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This Pilates exercise is regularly used in Pilates classes as a gentle warm-up for the spine and abs. It helps coordinate breathing and movement and works the lower body, legs and hips.
Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat against the floor. Make sure that your feet, ankles and knees are aligned and remain hip-distance apart throughout the exercise.
This exercise starts with a neutral spine - this is when the natural curves of the spine are present and your back is not pressed into the mat.
Begin by breathing - draw a deep breath into your chest, down to your tummy and your pelvic floor. Exhale and then repeat.
When you exhale engage your abdominal muscles and pull your belly button down towards your spine. This action results in the abs pushing your spine down into the floor. Your pelvis should be tilted a little so that the pubic bone rises slightly above the hip bones.
This time push down through your feet allowing your tailbone to begin to lift up towards the celing. Raise your hips, then your lower spine and finally the middle spine. Ensure you keep your feet, ankles, knees and hips aligned throughout the exercise. You will end up resting on your shoulder blades with a straight back running from your hips to your shoulders. Do not arch any further than this point. Use your abs and hamstrings to support your body through this movement.
As you breath out, control the movement of your abs so as to roll the spine back down onto the floor. This should be done in a controlled manner, vertibrae by vertibrae until your lower spine touches the floor.
Release all the tension in your back, reverting to you natural spine position. Get ready to repeat the process by initiating the pelvic tilt when you exhale, then repeat the whole exercise 3 to 5 times.
The only thing you really need for the Plank is the floor. However, if you're looking for a little more comfort we'd recommend using a good exercise mat. It takes the pressure off your knees, hands and toes a little whilst exercising.
And whilst not absolutely necessary, you may feel more comfortable in a pair of pilates socks. We'd recommend our pilates toe socks for a pilates workout including the Plank. The grips on the toes will stop your feet slipping backwards during your exercise.