N is for Neck Pull
The Neck Pull is an advanced level mat Pilates exercise.
The purpose and benefit of this exercise are:
- Abdominal strengthening (rectus abdominus)
- Spinal articulation which mobilises the spine
- To stretch the hamstrings, spinal and neck extensors
The prime movers in this exercise are the rectus abdominus and the hip flexors.
This exercise is similar to and builds on from the Roll Up exercise but with the hands behind the head throughout the exercise. It is usually better to start with the legs together and feet flexed as this encourages engagement of the inner thighs and hamstrings. However, the original exercise created by Joseph Pilates in ‘Return to Life’ is with the legs apart. It is better to see what suits you or your participants/clients.
Key cues when teaching or performing this exercise are as follows:
- Focus on using the abdominals to flex the spine rather than pulling the head off the floor with hands, which is common
- Keep the elbows back
- Focus on articulation of the spine, visualising your spine is a bicycle chain
- Keep legs strong and feet flexed
- Keep the shoulders down
Modifications for this exercise could be:
- Reaching the arms forward as this will help with curling up away from the floor if the abdominals need a little help or if the lower back muscles are tight
- Using a resistance band to help with getting the technique right first and to warm up the relevant muscles
To make this exercise more challenging you can perform the Hinge Back prior to rolling back through the spine, but this is only for participants who are strong in their abdominals and hip flexors. From rolling back up from arcing over the thighs, you would hinge back from the hip with a straight back, then roll back through the spine to finish off the exercise as opposed to just rolling back from the arc position.
You can download and print the pdf below for your class materials: