I am an advocate of regular Pilates practice and many people often ask what's a good way to care for your back and keep good posture, my answer is ' a roll down a day' ... (or 10 ) !
You are working to help mobilise the entire spine and hips in this exercise, which is always a great thing!
Plus so many other health benefits such as increasing circulation, balance and control, strengthening your centre support muscles too. Doing a few roll downs is also the perfect way to warm up the body especially if you are going to progress to more advanced Pilates or other exercises.
Let's get started....
Start standing (without shoes) with your feet hip distance apart, ensure your alignment is correct to begin with- hips, knees and ankles all stacked on top of one another. A feeling of length through the crown of the head, even weight distributed throughout the feet.
Focus on what your ribs are doing in this position, we want to avoid 'flaring ribs' where we often push our ribs out, you may need to soften the ribcage, 'tucking them in' by connecting with abdominal muscles very gently.
On an exhale nod the chin towards the chest (keep a small gap between the chin and chest), allow the movement forward to continue through the spine, allowing the vertebrae rolling forwards one by one. This should be a controlled movement, in which rather than just collapsing forwards, you use your centre muscles to support you, think up and over with the spine, like you are rolling over a big beach ball. I like to use the imagery of creating 'space' between each and every one vertebrae.
Take a breathe in at the base of your roll down and focus on an even c-shape of the spine, check in with your shoulders and make sure they are released and relaxed, check in with your feet and ensure your weight has not shifted to the heels.
Exhale, 'tuck your tail bone' between your legs and Control the spine to re-stack from the base of the spine, vertebrae by vertebrae back up to the start position. Keep your hips over ankles and weight forwards on your feet as you re-stack- you will notice you'll need to use those centre support muscles to help you roll through the spine, be mindful to roll up evenly.
Top tip!...You can also imagine you are peeling the spine off/ rolling back up a wall, (maintaining the natural curves of the spine) this helps to concentrate on the sequential movement that is so important, especially as we all have 'sticky' bits that don't always want to move separately!
Remember what they say, Happy Spine, Happy Mind! 😀
(Roll downs are not always suitable for everyone, particularly in later stages of pregnancy, osteopenia or osteoporosis of the spine, if your not sure the exercise is suitable for you, check with your GP).