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exercise of the month

Swimming

December 2019

Aim

This mid-back strengthening exercise requires much coordination and control.  Strong scapula stability is needed along with a good sense of opposition.

Starting Position

Lie prone in a star shape with the arms and legs apart and the head on the floor

Action

Inhale - To prepare

Exhale - To engage the core abdominals and stretch the right leg along the floor and lift it up a few inches.  Simultaneously stretch the left arm forwards and away from the body and raise it up a few inches off the floor. The head also lifts a few inches and the eyes are looking down to the floor so the back of the neck remains long

Inhale – To lower the right leg and left arm but they still remain in the air and do not touch the floor.  Simultaneously raise the opposite limbs, (left leg and right arm) up a few inches.  These limbs will now be slightly higher than the right leg and left arm.  Continue swapping alternate limbs in a “swimming” type action without any of the limbs touching the floor. 

Target Muscles

Core Abdominals, gluteals, scapula stabilisers, posterior deltoid, gluteals, hamstrings, back extensors, neck extensors

Watchpoints

Keep the waist long and even on both sides

Keep the distance between ear and shoulder even on both sides

As the limbs lift, ensure the body stays centred and does not rock over to one side

Do not lift the limbs too high, a couple of inches at the most.  The important thing is length

This exercise is performed at a fairly brisk pace.  However do not sacrifice speed for good technique.  Slow down if necessary

Maintain good core stability to protect the spine

Contra Indictions

Variation One (Adaptation)

This exercise may be performed without lifting the head for those with certain back or neck problems

Variation Two (Adaptation)

To lessen the strain on the lumbar spine, this may be performed without all four limbs being in the air simultaneously.  As one set of limbs rise up, lower the other limbs to the floor completely.  This way, only two limbs are off the floor at any time.  The chest and head still remain in the air.

Contra-Indications

Spinal extension may be uncomfortable for certain disc related back problems. 

Share this exercise

October 2019

This is one of Joseph Pilates original 34 exercises in the classic repertoire

View exercise >

October 2019

This mid-back strengthening exercise is great for improving posture and preventing round shoulders

View exercise >

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