Day: July 11, 2011

Pilates Exercise of the Month: Neck Pull

Purpose:
Strengthens abdominals in shortened as well as lengthen positions, stretches hamstrings, articulates spine and improves posture.

  1. 1. Lie on back with your hands layered behind your head, elbows wide. Legs are straight out on mat; hip width apart; feet flexed.
  2. 2. Inhale, to begin curling forward. Draw the weight of your head forward and round up sequentially – head, shoulders, ribs and finally pelvis. Think of “peeling” your self up off the mat as you curl forward; elbows wide.
  3. 3. Exhale, as upper body folds over legs, elbows still wide, abs scooped in, legs firmly anchored on mat, toes pointed up.
  4. 4. Inhale, to roll up tall to a seated position, as if “pressing against an imaginary wall behind you”. Remember to lift up- not back.
  5. 5. Exhale, as you slightly tuck your tailbone underneath you and begin slowly rolling your spine, vertebra by vertebra, back down to the mat.

Repeat 5-8 times

Head to Toe Checklist:

  • Remain fixed in the lower body. Imagine your feet are two lead weights that can’t be budged.
  • Avoid letting abs bulge out or legs rise off the mat.
  • Keep elbows wide; never tug on neck, let the powerhouse do the work.
  • Articulate your spine as you peel off the mat, press each vertebra into the mat on the way down.

Note:
If you have a stiff or weak back or difficulty articulating through the spine, avoid the exercise.

Modifications:

  1. Hand positon #1: Crawl your hands up your legs as you round up. Keep knees soft and heels pressed to mat.
  2. Hand position #2: Fold your arms in around your head.
  3. Or combine the two modifications, walking your hands up your legs as you round up and placing them behind your head to lower down.