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exercise of the month

Reverse Long Spine on the Reformer

September 2019

Aim

Long spine is a different variation of the short spine exercise.  The legs are extended throughout and the carriage will not touch the stopper until the movement is finished.

Starting Position

The headrest is down. Lie supine on the carriage and place one foot on the footbar.  Perform a single leg plie to extend this leg fully.  Bend the other leg towards the chest and place the strap around the foot, close to the heel. Keep the carriage still with that leg by maintaining an even tension in the strap.  Gently take the other foot off the footbar and place the strap around this foot. Push both legs away from the body until they are extended to  around 45 degrees or lower or wherever a neutral pelvis allows. Open out the legs to the side around shoulder width apart

Action

Inhale – To engage the powerhouse and hinge the extended legs in towards the chest to around 90 degrees or as close to 90 degrees as a neutral pelvis allows. The carriage will move towards the stopper

Exhale – To engage the powerhouse and peel the spine off the carriage, one vertebra at a time until the body comes up to a shoulder stand position (N.B.  the body weight rests in between the shoulders and NOT on the neck). The carriage will remain still so an even tension in the straps must be maintained.  The legs are still apart

Inhale –To adduct the legs back together.  Maintain the shoulder stand. Keep an even tension in the straps to prevent the carriage from moving

Exhale – To roll the spine back down onto the carriage, one vertebra at a time. The carriage must remain still

Inhale – To prepare

Exhale – To push the legs away from the chest to around 45 degrees, returning the carriage back to the starting position. 

Target Muscles

Hamstrings, core abdominals, gluteals, adductors, lateral rotators

Watchpoints

Ensure that the knees are not locked out as this will place more strain on the joint

Think of the femur and pelvis working separately. There can be a tendency, as the femur comes towards the body, to take the pelvis with it (i.e. almost as if they were fused), resulting in a posterior pelvic tilt

Ensure that the knees do not go any wider than shoulder width apart

Initially there is some slight movement expected in the carriage until the body works out how much tension is needed in the straps. This may take several attempts before gauging correctly. Eventually no movement in the carriage is aimed for

Contra Indictions

Variation One (Progression)

Super advanced variation – not to be attempted lightly!  Whilst up in the shoulder stand, perform the half frogs exercise.  As the knees bend and stretch, the carriage will move accordingly.  The legs push away at an angle of around 70 degrees.  The spine must not move here and the body remains in the shoulder stand.  This requires much work from the powerhouse to maintain the position.  If there is any strain felt in the lower back, discontinue this exercise.

Contra-Indications

This series of exercises are unsuitable for those with knee problems.  The turned out position may be unsuitable for sciatica.

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October 2019

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

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October 2019

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

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