July exercise of the month: the roll-over

J S Pilates Roll-overWhat’s the Pilates roll-over?

The Pilates Roll-over is a bit like the yoga pose called “The Plow”. You lie down on your back arms by your sides shoulder stabilised far from your ears and in imprint. You bring your legs up to table top, then straight into a diagonal: that’s your starting position. To perform the exercise your first inhale and bring your legs to a 90 degree angle and then exhale and bring your legs over your head. On the inhale you stay, stretch and strengthen your abdominal contraction, maybe touch the floor with your toes before bringing your legs up so that they are parallel to the floor, to prepare for the last and hardest part of the exercise. On the exhale you hold your shoulders down towards the mat and roll your spine back onto the mat, with control, until you are back in your starting position. BE CAREFUL when you do this exercise not to roll onto too far back onto your neck, and not to look sideways: you might hurt your neck.


Why do the roll-over?

The Roll-over is a great core strengthening exercise. To bring your legs over your head and to roll down onto your spine you have to use your thigh muscles and your abdominal muscles. It is also a great stretching exercise: as you perform it you stretch your lower back muscles – which are so difficult to reach and stretch; and you also stretch the back of your legs – your hamstring muscles, your calf muscles if you roll back with your feet flex.

How do I prepare for it?

If you cant do the full version of the exercise, a great way to strengthen your core for it is to bring your legs table top and then cross your ankles and bring your knees apart. Then on the exhale you use your abdominal strength to lift your hips of the mat and bring your feet higher towards the ceiling.

You can also do the roll over with a small pilates ball underneath your lower back, or with your lower back resting on an arc barrel: this way, your hips will be higher to start with and it will be easier to lift them up and bring your legs over your head.

You will have noticed this is one of the exercises we do in pretty much every class: that’s because it is a great exercise to stretch and strengthen at the same time!

Do you like this exercise? Which is your favourite variation of the Roll-over? Let me know in the comments below!