To strengthen the scapula stabilising muscles of the mid-back in order to improve posture and prevent round shoulders
Lie prone with the legs straight and the feet hip distance apart. The elbows are bent and the hands are placed one on top of the other on the floor. The forehead is resting on top of the hands. The chin is tucked in.
Inhale - To prepare
Exhale - Engage the core abdominals and slide the scapula down the back. Raise the head off the floor, pushing the back of the skull upwards to the ceiling but keep the eyes looking down (i.e. chin tucked in). Try to think of energy lines in the body. The elbows push out East and West (but the hands do not move). The scapula slide south and the head reaches north so the back of the neck is long. This is a difficult exercise to get right and usually depends upon the correct height and alignment of the head and chest off the floor
Inhale – To return the body back to the floor again
Back extensors, lower and mid trapezius, neck extensors, posterior deltoid
Ensure the scapula stabilising muscles are working hard to ensure that the shoulders stay away from the ears
Try to “play around” with this exercise until a sensation is felt around the shoulder blades. There are several factors to play with.
1) The height of the head and chest off the floor
2) The alignment of the head (i.e. not pushed backwards too far resulting in the back of the neck shortening; nor forwards too far resulting in too much chin tuck). Maintain the alignment of the cervical spine with the thoracic spine. Experiment by moving the head in order to find the correct position
3) The amount of weight pushing through the forearms. Too much weight pushing through the arms results in less work being done by the back muscles therefore relying on the arms to push to body upwards. Experiment with all these 3 factors until a strong sensation is felt around the shoulder blades
Variation One (Progression)
Exhale to raise the head as before but keep the hands attached to the forehead. Therefore the head, arms and hands lift off the floor together. Inhale to lower.
This exercise may be unsuitable for certain neck and back problems if discomfort is felt whilst performing the repetitions.
This is one of Joseph Pilates original 34 exercises in the classic repertoireView exercise >
This mid-back strengthening exercise is great for improving posture and preventing round shouldersView exercise >
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