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The Pelvic Curl. Exercise in focus.

The Pelvic curl is a foundation Pilates exercise (demonstrated nicely here by sponsored rider Kristy).

The benefits are staggering. Its correct practice trains you to move the pelvis evenly, greatly assisting in proprioception, not to mention the specific strengthening of the hip extensors (hamstrings and gluteal muscles) and deep stabilising musculature. In addition to this, the pelvic curl also creates a wonderful feeling of much needed articulation and lengthening through the spine. I call it an undoing exercise. Undoing lengthy periods of sitting and sedentary behaviours. It also helps you build awareness of the breath, which intertwines beautifully with the movement to create flow and seamlessness. Here’s how to do it.

To start – lie on your back with your arms loosely by your sides, collar bones open, legs bent and your heels approximately 30cm from your sitting bones. The feet should be parallel, same width as the knees, and hip width apart. Press the big toes down firmly into your mat. Your spine will be neutral – observing its natural curve.

  1. Whilst maintaining relaxed arms, neck, and shoulders, commence the drawing of the belly towards the back on an exhale. The process of deep abdominal engagement needs to produce a slight tilt through the pelvis, a feeling of tucking the tail. This will result in the shortening of the distance between the pelvis and the rib cage. Don’t use the muscles at the front of the hips to create this pelvic tilt.
  2. Upon completion on the tilt/imprint of the lower back into your mat, engage your bottom muscles and press the hips up towards your ceiling. Create a lovely diagonal line from shoulder to knee – don’t let the pelvis sag! Imagine here that you are trying to connect your heels to your sitting bones. This will markedly increase the engagement through your hamstrings. Also try to send the knees away from you to heighten the feeling of lengthening through your body.
  3. Take a deep breath in whilst pressed up and on the exhale, draw the belly button to your back and quietly unravel your spine down onto your mat, trying to articulate each individual vertebra. Imagine a string of pearls gently being placed individually down into the sand. Ensure that you don’t compromise the relaxed shoulder, neck and arm position you established at the outset – instead, you disassociate your spine as you articulate it down to your mat. Resume your neutral spine position and prepare to go again. Repeat at least 12 times.


I hope you enjoy doing this exercise as much as I do teaching it. Remember questions are always welcome.