Fitness and Sport

Pilates: Spine Stretch Forward

By Denise Vidal
Building on the twisting movement of the last blog, I would like to share with you a traditional Pilates exercise called the Saw. However, before we progress to the full movement, there is one more fundamental we need to discuss. We need to take a closer look at spinal flexion, and for that we need to take a closer look at the vertebra of the spine. Each vertebra has different protrusions which serve specific functions for spinal movement. Today we are going to look at the protrusions both above and below the vertebra, called facets. When I imagine the facets of the vertebra, I think of window blinds, how each blind fits above and below the others. When you flex your spine, it is similar to drawing the blinds closed, with each facet sliding away from the others. When you extend your spine, it is similar to drawing the blinds open, with each facet sliding towards each other. See if you can take this image and put it into movement. You can do this exercise either sitting down or standing up. Although, if you do this standing up, keep your knees slightly bent to lessen the force of gravity. To begin, take a deep breath. As you exhale drop your chin towards your chest and start to roll your spine down. In your mind’s eye, see the facets above and below your vertebra slide apart as if you are drawing the blinds closed. You need only to roll as far as you begin to flex at your waist. When you arrive there, take another deep breath. When you exhale, begin to roll your spine up. In your mind’s eye, see the facets slide over each other, like drawing the blinds closed. Repeat this action two more times, being sure to begin and end each movement with breathe.

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