Move Your Spine! by Jessica Heinz
In a Pilates workout we move the spine through articulation, flexion, extension, rotation and side bending. This helps keep your spine supple and strong.
Begin your workout by taking a few deep breaths. Focus on filling your lungs with air as you inhale and engage your pelvic floor and abdominals as you exhale. This will bring a mindfulness to your whole workout.
Lie down on your back with your knees bent, feet on the floor and prepare for hip rolls (articulation of the spine). Take a breath in in neutral pelvis (hips in line with your pubic bone), as you breathe out peel your spine off of the mat one vertebrae at a time until you’re in a bridge position from chest to knees. Take another breath in and hold the bridge, then as you exhale sequentially articulate your spine back to the mat from top to bottom. Hip rolls lengthen your spine and strengthen the abdominals and gluts. Repeat 4-6 times.
double leg stretch (spinal flexion) bring your fingertips to your forehead palms facing the ceiling, elbows wide (keeping the fingertips on the forehead instead of hands behind the head helps prevent using your hands to pull your head forward) nod your chin toward your chest and curl your chest off of the mat into thoracic flexion. Make sure your abdominals are working to stabilize your pelvis as you take your legs to tabletop. As you breathe out stretch your legs to a high diagonal and keep your abdominals flat (not popping). Breathe in and bend your knees back to tabletop. Repeat 8-10x
For swimming prep (spinal extension prep) begin on hands and knees with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Breathe in to prepare and as you breathe out reach your right arm and left leg away from each other and lift until they are in line with your torso (use your abdominals to stabilize your torso and try not to let anything shift) breathe in and return to your starting position. Repeat 8x alternating sides each time.
For spinal rotation sit on a chair (or stability ball for an extra challenge) with your feet planted firmly on the floor. Place your fingertips on your forehead palms facing forward elbows wide. Breathe in and lengthen your spine, breathe out and rotate your spine initiating the movement from the obliques. (Keep your hips still) breathe out and return to the center. Repeat 8-10x alternating sides.
For seated mermaid stretch (side bending) stay seated and reach your arms out to the sides. Breathe in and lengthen your spine, as you breathe out side bend to the right reaching you right arm to the floor and your left arm to the ceiling. Breath in and hold breathe out returning to the center. Repeat 6-8x alternating sides.
Keeping your spine healthy and moving will help you stand taller and work smarter. – JH
Jessica Heinz earned a B.A. in Dance teaching and choreography from Mercyhurst College in Erie, PA and is a fully certified STOTT PILATES instructor. She has taught at the Ballet Memphis School, The Pilates Centre of Ballet Memphis, Poised and esprit de core in the Bay Area and currently has a home studio in Minnetrista, MN.
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