Do you remember the Isosceles Triangle, two long sides and one shorter side? This is Side Support, or the Side Bend as Joseph Pilates called it. The two long sides are the sides of your body from shoulders to feet, and the short side is the supporting arm.
Joseph Pilates tells us “this exercise concentrates on arm, shoulder and wrist muscles; stretches hip and waistline, and develops balance and coordination.” The way we teach it also includes engaging obliques, deep abdominal and pelvic floor muscles to give added stability.
You’ve already started side supporting work last month with Side Kick 1 and 2. Let’s now take it further.
Side Support Preps
- Isometric hold – lie on your side with your feet stacked, the elbow of your bottom arm right underneath your shoulder and your top arm resting along your body. Exhale to press your hips up into the air and hold as you long as you can without collapsing through the shoulder or drooping your hips.
- Rotations – start in the same position, but step your top foot in front and bend your top arm and take it up towards the ceiling. Exhale to place your top arm on the ground next to your other arm as you swivel around to a front support. Inhale to lift the other arm off and continue swivelling your feet and hips until you’re in a side support on the opposite side to where you started. Make sure to get both hips and shoulders facing your new direction each time you transition. Repeat for 10 transitions.
Sit sideways on the floor with legs bent, top foot in front and hand placed below the shoulder. Inhale to press your body into a lateral plank position, feet anchoring into the floor. Only your hand and feet are touching the floor. Raise your top arm to a letter ‘T’ position. Exhale to return to the start.
If that feels good and you are stable, now start with your legs straight. Inhale as before and press up into the lateral plank, top arm to letter ‘T’.
There are many variations to increase challenge here that you might like to try. They include:
- Feet resting one on top of the other
- Hold the position for 15-30 seconds, do several repetitions remembering your breathing too.
- Wave the top arm forward and sense how that movement destabilises you. Add a small hand weight.
Things to watch out for when you are not doing this exercise under supervision:
- Make sure that your hand remains in line with your shoulder. You really want a lovely strong connection between shoulder and shoulder blade.
- Are your shoulder blades lifting up to help you? Glide them down back into position (an exhale helps here).
- Watch that your pelvis doesn’t slump down to the floor or stick up too high. You want to achieve a long line from the top of your head to your toes. Pressing that supporting hand into the floor will help here.
- Try starting with the supporting elbow bent with weight on your forearm (as described in the ‘Side support preps’), then progress to the straight-arm technique described above.
What you will feel
A lovely stretch along your torso and hips
- Surprised at how quickly you will master this exercise
- Able to hold the position and remain stable for longer
- Wonderful shoulder strengthening
- You will notice that one side will be easier than the other. Why not start on the less able side, do 3 reps, change to the stronger side for 3 reps and then return to the first side. You will become stronger more quickly that way.