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Following on from the last theme of the week Spinal Rotation, we are going to look at spinal flexion (bending) and extension (arching).
We know from the free Posture Correction in Standing video on the Pilates page (14 minutes) that there are 2 main types of posture problems – lordotic (pear) and sway (banana).
  • In the lordotic posture (pear) the arch in the low back, the stoop in the upper back and the arch in the neck are all exaggerated.
  • In the sway posture (banana), the low back arches at the base of the low back, the stoop in the upper back and the arch in the neck are also exaggerated.
  • This can lead to damage and pain over time.
  • Therefore, in Pilates, for both posture types we focus on flexing (flattening and bending) the low back and neck, and extending (flattening and arching) the upper back.
  • So we need to increase our awareness of how to minimise these excessive curves.
  • We need to increase our spinal flexibility into lumbar (low back) flexion for example in the cat, roll downs or C-shape into roll back.
  • We need to increase our flexibility into thoracic extension for example in the cow, diamond press or cobra.
  • We need to increase our flexibility into cervical flexion for example in the cat, roll downs, neck stretches in lying with our head on the ball.

EXAMPLE EXERCISE – CAT / COW on the mat or reformer:

In this exercise:

  • The CAT should emphasise the flexing (bending) of the low back and neck NOT the rounding of the shoulders or upper back.
  • The COW should emphasise the extending (arching) of the upper back NOT the arching of the neck or low back.

In the free video below ‘Mobilise Your Spine and Strengthen Your Core with Pilates’ (25 minutes) we focus on flexion and extension exercises of the spine especially focusing on:

  • Flattening and flexing (bending) the low back and neck.
  • Flattening and extending (arching) the upper back.

We hope you enjoy trying this free video and thinking about these movements in your Pilates class this week.