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exercise of the month

Swan Dive

October 2019

Aim

This exercise is extremely advanced and potentially dangerous if performed incorrectly.  This should not be done by those who are beginners or with any back problems or osteoporosis. 

Starting Position

Lie prone with the legs straight and the feet slightly wider than hip distance apart.  Push the torso upwards into a cobra (page 96) position, hyper-extending the spine.  The hands are slightly wider than shoulder width apart.

Action

Inhale - Engage the core abdominals, draw down the scapula and “dive” down towards the floor.  The legs raise up into the air as the torso touches the floor.  The arms reach forwards at a “ten to two” position.  The head and arms do not touch the floor

Exhale – Keeping the momentum, quickly raise the upper body back up into extension with the arms up above the head, still in the “ten to two” position.  Simultaneously drop the legs back down to the floor.  Continue “rocking” back and forth a couple of times and then -

Inhale - To return to the starting position

Target Muscles

Back extensors, trapezius, neck extensors. posterior deltoid, scapula stabilisers, gluteals, hamstrings

Watchpoints

Ensure the scapula stabilising muscles are working hard to ensure that the shoulders stay away from the ears

Keep the shoulder blades apart to avoid the tendency to nip the shoulder blades together as the arms lift up

Try to keep the cradle position with an even curve so that the spine moves as a whole.  This will help to avoid “flinging” type movements where the arms and legs move separately

If the spine feels generally uncomfortable in any way, then discontinue this exercise

Maintain strong engagement of the core abdominals to support the spine

Contra Indictions

Variation One (Adaptation)

Start lying prone in a star shape.  Exhale to raise all four limbs off the floor.  Inhale to lower.  This takes away the momentum and the hyperextension from the full version.  However, this version should still be used with caution since it still places great stress on the lumbar spine.

Contra-Indications

This exercise may be unsuitable for certain neck and back problems and should only be used with caution by advanced practitioners and those without any back problems or joint problems.

Share this exercise

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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