The Roll Up is the second exercise in Joseph Pilates Classic 34 Mat Exercises and it is a wonderful way to wake up the abdominals while stretching the lower back and hip flexors while also engaging the hamstrings. This exercises builds an awareness of the importance and necessity of engaging co-contracting abdominals (spinal flexors) and hamstrings (hip extensors) in order to successfully roll up.
*Sometimes people feel "stuck" when they roll up. Part of that can be due to tight hip flexors and/or lower back extensors. In that case take your time and bend your knees if necessary when first learning the Roll Up. You can even place your feet under a strap or a couch in order to put more emphasis on the abdominals. Just don't rely on this modification too long or it will back fire and actually cause you to build even more reliance on the hip flexors for your roll up.
*The timing of the breath is very important as well. Inhale during the chest lift (the first part of the roll up) and Exhale as the ribs leave the mat. The Exhale will give you an extra burst of power to help you cross the finish line!
*Also, don't forget the importance of pressing down with the latissimus dorsi muscles (the muscles underneath your arm pit) as you start to roll up. Think of your arms like butter knives (the armpits are the handle and your hands are the serated edge of your knife) and "slice "through space with energy and intention. Its a funny image but it works! :)
*Advance this exercise by adding leg lifts or arm lifts or by incorporating a Teasar or rotation.
***And don't forget to have fun!!!!! :)
CHRISTINE IVY, Author
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