Has there ever been a time during your Pilates classes that your instructor has asked you to perform a pelvic bridge and you have thought to yourself, what is the point of this exercise?
Well let’s answer that for you!
The pelvic bridge is a commonly used exercise in both Reformer Pilates and Clinical Pilates classes. Often used as a warmup exercise, the pelvic bridge has been used without many clients understanding the extensive benefits this exercise offers. By having a clearer understanding of the benefits of the pelvic bridge the individual is then able to get even more from the exercise as they know where exactly the exercise is targeting and what they should be feeling during the movement.
Let’s start with what muscles the pelvic bridge targets, namely the posterior chain. These muscles run along the back of your body and include your calves, glutes, hamstrings and lower back. You should not overlook this group of muscles that line your posterior chain as they are extremely important for healthy movement, great posture, athleticism, and a back that is free from pain and discomfort.
Remember you need a strong back to have a strong body!
The other benefits of performing the pelvic bridge include improving lower back pain, knee and hip pain, proper activation of pelvic floor and glute muscles, strengthening the hip flexors to promote trunk stability, core stabilisation and improved proprioception in the lumbar spine, to help keep you mobile and be able to maintain a neutral spin (especially important for your Pilates classes).
In our sedentary society we spend most of the day sitting on our butts, instead of using them resulting in weak under-active glutes which is the primary cause of lower back pain. This under use of our glutes results in other muscles like the spinal erectors and hamstrings taking over the job that the glutes are meant to do. Consequently, we end up loading at the lower back instead of the hips. If the glutes are not activated and doing the job they are intended to do, the muscles below and above the pelvis such as the core cannot perform correctly resulting in the body having to compensate. This compensation usually comes in the form of badly slouched posture.
By performing pelvic bridges correctly, it helps reset your pelvis and ‘wake up’ the glutes helping the body to remember to use the hips (glutes) to create the movement instead of the more fragile lumbar spine. The pelvic bridge also has the added benefit of strengthening your core stabilizer muscles which in turn helps to support your lower back.
The pelvic bridge can also contribute in helping to reduce knee pain. The pelvic bridge is a great option for people unable to perform squats as its done lying down so it takes away any additional pressure put on the joints, particularly in the knee. One of the main factors in knee pain is the lack of control of the femur or upper leg bone. Not having enough control of the femur can result in the femur sliding forward causing internal rotation or collapsing into the midline of the body. These movements are often associated with knee pain as the glutes play a major role in controlling the femur at the hip joint which affects how the other bones of the knee joint work together.
Apart from the physical benefits this exercise offers, it can also improve blood circulation and help to alleviate stress and mild depression.
All of that from one exercise that most of us overlook.
This seemingly simple exercise has so many benefits for our bodies from shaping and toning to strengthening and helping prevent injuries. The muscles strengthened in the pelvic bridge exercise are ones that we use in everyday life from walking, carrying a heavy laundry basket or even taking out the rubbish.
For Joseph Pilates the spine was the key to physical and emotional wellbeing, neutral spine alignment is everything. So, keep that spine healthy and mobile by practicing the pelvic bridge in your next Pilates class.
“A man is as young as his spinal column”
Joseph H. Pilates