This is another Pilates exercise, although it’s a greatly modified version. For those of you that can master this one, we’ll reward you with the full version in the future (it will take months of practice to build the strength needed for the full variation). This is not an easy exercise to execute properly. It’s easy to use jerky movements to force your way to the top, however it’s extremely difficult to do with the fluidity, control and precision needed to build the core muscles.
Start sitting up with the knees bent hip-distance apart. Reach the left leg forward so the thighs and knees are about parallel. Sit up tall, feeling the spine lengthen and the shoulders drop down away from the ears. As you exhale, curl the tailbone underneath you and slowly round the back down onto the mat one vertebrae at a time. From the side your lower back should look like the letter C. If the back was properly rounded, your lower back will be the first thing to touch the mat on the way down. Keep your abdominals engaged as you lay the head and shoulders all the way back, taking a full inhale. As you exhale, re-curl the spine back into the letter C and try to slowly, one vertebrae at a time peel your back off the mat (no jerking or using momentum!). Try to keep the shoulders relaxed away from the ears and the abdominal muscles hallowed out. It should take a minimum of five seconds to roll either up or down. The slower you go, the more muscle you will use. See if you can complete 8 reps on each side without losing good form.
Pro tip: A common problem with abdominal work is that we often focus too much on making the stomach feel “hard,” rather than “scooped out.” If you don’t want bulging, protruding abdominal muscles, make sure not to let the stomach balloon out while you’re working.Tags: back pain, core strength, injury prevention, pilates, rehab, sports medicine