24 gifts – day 21: Lower back fascia release with 1 ball and simple movements

Lower back fascia release

Low back fascia release with 1 ball

How starting your exercise off-neutral can be as valuable as starting in neutral for releasing your lower back

In pilates, we focus on finding neutral starting positions which can simplify movements for the clients and also simplify teaching a movement. In neutral, your myofascial structures might also be in a better starting position for contracting and releasing.

However, our body is seldom in neutral. While we move, we go in and out of neutral all the time, no matter the position the body is in.

So how would it be to start a movement ‘off-neutral’? I never really thought about it until some years ago when I attended a workshop with Nathan Gardner with Body Control Pilates where he used this idea to rebalance the spirals in the body.

Does it surprise you to learn that I was excited to bring this idea into my own practice and into my own classes? ;o)

I want to stress that it doesn’t mean that starting your exercises in neutral is a wrong choice. Not At All! I just think that incorporating off-neutral starting positions can expand your tool box of creating variations to well-known exercises and stimulating our small grey cells to avoid going too much into autopilot.

This exercise wasn’t from Nathan’s workshop but certainly inspired by it. We will explore an off-neutral starting position in the pelvis by lying on a Franklin ball. We will do 2 very simple movement which in Body Control Pilates, we call Compass:

  • Lifting the pelvis up and down imaging lifting & lowering our ASIS (East – West)
  • Going into anterior and posterior rotation of the pelvis (North – South).


If the off-neutral starting position is too much for your sacrum, you can place a cushion/blanket under the side of the pelvis which is not resting on the ball.


What is the exercise about?

  • Mobilising the hip joints
  • Releasing tension in our myofascial structures around the pelvis and lower back.


What do I like about it?

  • You use natural simple movements of the hip joints to create awareness of where to move from.
  • You have a proprioceptive aspect because you lie on 1 ball. This stimulates the communication between the brain and body and there is therefore more clarity about where the movement happens.
  • You have the release aspect because you are massaging your myofascial system.
  • You improve myofascial tone in the whole pelvic/lumbar region.
  • You can improve your overall posture.
  • Your body needs to coordinate the movement in a different way than normal – this stimulates the brain.
  • You activate your glute maximus and hamstrings in a very dynamic way without focusing too much on activating them.
  • The lower part of your rectus abdominus & the lower obliques get a nice little workout.
  • This is a great way to create a variation to a well-known exercise/movement.


What prop do you need?

1 orange Franklin ball – or similar texture and size


Where to place the prop

At the back of your pelvis, just above the ilium bone and beside the lumbar spine


Which course/workshop is the exercise from?


And here is the video …

Video length: 6:15 minutes


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