwork on the Reformer. Discreetly slide it under the elbows to maintain scapular stabilization when performing Mid-Back Series Triceps on the Cadillac, or as a small lift for the arms when doing prone leg work on the Spine Corrector.
Foam Cushion B, better in the middle
Foam Cushion B is next in line. While the same length and width as Foam Cushion A, it has three times the height, making it the perfect spacer. Place it between the knees to keep the adductors activated, or between the feet to keep them in line. It is just the right height when placed under the head for side-lying work on the Mat, Reformer, Cadillac, or anywhere else. Foam Cushion B has a creative side, so use it for unique variations— that’s where it really shines. For example, placed under one knee in a quadruped position, it gives space for suspended Leg Circles while keeping the pelvis level.
Foam Cushion C, the biggest and boldest
The largest of the three, and arguably the most visible, is Foam Cushion C. Widely recognized as the best choice to elevate the pelvis in a sitting position, Foam Cushion C is just as comfortable on the Reformer, Cadillac or Stability Chair™ as it is on the Mat. This is no one-trick pony, this cushion gives a boost to the standing or kneeling leg on Ballet Stretches, both on Cadillac and Ladder Barrel, and is willing to support any body part when needed. See it under a flexed top knee in a Side Leg Lift variation or under the hand in One Arm Press variations on the Stability Chair. When placed under the feet in Hip Rolls or Shoulder Bridge, it does its best to reduce the risk of cramping hamstrings.
Eco-Friendly Pilates Pad, the nifty newcomer
The last half-sibling in the group is the Eco-Friendly Pilates Pad. Broader and thinner, this cushion is as discreet as it is valuable. Perfect for when only a minor adjustment is required, the Eco-Friendly Pilates Pad can also be stacked for incremental increases. When the lower back is at risk of overuse and potential damage in prone, sliding one or more of these beauties under the ASIS (hip bones), can bring the desired length and encourage the proper muscular engagement. When a little extra cushioning is needed, call on this pad to protect the hands, knees, even the tailbone.
Make your next prop a cushion
Having each of these Foam Cushions on the team makes the average Pilates instructor invincible, able to conquer any postural issue or movement inefficiency that might come through the door. Give it a try and let us know what you think @Merrithew!