There are many versions of the Shoulder Bridge, some more challenging than others but this basic version can benefit us in so many ways. It mobilises the back, ironing out any kinks, or achy/tight muscles post-activity, or from sitting at your computer all day. In addition, the Shoulder Bridge lengthens the quads (front of thighs) and strengthens the hamstrings (back of thighs). It also improves core strength, pelvic and torso stability and gets those pesky glute muscles (buttocks) working.
Glutes have a habit of being a bit lazy. Maybe you’ve been told by your physio or osteopath that your glutes aren’t firing properly… Sometimes this can result in an achy lower back or tired, tight, hamstrings after a long walk, run or other sporting activity. Well this exercise can sort you out, it’s also a really lovely post activity stretch. Try it and see…
Apologies for the dog in the picture, but he wouldn’t move!
Tilt your pelvis back and forwards a little on the mat and come into neutral spine (if you don’t know what neutral spine is because you aren’t familiar with Pilates, don’t worry…for now!)
Engage your abdominal muscles (this means pull your tummy muscles in a little way…by doing this you will be protecting your spine.) And engage (squeeze) your bottom muscles
Slowly peel your spine off the mat, one vertebrae at a time, raising your torso into the bridge position.
Hold it for a second or two, keeping your tummy muscles engaged and your torso stable (no wobbles), plus you need your bottom muscles to remain squeezed/activated.
Then gently lower yourself back down with control, to the mat.
Try to breathe! Don’t hold your breath – if you attend a Pilates class then you will know about the lateral thoracic breathing – but if you don’t, for now, just breathe!
Repeat the above movement as many times as you wish – concentrating on those tummy muscles and bottom muscles – feel the lengthening of the spine and the stretch in the front of your thighs. Try to keep the shoulders relaxed and yes, have I mentioned it before? Breathe! It’s a really relaxing exercise too…
‘In 10 sessions you will feel the difference. In 20 you will see the difference. And in 30 you will have a whole new body.’ Joseph Pilates