Roll up

Our work and daily life involves much more sitting and much less exercise than it did for our parents and as a result we have seen an increase in back pain and stiffness. In this exercise we match the benefits of conscious breathing with rolling and unrolling the spine.

The book “Return to life through Contrology” by Joseph Pilates encourages us to ‘concentrate on the correct movements each time you exercise.’ This idea of centering the mind and focusing solely on the co-ordination of the breath and movement is a powerful way to practise and truly experience the benefits of the Pilates Method.

Roll Down

Roll Down – Standing against a wall, place your head, upper back and pelvis on the wall, stand with your feet one foot-length away from the wall parallel to each other and your knees slightly bent. Start by nodding your head and continue to work your way down the spine, one vertebrae at a time. If there is a section in your back where it feels hard to articulate and a bit stiff, pause there and take an extra breath to let that area release. Once you reach the bottom, pause, breathe in and then roll back up commencing by moving the pelvis to send the lower back to the wall, continuing to articulate the rest of the spine , using the wall to measure the articulation and provide feedback.

Repeat 3-5 times.

Spring Bar Roll Back

Spring bar Roll Back – As this exercise can only be done on a Cadillac in a Pilates studio, you might not be able to give it a go. However, it’s a great visual to assist you in learning more about the movement of the spine and a useful stepping stone in being able to practise the full Roll Up. It is well worth a watch.

Roll Back

Roll Back – Sit tall, legs bent in parallel, feet flat. Arms forward, hands interlaced.  Start by drawing the two sit bones together, lifting through the base of pelvis and rocking the pelvis back, roll back to just before the low back touches, pause, breathe out deeply x 6 times, then exhale to deepen the abdominals, return to sit and stack, adding in an upper back release into extension at the top.

Repeat 5-6 times.

Roll Up

Once you feel capable you can try the Roll Up.

To start, lie on your back on the floor with your arms reaching overhead behind you. Legs are pressed gently together in parallel. Inhale, reach arms forward, slide sternum to pubic bone to bring upper body into chest lift, exhale and continue to roll spine off the floor into a long ‘C’ curve, arms parallel to the floor. Inhale to hold, exhale to return to start position.