Ever since it was introduced to the world in the early 20thcentury, Pilates has grown to become one of the most popular exercise regimens in the world. It also became subject to modified versions to accommodate different needs of its practitioners.
One of the most recognized versions of Pilates is STOTT Pilates. Developed in 1988 by Lindsay and Moira Merrithew, this version of Pilates focuses more on physical exercise, and has incorporated techniques from physical therapists, fitness experts, and sports scientists. While almost the same when it comes to routines, traditional and Stott Pilates have striking differences, which may serve as determinants at which type of Pilates class you would like to follow.
Imprint vs. Natural Spine
The primary difference that sets Stott Pilates apart from traditional and other Pilates variants is the focus on the natural curve of the spine. In the original method, routines begin with an imprint spine, wherein the practitioner lays his or her back flat on the floor. In the Stott method, the spine is allowed to be in its natural arched form when doing routines and this is due to the discovery of physical therapists that making movements in a flat back does just as much spinal friction than that of an arched back.
The neutral spine (which is the small natural curvature of the lower portion of the spine) is used as the basic alignment in the Stott technique; when both legs are in the air however, the imprinted spine position is used.
The Stott method follows a breathing pattern that involves the expansion of the rib cage towards the sides of the back. In this technique, the shoulders are not allowed to be lifted, and breathing should reach towards the lower part of the lungs to simulate more efficient gas exchange.
Pelvic placement focuses on stabilizing the pelvis and lower back in an imprinted or neutral position. In a neutral position, there should be no strain on the lower back when breathing and engaging the abdominals, while the hip bones and the pubic bone lie on a parallel position to the mat and the lower back does not press directly onto the mat.
In Stott Pilates, followers keep the sense of weight of the ribs gently on the mat, thus maintaining he natural curve of the back. The rib cage is not pushed into the mat, thus the placement of the ribcage is observed during inhaling or doing arm movements.
Stott Pilates aims to stabilize the shoulder blades or scapulae, since it helps avoid pain and exhaustion in the neck and upper shoulder areas. To achieve the right scapular placement, the routines are designed to make sure that there is a sense of width across the back and front sides of the shoulders and the shoulders will not round forward or squeeze towards the spine.
Head and neck placement
In STOTT Pilates, the natural curve of the cervical spine (neck) is observed, thus the head should be balanced directly over the shoulders when doing key positions such as standing, lying, or sitting. Practitioners make it a point to give enough space in between the chin and chest, so that the neck not only gets to stretch upward, but also keep the shoulder blades stabilized and the upper torso flexible enough to be lifted without the risk of contracting the abdominal areas.
Benefits of the Stott Technique
The Stott technique can be seen as a short-cut method of traditional Pilates, but it does more than just that. It can be viewed as a more time-efficient method of practicing Pilates, since while it does not follow most of the traditional method’s practices the Stott technique still hits core Pilates goals of balance, flexibility, and wellness, only at a shorter period of time.