The Pilates Elders said in all inversions, including the Scissors and Bicycle, the shoulder blades should be on the mat. This prevents unnecessarily loading the C7-T2 area and neck, which can be dangerous for some people. This requirement challenges you to stretch the flesh (a Kathy Grant term she used for a skill she created) around the xiphoid axis. You can also think of sliding the tissue around the ribcage. This technique stretches the thoracic area and opens the inferior – posterior ribs. If you are on your neck, you are not stretching the thoracic area, and you are literally placing your weight on your neck… Think of dropping your heart down as your feet reach up to obtain the opposition you desire to animate the center and lengthen (and unload) the spine. This is a nice image on the Short Spine Stretch too. On the descent of the Roll Over, Kathy Grant would say “lower your chest away from your chin”. This is an exceptional cue while performing the inversion skills (even before you roll down!). You can also think of Kathy’s cue “you have a lemon between the chin and chest.” You do not want to make lemonade (the ominous “chin to chest” (dural stress)) or you do not want to lose your lemon. In this picture of the lovely Raisa Punkki, Raisa could actually have her chest slightly farther away from her chin with even more of her scapulae on the mat. (She does make this Scissors look so easy when it is very difficult, and what beautiful lines!). As those who study from me know, opening up the thoraco-lumbar region is a pre-requisite for proper pelvic positioning in the Footwork, Leg Springs etc.
A few more points on the Scissors and Bicycle: Unfortunately, for the Scissors the body to arm length proportions may interfere with successful performance (short body -long arms). If this is the case there are ways to move the arms around, but you might want to try it on a roller or Spine Corrector (although so many of them are too big for proper placement). Remember thumbs next to your fingers (to prevent injury of the thumbs). Next blog post: The Bicycle.