These exercises are intended to help those of you who wish to do some practice at home. You should already be familiar with them having attended a regular Pilates class. If not, I recommend that you start with a qualified instructor before attempting them.
Whenever you practice Pilates, remember your ABC’s:
Alignment – start in good alignment; that is pelvis/spine neutral and legs hip-width apart
Breathing – breathe wide and full into your ribcage; in to prepare, out to centre then move
Centring – contract pelvic floor and abdominals, drawing your navel towards your spine
Start by lying in your back with your legs bent, your arms resting by your sides and your head supported by a cushion.
Spine curls (to mobilise your spine) – curl up* through your spine into a bridge position, keeping your weight even through your feet, moving one vertebra at a time up and down – 6 rep’s
Knee pulls (to strengthen lower abdominals) – knee fold one leg so that it is bent at 90° above your hip, reach one arm forward so that the palm of your hand meets your thigh, breathe out to draw your abdominals in towards your spine and pull your knee against your hand – 3 rep’s on each leg – then do another 3 rep’s with legs in a double knee fold
Hundred (to strengthen abdominals, warm up and get your circulation going) – with both legs in a double knee fold, curl up* and float your arms off the floor, reaching towards your toes, beat your arms and breathe in for 5 counts then out for 5 counts up to one hundred counts – as you get stronger you can straighten your legs towards 90° and then begin to lower them towards the floor
- Strong abdominal muscles help to support your back.
- You can adapt each of these exercises to suit your level and how your back feels on the day, e.g. for the hundred you can start with just 20 or 30 counts and gradually build up.
*If you suffer from osteoporosis then don’t curl up, just lift straight up and down with a flat back for spine curls and keep your head down for the hundred.