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Whats in a Bridge

For a seemingly simple movement, when executed with good intention and thought to the movement of the body, bridge can be a wonderful way to;



For a seemingly simple movement, when executed with good intention and thought to the movement of the body, bridge can be a wonderful way to;


· Improve spinal and rib cage mobility

· Strengthen the pelvic floor

· Improve hip extensor (glute and hamstring) strength

· Improve hip flexor length

· Improve spinal extensor strength

· Allow access to the parasympathetic nervous system

· Improve lower extremity alignment and body awareness

· Improve your gait movement (hip extension)


There are so many variations that can be done within bridge with movement integration of arms, legs, pelvis and spine or with props and of course variations on all of the apparatus. For this, let’s just stay with nice pelvic tilt version of the bridge using our hands as guides into the shape.


HOW

Place the palms of the hands on to the front of the thighs. Legs can be hip distance (2nd toe to knee to hip) or a bit wider for a larger base of support. Some external rotation can be nice for those with knee pathologies. It is important to bring awareness to the alignment of the lower extremities and be mindful that the legs remain in the same line when rolling up as well as rolling down (great for vmo activation).

Feel the whole of the feet, from ball of big toe all the way to the ball of the little toe, the whole outside of the foot and the middle of the heel all connected to the floor.

Inhale to prepare. EXHALE moving from a neutral pelvis and spine gently roll the tailbone toward the pubic bone, engaging deep lower abdominal's as you reach the feet into the floor and continue to roll the pubic bone back towards the lower rib continuing to peel the spine up off the floor until you are resting no further than your shoulder blades.


From here gently press the thighs up in to the palms and palms in to the thighs. This oppositional resistance helps the body to achieve the shape and the brain to understand the placement of the body therefore gaining the benefit of the opening over the front pelvis while engaging the extensors. Often if we are tight in our hip flexors, in order to ‘feel the opening’ the body will flare the rib cage toward the ceiling and go into a spinal extension and we are looking for a neutral spine. So perhaps think of the body being between a pane of glass on top and below.


To reduce that ‘down hill’ sensation into the head, neck and shoulders, imagine lengthening the kneecaps away from you. Feel a long line from the shoulder over the front of the body and through the knees while the crown reaches behind you.


INHALE at the top of your bridge. EXHALE to begin peeling back down from between the shoulder blades first, try thinking of creating length from crown to sternum and then sternum to tailbone. Once the pelvis makes contact with the mat, allow the muscles of the legs and torso to just relax before going into the movement again.


TIPS

· Maintain leg alignment of 2nd toe, knee and hip throughout the movement.

· Be aware of the connection of the feet throughout the movement.

· Bridge just to the base of the shoulder blades.

· Use your hands to help find the shape and therefore the benefits.

· Try to move segmentally through the spine.


We do a lot of variations and movement integrations with the bridge within our lessons, it is also a go to homework exercise for many clients. The above is achievable for most populations, however as with anything you are unsure of please check with your medical practitioner as to the suitability of any exercise program for your body.

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