“If your spine is inflexibly stiff at 30, you are old; if it is completely flexible at 60, you are young.”

This quote is from Joseph Pilates’ book reminding us that a flexible spine is a key factor in the enjoyment of life.

Think of this next exercise as the lubrication of a bike chain, your spinal vertebrae.

Roll Back

Roll Back – Sit tall, legs bent in parallel, feet flat. Arms lengthened out from shoulders. Exhale to scoop the abdominal muscles and roll back onto the back of the pelvis, inhale to hold here, exhale to deepen the scoop and return by flexing forward until shoulders are above the hips, inhale to stack up to sitting straight. Do 3-6 times.

Add challenge by performing the Roll Back with hands behind your head. Do 3-6 times

Next roll back all the way to the floor and return as in part 1. Do 3-6 times.


Sit on the mat with knees bent; clasp one hand on each ankle. Start with your spine in a flexed forward position, head close to your knees. Balance with feet just off the floor. Inhale to scoop abdominals and roll back to scapula (shoulder blades). Exhale to return to balance position. Do 3-6 times.

Things to watch out for when you are not doing this exercise under supervision:

  • This is a movement for a healthy spine without any issues
  • The spine remains in a flexed position throughout. It does not straighten at the end of the movement
  • Start without feet off the floor until you can achieve the movement
  • Roll only to the scapula, not the neck
  • Slightly lift the elbows to maintain should stability – take care that the shoulders are not lifted
  • Maintain closeness of head to knees

What you will feel:

  • Joy at being able to do an exercise that was done without thought as a child but now requires good abdominal strength, mobility of the spine and balance
  • Warmth in your abdominal muscles as they work to support you in this exercise
  • Lovely flexibility in your spine