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Reformer: Stomach Massage Hands Back


Reformer Stomach Massage Series: Hands Back aka “Round Back” 

– Strengthen your abdominals and massage your internal organs!!

In this series, we revisit the Footwork that we started with (have we ever left it – I wonder?) but now we’re sitting up and trying not to allow thee Reformer to push us off our sit bones!

What’s it good for?

  • Massage of the internal organs.
  • Strengthening the abdominal area – especially the “transversus abdominis”.
  • Strengthening and stabilising the spinal muscles whilst the spine is trying to lengthen.
  • Stretching the front of the chest (pectoral muscles).
  • If you’re tight in the hips you will benefit from the hip opening effect of this exercise.
  • There is an element of footwork to this exercise so you will be strengthening your calves and mobilising your ankles.


Related exercises?

Single and Double Leg Pull on the Mat.  Footwork on the Cadillac and Wunda Chair.



“Hands Back” starts at approx 2:08

Stomach Massage Hands Back: Quick “how tos” …

  • Springs = the same that you used in the Footwork.
  • Repetitions = x5-10, typically x10
  • Headrest = down
  • Footrest = up


The Set Up

  • You’ve just completed Stomach Massage Round Back here…
  • Your hands hold onto the sides of the shoulder rests with slightly soft elbow, so that you’re not jamming yourself in.
  • If once in this position the springs should be closed.  If not, try an alternative sitting position slightly further back.


The Stomach Massage Round Back – “how to”

  • Sit in the position described in the setup section.
  • Pull your abdominals inwards and upwards whilst sitting as tall as you can.

Exhale: without allowing your heels to drop press out of the carriage by straightening the legs.
Inhale:  with fully straight legs, lower your heels keeping them together and ankle bones separate.
Exhale: push the carriage out again by lifting your heels and keeping them lifted.
Inhale: bring the courage back in  to close the springs whilst keeping your heels up.
Once you’ve mastered this sequence try working with a brisk rhythm but without losing precision or flow

Hints and Tips

  • If you can’t sit upright from the start – move slightly further back on the carriage.  As you gain more mobility and longer hamstrings, you ‘ll be able to sit closer again….
  • Keep your body still as you push the carriage backwards and forwards – no rocking and rolling!
  • Keep support yourself – not too much weight through your arms.
  • The third part of this exercise sequence is often omitted: press the carriage out, drop the heels then lift your heels before returning the carriage to the stopper.
  • Imagine you are sitting on two inverted mountain peaks – your sit bones – don’t fall off them.
  • Push your hands down to give yourself more lift!
  • If in doubt, try taking your hands off the shoulder rests slightly – what happens?


Variations & Modifications

  • Try leaning the Short Box against the Shoulder Rests and using as a temporary support until you get stronger.
  • Some reformers don’t allow you to move the football all the gear bar backwards and forwards in this case lower the football down one notch.
  • If you are very tight across the front of your chest use a cunha, bar or Spread Eagle Board from the Cadillac to widen your grip place.
  • For a further challenge, interlock your hands and lift your arms backwards and upwards.
  • Try the One Legged Version with your leg below the footbar.



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