My journey to overall health and wellness... Thanks for coming along!


Thursday, July 22, 2010


The roll up...
It's one of those exercises that people love to hate. Unfortunately for them it's a very integral part of the classic Pilates workout and is (or should be) found in every class. Since this question of "why can't I..." has come up a lot lately in my classes, I thought I would address it. First things first: Don't beat yourself up! This is not an easy exercise. In fact I find it to be one of the most challenging. There are many factors that contribute to difficulty with the roll up. The most common are 1) weak abdominals and 2) tightness in the hamstrings, lower backs and hips- yes, I am talking to all you desk sitters. So what do we do about it??
First of all, we make sure we are engaging the abdominals. Imagine you are wearing a tight corset around your middle that is pulling all those muscles in toward the center of your body- your belly button pulls in to your spine, your sides move in away from the walls around you, and even your back muscles hug up away from the mat. The truth of it is, you are wearing a corset- your TRANSVERSE ABDOMINALS. This band of muscle wraps around your waist from front to back. Yes, you have abs in your back! As you roll up, keep these muscles engaged and think of sliding your ribs toward your hips. I like to imagine I have springs on the sides of my body and they are shortening as I roll up off the mat.
Second, we MODIFY! Modifications have such an ugly stigma that I would love to get rid of. If you are tight and need to bend your knees... BEND YOUR KNEES, and if that's not enough bring your hands behind your hamstrings, and USE YOUR ARMS to help you roll up with control.
You have to train the right muscles to fire in the right order, which will not happen if you give in to momentum, hurl yourself off the floor and let your feet fly up in the air. Speaking of feet flying up in the air... ENGAGE YOUR GLUTES AND LEGS! If your legs are straight, glue the legs together and down to the mat. If they are bent, press into all four corners of your feet and keep the knees tracking right along with the hips. Engaging the glutes and inner thighs will help keep the feet on the floor. A prop like a yoga block or ball between the thighs (above the knees) can also help keep the legs engaged. If these modifications are still not enough of you are dealing with serious medical issues, stick with the half roll back. For this, start sitting up tall and roll back half way (about the top of your pants) and stop and then roll back up and round over the legs as you would in the full roll up.
Lastly, I've said it before and I will say it again... Patience. One thing that most definitely will NOT help you is frustration. Be patient, and allow your body to get used to the idea of the roll up and it will come. I promise!

image1: bombshell

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very good advice - the block or ball always works for me, and of course patience.