EXERCISE #12: Swan Dive by Courtney Miller

Intimidated by the #swandive? @courtneymillerpilates feels you. “Swan Dive is a TOUGH movement for my body, and I think a lot of people feel the same way! There are loads of benefits from practicing this dynamic exercise, but often the intimidation factor stops people from even trying it,” she says. In this vid—which is sped up 2x—she breaks down three of the key focuses using a wall as a prop. Here’s how:

#1 Decompressing the lumbar spine: “By placing my femurs against the wall, I can feel if my pelvis is tipping anteriorly (aka if I’m hinging from my lower back). I try to keep my pubic bone moving toward the wall and my sacrum dropping toward the floor as I extend my spine. This helps to create space in the lumbar spine and brings the attention to moving from the thoracic spine. Bonus: Try lifting one or both arms off the wall to increase the challenge.

#2 Rock and Catch fundamentals: I love including the Rock and Catch variation into the Swan Dive, however it takes a little confidence and a whole lot a trust! Taking it to the wall allows you to figure out the timing and understand how to activate the core unit in an anticipatory nature, plus it slows down the flow (since you are vertical vs. horizontal). This variation gives you all of the benefits without losing any of the fun!

#3 Creating thoracic length: The key extension is creating space. By starting with the feet firmly against the wall, I am able to plantar flex and push my chest up and forward during spinal extension. This small adjustment makes a big difference in the overall feeling and quality of the movement. Think “heart open and up” as you press the feet away from the wall. Once you experience how yummy that thoracic lengthen feels, you’ll want to recreate it in every backbend! #swandive  #marchmatness2018 #pilatesstyle 

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