The Pilates exercise, Chest Lift, strengthens the abdominals while increasing thoracic flexion. This exercise can be performed with the head supporting by the hands or by incorporating the arm arcs. The addition of arcing your arms will help with deepening the flexed position and will increase the endurance of the abdominals.
Make sure the head is heavy in the hands and avoid losing the space between the chin and chest. Be conscious of lengthening the spine while curling forward, decreasing the distance between your rib cage and hips. As you curl forward into the chest lift, avoid activating the glutes and tilting the pelvis.
One of the benefits of this exercise is learning how to isolate the movement of the thoracic spine. Poor activation of the abdominals during this exercise can cause neck pain or tension, so it is important to understand the mechanics of the movement and develop the strength required to perform it correctly.
Precautions should be taken when performing this exercise if you have: pelvic floor dysfunction; rectus diastasis; an abdominal hernia; or any other abdominal pathology. Those with osteoporosis in the thoracic spine should also avoid this exercise. Specific modifications to this exercise can be made by a qualified Pilates instructor to accommodate some of these pathologies.
Look out for the chest lift exercise (or a variation of it) in your next Pilates class – your abdominals will tell you about it the next day!
- Proper recruitment of abdominal muscles
- Strengthen the abdominal muscles
- Improve thoracic and rib mobility into flexion
- Improve lumbar-pelvic stability and control
- Improve neck and head control
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