Joseph Pilates said “If your spine is inflexibly stiff at 30, you are old. If it is completely flexible at 60, you are young.”
If there is one part of your body you want to keep balanced and strong your spine is it! You only get one and an injury to the spine is not only painful but dangerous so maintaining the strength of your vertebrae is at the top of any Pilates Instructors list. Computers, cars and couch sitting all make for a slouchy spine so to move in the oppsite direction helps to balance our bodies out and improve posture.
Extension exercises aim to mobilise each joint of the vertebrae and prevent them from becoming stiff or stuck. We want to be able to activate each segment of the spine leading from the cervical through the thoracic and returning with that same mobility as we lengthen ourselves back down to the ground.
Flexibility and strength go hand in hand so an exercise like Swan* is perfect for engaging and lengthening the muslces attached to your spine,.
Love Kelley xx
Start by lying face down on the mat with your nose floating about an inch off as if you have a little marble underneath your nose
Hands are placed gently beside your chest on the mat in line with your pecs, elbows pointing towards your heels and scapula gliding down your back towards your glutes
Gently draw your belly button to your spine activating your deep abdominals
Inhale to prepare
As you exhale, roll your nose away like you're rolling away that little marble under your nose first gliding up through your cervical (upper spine region/neck) spine followed by the peeling up of each piece of your rib cage
When you've floated up to your lowest rib, apply a little pressure through the heels of your hands to press yourslef up until the spine and hips are in extension
Holding at the top as you inhale, make sure you feel a connection between the lowest rib and the top of the pelvis so the lumbar spine (lower back) is protected by your abdominals
Exhale and place the front of the body back down on the mat feeling yourself growing taller and longer as you do. Release the hips back to the mat, then the belly button, gliding down through each set of your ribs and returning to where you began
Repeat the exercise around 4-6 times and then rest back in Child's Pose to lengthen out through the spine
*If trying this at home, if you suffer from any of the following conditions this exercise is not appropriate for you:
- facet joint syndrome
- pelvic instability - sacroiliac joint (SIJ) dysfunction, pubic symphisis separation
- osteitis pubis
- total hip joint replacement
- trochanteric bursitis
*do not attempt these exercises if you have any acute injuries or are unsure as to whether this is an appropriate exercise for you to do before consulting a professional. If you have any questions feel free to shoot them through to me at firstname.lastname@example.org