Many of the Pilates exercises, such as the famous Hundred, include a flexion of the spine, something that has been criticized to this method with the passage of time. To vary your training and as a way to work the entire posterior chain of our body, today we explain how to perform step by step the swimming exercise: a classic Pilates exercise that involves an extension of the spine and that, as you can imagine, simulates the movement of a swimmer in the water.
Pilates swimming is a very complete exercise in which we put the coordination of arms and legs, the muscles responsible for the stabilization of our posture, the muscles of the back, especially those of the lower back, and the gluteus. We explain how swimming is done with all its progressions.
The first step: Back extension
The first exercise that we would have to go through to achieve a perfect and safe swimming is the extension of the column or back extension. It is a movement of articulation of the spine whose purpose is to stabilize the lower back and shoulder girdle and create a dorsal extension.
We lie face down on the floor with our legs together, elbows bent and forearms and palms resting on the floor. From this position we extend the thoracic and cervical spine, always keeping the last ribs in contact with the floor or the mat. It is not about seeing how much we can arch the back, but about articulating the spine correctly while the rest of the body remains stable.
Once we have mastered the movement we go to do it with arms stretched on both sides of the body (without the support of hands on the floor) and then we can move to place the arms forward, first flexed and with hands under the forehead and then stretched. When placing the arms stretched forward it is good idea to draw a vee: in this way it is easier to stabilize the scapulae.
Learn the movement of legs and arms
The swimming exercise requires good coordination, since the movement of arms and legs occurs at the same time, but combining right arm with left leg and vice versa. That is why it is important for many people to first learn the movement of arms and legs separately and then unite them.
We begin by learning to combine a thoracic extension with a hip extension. We continue lying face down and what we will do is raise the upper part of the trunk (remember that the last ribs are supported) and also our right arm, which we keep at the height of our ear. At the same time we raise the left leg keeping it well stretched. We go down and perform the same movement with left arm and right leg.
To learn the movement of the arms we perform the back extension that we have previously learned with the arms stretched forward. We must make sure that we are elongated (we “pull” the tip of the fingers forward while the pelvis is stable on the ground) and that the only thing that moves are the arms: the pelvis does not swing on the floor. once we are in the back extension position, we move the arms up and down alternately with a fluid movement.
To learn the movement of the legs, the first thing we have to do is a hip extension: press the mat with the pubis while raising the legs of the floor slightly. In this case we elongate from the tip of our feet, as if they were pulling us back from them. Once the legs are in the air, we move them up and down alternately as we have done with the arms.
The complete swimming movement
To perform the complete swimming we will have to unite the two movements that we have practiced previously , and we try that the arm goes acompasado with the opposite leg. We raise the upper part of our trunk to the last ribs with a back extension, perform a hip extension so that the legs are in the air and begin to move legs and arms in a rhythmic manner.
At this point we must be aware that throughout the movement we remain elongated : the feeling must be that they were pulling us from the tips of the fingers of the hands forward and from the tips of the toes backwards. In this way we will be able to activate the transverse of the abdomen and gain stability in the pelvic area.
A common error in this exercise is that the whole body moves when doing it: the only thing that must move are the arms and legs while the rest of the body remains immobile and, above all, stable.