This mid-back strengthening exercise requires much coordination and control. Strong scapula stability is needed along with a good sense of opposition.
Lie prone in a star shape with the arms and legs apart and the head on the floor
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.
Core Abdominals, gluteals, scapula stabilisers, posterior deltoid, gluteals, hamstrings, back extensors, neck extensors
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
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.
Spinal extension may be uncomfortable for certain disc related back problems.
To work the abdominals whilst achieving segmental control of the spineView exercise >
The Swimming exercise is one of Joseph Pilates key 34 exercises in the original Pilates repertoireView exercise >
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