How to do the Pilates shoulder bridge

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Pilates Blog

The Pilates shoulder bridge is a staple in any class as it improves posture, works your abdominal muscles and glutes. In addition, the shoulder bridge teaches you the best method for stabilising your shoulders.

The shoulder bridge has a number of variations however but they all begin with the fundamental stance:

  • Lying supine on your back with the soles of your feet placed firmly on the mat
  • Bent knees
  • Pelvis lifted.

Similar in form to the normal gymnastics bridge, this mid-level Pilates exercise focuses on stability in addition to steady breathing. It is a beautiful exercise that challenges strength and stability in the back and pelvis to stay neutral without rocking or tilting. The shoulder bridge challenges coordination and breath work when initiating leg movement. the exercise allows an individual to stretch and strengthen the hamstrings and quadriceps. Strong abdominals allow one to perform the exercise correctly and with ease.

Starting position

Lie supine on the mat with your legs bent and slightly abducted. Make sure that your feet are facing forward and your arms are extended with your palms resting on either side of your body.

Inhale to prepare.

Exhale and keeping your abdominals strong and stable lift up your pelvis, articulating your spine gently off the mat a single vertebra at a time until you’re resting on your thoracic spine. Ensure that your scapulae are stabilised and depressed.

Inhale and keeping your abdominals strong and stable for balance extend one leg up towards the ceiling with a plantar-flexed foot.

Exhale and, while still keeping your abdominals contracted, dorsi flex your foot and lower it to the height of your opposite knee.

Inhale. Keep your abdominals strong and stable for balance extend one leg up towards the ceiling with a plantar-flexed foot. Repeat between five and 10 times for each leg.

As we said earlier in this article, the muscles worked by this exercise are:

  • Abdominals
  • Back muscles
  • Hamstring group
  • Gluteus group
  • Calves

What are the benefits of the shoulder bridge?

If you’re searching for a move to incorporate into your routine which works your core as well as your butt, the basic bridge is a fantastic place to start.

For this exercise, the target muscle is the erector spinae. This muscle runs the length of your back from your neck towards your tailbone. A basic bridge stretches the stabilisers of the posterior chain, plus your hip abductors, gluteus maximus hamstrings.

As antagonist stabilisers for the shoulder bridge exercise, the rectus abdominis, obliques as well as quadriceps get a workout as they are responsible for maintaining stability. Your holistic strength will improve as these muscle groups become stronger. A core which is strong will also improve your posture and can assist with easing lower back pain. In fact, as long as you maintain good form, bridge exercises are usually safe for people who suffer from chronic back problems. The shoulder can even aid in pain management.

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