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Return to Life: #8 Spine Stretch Forward



Return to Life: Spine Stretch

– It’s a sitting down preparation for the next exercise: “Open Leg Rocker”!

This exercise will stretch out the whole of your back line: from your arches, through your achilles, gastroc, soleus, hamstrings, glutes and spinal muscles all the way up to and including your neck.  And if you need it, it’ll teach you to use your abdominals to curve your spine.

What’s it good for?

  • Spinal mobility and finding a neutral spine in sitting up straight on your sit bones – easier said than done for most people.
  • This exercise helps us to learn how to sit without any support.
  • The Hamstring stretching in this exercise will help you with the above point: it’s a two way stretch.
  • It helps to align our ankles and feet reducing over supination or pronation.
  • For people who have a tend not to fold into two at the hip, the Spine Stretch Forwards teaches us to maintain a stable pelvis using abdominal strength as we stretch forward.
  • The spine stretch forward helps with shoulder mobility and helps us recognise where our shoulders are in relation to our spine and rib cage.
  • If you’re interested in the Pilates System as a whole then this exercise is identical to the following and exercise Open Leg Rocker.  Only right now we’re not rocking backwards and forwards.

Difficulty: intermediate – it depends on your body type 🙂
Reps: 4



The “how to”

Sit up with your legs straight and open to the corners of Europe Matt.   Stick your bum out and bring your rib cage so that sits directly over your pelvis.

This means you should be sitting directly on your seat bones.  if you can’t because your hamstrings are too tight, bend your knees slightly.  You might be tempted to sit up propped on a yoga block or similar but this will only teach you to prop yourself up and won’t help you to get the stretch you need to achieve the starting position.

Inhale engage the abdominals and reach your arms forwards and round your back until you were looking at the mat slide your shoulder blades open over your rib cage as your arms reach forwards without letting them come all the way up to your ears.  Remember we are stretching of the spine not of the shoulders.   if you’re one of these people that can fold into at the hip remember that you should be staying on top of your sick bones throughout the exercise without tripping forwards at any point.
Exhale and draw the shoulder blades down your back as you line your spine back up over your hips.
Transition:  as you finish your final repetition, hug both knees in toward your chest with your hands on shins and roll up for your Spine Stretch Forward.

Hints and Tips

💡 As a noticing exercise, try reversing your breathing to see how it changes the stretch through your spine.
💡 Imagine your sit bones are the summit of the mountain: don’t slip down either side stay on the peak.
💡 Think of rolling upwards and forwards rather than just forwards imagine somebody is holding your hips and lifting them up.
💡 Imagine your shoulder blades are like two curtains that open up to reveal the back of your rib cage and as you roll back up into the starting position they close up to cover your ribs.


☀️ … The Spine Stretch Forward looks like something we’ve done before: The Roll Up.  And it looks like, but there are differences and the big difference is that now we need to sit up, tall on our sit bones and that is a very tough thing for many, many people…

☀️ … Also, in this exercise we can see exactly how Pilates works: everything works together in a sequence and every exercise prepares you for the ones that come after.  This Spine Stretch Forward is exactly the same as the next exercise.  There’s only one difference.  The clue is in the name: Open Leg Rocker – yes, the Open Leg Rocker is Spine Stretch Forward with the addition of Rocking!

☀️  And there’s more: a “transition”.  Pilates is not a collection of unconnected exercises, but a series of interconnected exercises that flow seamlessly from one to the next. 💪💯



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