How to do a Pilates shoulder bridge
From a neutral lying down position with bent knees, breathe out and start with a pelvic tilt, which means you close the gap between the lumbar spine and the mat by tilting the hips. Then, vertebrae by vertebrae lift your back off the mat until you have created a diagonal line from your knees all the way to your shoulders. Lift the hips as high as you can and at the same time, push your shoulders into the mat. Make sure to keep your knees parallel. If you have wandering knees that don’t stay in place, then you can put a block or a cushion between the legs as this helps you to keep the inner thighs engaged (which will keep your knees in check). At your highest point, breathe in and start lowering the spine vertebrae by vertebrae as if your spine is a string of pearls and one by one you place them on the mat. Keep your pelvic tilt until the very last moment and then put your pelvis back into neutral, creating a gap again between the lumbar spine and the mat.
Pilates shoulder bridge benefits
This is a fantastic move to isolate the vertebrae and help improve mobility in the spine. When you push your hips high, you will feel a lovely stretch of the front of the body, which is an added bonus. Like all Pilates moves, the breathing pattern and contracting of your TA (Transversus Abdominis) and lifting of the Pelvic Floor means you are working your core as well.
Why I love it
As we age, our spine gets stiff, which can restrict our movements and everyday activities. We’ve all seen older people suffering from such immobility – sometimes it looks like their upper body is made out of stone as it is not able to move freely. The Pilates bridge keeps the spine agile, mobile and ultimately, young! A mobile spine is also less prone to injury as it keeps the muscles around the vertebrae ‘open’ so that the individual vertebrae can move and the muscles and nerves are less likely to get pinched. Focusing on mobility in the spine is also great for those suffering from sciatica and back pain, as long as there is no acute pain or there are no disc related issues. It’s a lovely exercise and not hard to master. What not to love?