Vital Pilates

Sequential Spinal Movement

What is it?

Sequential Spinal Movement is a key characteristic of many mat work and equipment exercises. It is a movement that requires the spine to move one vertebra at a time, releasing the spine joint by joint, from top to bottom or bottom to top. The exercises need to be executed slowly and in a controlled way.

Why is is important?

Sequential Spinal Movement is an important aspect of Pilates as it balances the front and back of the body in strength and flexibility, helps to restore spinal mobility, and can also help with postural realignment.

Moving the spine sequentially is not easy for everyone. Factors such as stiffness in the spine, certain types of posture, lack of body awareness, lack of strength and some injury’s can make the movement more difficult. Working more slowly, using your breath and breaking the movement down into smaller sections can help. Over time the more sequential spinal movement exercises you do the more mobility you should get throughout your spine.

I think that a great exercise to practice sequential spinal movement is Spine Curl. I generally use this exercise to warm up and mobilise the spine at the beginning of a class.

Why don’t you try this exercise and see how you get on? You could start working slowly at the bottom of the spine with a pelvic tilt (not lifting the bottom) and then begin to work your way up and down through your spine one section at a time.

Spine Curl

Starting position – Lie on your back on the floor, knees bent and feet hip width. Spine is in Neutral which means your pelvis should be fairly flat and you should have a small gap behind your lower back. Arms are long resting by your sides.

Take a breath in to prepare, as you breathe out pull your abdominals in and press your lower back into the floor. There should be no gap between the floor and your lower back.  Tilt your pelvis and start to roll up through your spine one vertebrae at a time, lifting your bottom. Roll up all the way to the top, breath in and hold and then on the breath out start to roll back down through the spine one vertebrae at the time until you come back to your neutral position.

Start with 4-6 reps.

Top Tip – Thinking of your spine as a series of links like a bike chain can help. Squeeze both sides of your bottom evenly as you start to roll up and lift your bottom off the floor. Don’t lift too high, you don’t want your back to arch or to lift through your ribs.

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