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Step Barrel: Roll Over



Step Barrel: Roll Over


What’s the Roll Over / Overhead Stretch good for?


Muscle focus
This exercise will strengthen your abdominals, stretch your glueals, hamstrings and mobilise your lower back whilst strengthening your shoulders.  It will also help teach control over your legs as they reach and circle overhead.

This exercise is a preparatory exercise to so many other exercises – especially the Matwork series.  It will help you improve every exercise that involve mobilising your spine towards over your legs – there’s a long list of exercises that require this, including : Roll Up, Roll Over, Single Straight Leg Stretch, Spine Stretch, Corkscrew, The Saw, Neck Pull, High Scissors & Bicycle, Jackknife, Side Kicks, Side Kick Kneeling, Teasers, Boomerang, Control Balance… Phew – that’s quite a lot and just shows how Pilates is not a series of random exercises in a random order, but a cohesive and coherent system of corrective exercise!



The “how to”

Using a mat is a good idea to cushion your head – especially as you roll down to get into the starting position…

Set Up
Sit on top of the barrel facing the lip and slide about halfway down the barrel towards the well.  The actual distance will depend on your proportions and mobility. Hold onto the handles of the barrel with your knuckles facing forwards bring your knees together bent.  Point your feet and begin to roll down over the barrel bringing your head to rest down gently on a mat on the floor behind the barrel.  Reach your legs up to 12 o’clock in a Pilates stance if that is appropriate for you.

The How to …
Exhale: Lie down with your legs towards the ceiling and peel your back over the Step Barrel in a roll motion until your legs are parallel to the floor.
Inhale: Open your legs hip-width apart and flex your feet.  To return to the starting position, bring your hips (with open legs) back onto the Step Barrel in a controlled roll motion. Repeat 3 times.

Deeper Practice

  1. Circle in the opposite direction reaching your legs out and away from you creating a straight line from shoulders, through hips and feet.
  2. Back Arch & Reach: combine the Roll Over with the exercise described above in #1.
  3. Jackknife: Lie down with your legs straight horizontal and reach. up to twelve o’clock and reach to them to the ceiling, and your legs are like the Jacknife move on the Mat.
  4. Corkscrew: see the mat exercises here


Hints and Tips

💡 Don’t rest on your neck – stay on your shoulders.
💡 Support your body above your shoulder blades or your upper back by pressing into the Set Barrel – use your arms to help with this.
💡 If necessary, support the upper back of your back with a pad to take pressure from the neck.
💡 Roll back and forth on the barrel in a controlled manner.
💡 Move fluently from one position to the next.
💡 Lower the torso onto the barrel with a rolling action – imagine your spine is the top pastry of an apple pie that you’re rolling onto the pie….
💡 While the torso rolls back and forth, activate the abdominal muscles and lift the torso towards the ceiling.
💡 Reach towards the ceiling with your seat bones as you peel your spine off the barrel in a backward roll motion.


If you suffer from neck problems: to ease pressure on your neck, support your back with a pad or avoid the exercise completely.
If you suffer from back problems: you need to be able to tolerate flexion or avoid the exercise.
If you are pregnant, suffer from gastric reflux, omit this exercise
This exercise is not recommended for people suffering from osteoporosis..

Related Links:

  • Wall: Roll Over: click here
  • Wunda Chair: Pumping Standing (Hamstring II): click here

Photo credits: Emma Hogan Photography.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/6″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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