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Why Pilates? Why the Bridge? featuring Janice Whitehead

My exercise of choice is Bridge because it is the go-to exercise for, well, almost everything, and you need no props. Often thought of as a beginner exercise, in just it’s basic form, it helps tone and define your abs, butt and hips. The move is often used for rehabilitation because it isolates and strengthens the gluteus (butt) muscles. In addition it helps in the prevention and elimination of back pain as it strengthens and works the spinal muscles. The end result of this strengthening is that it improves core and spinal stabilization needed in daily activities, other exercises and sports.

One of many the reasons bridge is my favorite is that there are a myriad of variations. In basic bridge, the client is lying on his/her back with knees and feet hip-width apart and flat on the floor. The torso is lifted elevating the hips and ideally creating a straight line from the knees to the shoulders. In my warm-up for a Pilates session, I have clients slowly roll the torso up, articulating the spin to achieve the raised position. For this warm up, the movement into and out of bridge is continuous.

Later for strengthening, I have clients hold the position anywhere from 10 to 30 seconds . By adding an additional cue of rooting your heels to the earth or pulling your heels toward you without moving them, the hamstrings can also be targeted. Some of the other variations I use can involve props: putting the triad ball between your knee

s targets your inner thigh muscles, aiding in hip joint release, and placing a magic circle on the outside of your knees aids in loosening the back and stabilizing the hips. In addition, there is also a one-legged variation which further isolates and strengthens glutes and hamstrings and works the hip flexors, quads and oblique’s.

Working one on one with a Pilates instructor allows the instructor to monitor client technique and progress. While bridge seems a simple exercise, often clients are not achieving the proper lift, or are exaggerating the lift of their ribs or putting pressure on their necks. Also, while it can be done without props, the fun starts when you take this exercise to the Pilates equipment, such as the tower with arms on the breathing bar to challenge stabilization and work the shoulder girdle, to the reformer to achieve that lovely stretch of the spine in semi-circle or to my favorite piece of equipment, the low chair, where you do the position with your feet on moving pedals, working everything.


pilates bridge strength flexible

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