Let’s combine the exercises from my 2 previous posts. Many core exercises (as are done in Pilates) start from a position called the “dead bug”. Although beginners frequently struggle with this position, we already have a strong foundation on how to properly activate your core muscles and to isolate your transverse abdominus. (Please refer to my previous posts if you are new to my site, or you may want to to review them for a a quick refresher if you already have been following along).
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Breathe in. As you breathe out, pull the lower abs firmly up and into the front of your spine. Breathe in, keeping the deep contraction of the lower abs. The next time you breathe out, slowly lift one leg off of the floor with the knee bent, to a 90/90 position. That is, the knee is directly over the hip joint and the lower leg is parallel to the floor. Breathe in, keeping the abs pulled in. As you breathe out, slowly lift the other leg to the 90/90 position as well. Do not rock the pelvis in any direction as you carefully lift each leg. Breathe in as you raise both arms toward the ceiling. As you breathe out, press the arms down to the floor as you lift your head up to look between your knees. Breathe in as you hold the position, breathe out as you slowly lower yourself down.
A few important points to remember: Use your eyes to help you lift your head off of the floor. Always exhale with the movement to help you deeply contract your abs. Move with concentration, control, and use the breathing to help you. (Again, these are 3 of the 6 basic principles of Pilates). Stop this exercise if it causes pain or discomfort. You may want to consult with a licensed physical therapist or qualified Pilates instructor for assistance.
This concludes my series on core strength. Thank you for joining me, and I wish you all the best in developing your “girdle of strength”!
Cheryl Ilov, PT, GCFP