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How to Do the Standing Roll Down in Pilates

The Standing Roll Down is a Pilates warm-up exercise that relieves back tension and stretches your legs. This exercise is also often used as a cool-down, restoring balance to the body. The rolling motion strengthens the abdominal muscles and helps improve blood circulation throughout the body. It also stretches and increases mobility in the back, spine, neck, and hamstrings. In addition to releasing tension and stress, the Standing Roll Down also creates space between the vertebrae and improves posture.


  1. Begin by standing with your feet hip-width apart and your spine in neutral position [link]. Your legs and feet should be parallel to each other. Let your arms relax along the sides your body.
  2. Inhale and lengthen your spine as you prepare to move. Scoop your abs [link]; you will keep them pulled in throughout the exercise.
  3. In one exhalation, tuck your chin and lengthen the back of your neck. Nod your head forward and let your shoulders drop forward as you start bending your upper back. Bend your knees slightly and continue rolling your entire spine forward and down, one vertebra at a time. Roll down as far as you comfortably can go while keeping your neck, head, and shoulders relaxed. Your arms should dangle from your shoulders.
  4. Keeping your abs scooped and your body draped forward, inhale and tuck your pelvis slightly. Then exhale and begin to reverse the movement, slowly rolling back up, one vertebra at a time. Keep your navel pulled in deeply as you roll your torso back upright.
  5. Return to your starting position. Then repeat the move 5-10 times.
Hot Tip: Roll Slowly

If your back or hamstrings are stiff or sore, you might think it's easier to skip over the tight parts by rolling down quickly. But you'll actually gain a greater benefit from the exercise if you move slowly. Rolling down as slowly as possible will allow your muscles to stretch evenly and you’ll work through those tight spots more efficiently.

Modifications & Tips

The Standing Roll Down will warm up your entire body and improve posture. Keep the following information in mind when practicing this exercise:

  • Those with less stability can practice this move against a wall. Stand with your back and hips resting against a wall and your feet about six inches away from the wall. Bend your knees slightly, and perform the move as listed above.
  • Keep your abdominal muscles scooped and lifted throughout the exercise.
  • Keep your hips centered over your feet.
  • 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.
  • Coordinate your movement with your breath.

Roll Down to Loosen Up

The Standing Roll Down is a great move to practice any time during the day. It can feel particularly good when times are stressful to simply roll forward and let tension and stress drop away from your body. Remember to take it slowly. Let your movements be fluid and controlled. Regularly practicing this move will have you standing tall and strong in no time!

The Standing Roll Down is a Pilates exercise that stretches the hamstrings and relieves back tension. Read this guide to learn detailed information about this move!
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