How to Do the Pelvic Curl in Pilates
The Pelvic Curl is a Pilates exercise that is used as a warm-up to stretch and strengthen the back, legs, and abdomen. The rolling motion helps prepare the spine and abdominal muscles for more challenging exercises, while the lifting action helps to strengthen the legs and buttocks. Coordinating your breath with your movement also helps release tension and stress. The Pelvic Curl teaches you sequential mobilization of the spine: Starting with your spine in neutral position, you’ll scoop your abs, imprint your spine, and finally lift your lower and middle spine off the mat. This exercise is also sometimes called "Pelvic Curls," "Spine Curls," or "Coccyx (Tailbone) Curls."
- Begin by lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat. Your feet and knees should be parallel and hip-width apart, and your spine should be in neutral position]. Do not press your back flat into the mat. Let your arms relax along the sides your body.
- Inhale and prepare to move.
- On an exhalation, scoop your abs and engage your pelvic floor as you tuck your tailbone beneath you. Imprint your spine by using your abdominal muscles to press your spine completely into the floor. Your pelvis should be gently curled upward so that your pubic bone is higher than your hip bones. Hold this position as you inhale.
- Exhale and release back to neutral spine position. Inhale again and prepare to move.
- On an exhalation, press firmly through your feet, engage your thigh muscles, and tuck your tailbone once more. This time, roll your pelvis and your spine up toward the ceiling, one vertebra at a time. The rolling motion should move sequentially from your hips to your lower spine, then through your middle spine. As you roll your hips upward (pulling from your abdominal muscles and hamstrings), your hips will begin to lift off the mat and you will continue lifting through your middle spine. Stop lifting when your roll reaches your shoulders — they should remain on the mat.
- Inhale as you hold this position, focusing on the length of your spine.
- Exhale and roll your spine back down to the mat, one vertebra at a time, reversing the sequence: Start at the middle of your spine, then roll down onto your lower spine, and finally bring your hips all the way down.
- Inhale and release your pelvis so your spine is in neutral position once again.
- Repeat the exercise 5-10 times.
Hot Tip: Don't Roll Too Far
If you have the strength to do so, it might be tempting to roll all the way up onto the tops of your shoulders, lifting your hips and pelvis as high as possible for a deeper stretch. But remember that stretching is not the ultimate point of this exercise. Its focus is on moving slowly and with control, lifting one vertebra at a time, and then rolling down with precision and care. Focus on engaging your abdominal muscles and your hamstrings instead of lifting high or arching your spine!
Modifications & Tips
The Pelvic Curl will warm up your entire body and help you develop a deeper focus and concentration. Keep the following information in mind when practicing this exercise:
- Those with neck or back pain can limit their practice to the first four steps of the exercise.
- Roll up in one continuous motion. Practice keeping your movement controlled and rhythmic.
- Keep your shoulders and neck relaxed throughout the exercise.
- Keep your feet flat and parallel to each other. Do not let your feet roll inward or outward, or let your toes point inward or outward. Balance your weight evenly across both feet.
- Synchronize your breath with your movement.
Tuck & Curl
The Pelvic Curl can be a simple way to warm up your body for more challenging Pilates exercises. It can also be a great way to prepare your mind for efforts that require a greater focus, including work presentations, athletic competitions, or other stressful situations. By concentrating all of your effort on moving your spine with precision and control, you can gain a clear head that will help you face your day with grace and ease!