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Exercise of the Month: Side Bend - Prep, Full & Twist

This month, we’re excited to spotlight Claudia Fink, a distinguished Merrithew® Lead Instructor Trainer and the owner of Pilates Italia, a Merrithew Licensed Training Center in Milan, Italy. Claudia expertly leads us through the Side Bend sequence from the STOTT PILATES® Matwork repertoire in our latest Exercise of the Month feature.

This series progresses from the essential-level Side Bend Prep to the intermediate Side Bend and peaks with the advanced Twist. Perfect for those eager to elevate their routine, explore new body positions and enhance awareness, this sequence includes variations to accommodate all fitness levels, from beginners to advanced practitioners.

Exercise tips:

  • Breathing technique: Focus on proper breathing throughout to boost stability and performance. Inhale through your nose and exhale through pursed lips, drawing the belly inwards and wide with each exhalation. Exhale to lift into the side bend and inhale to lower.
  • Modifications for injury prevention: For those with wrist, elbow or shoulder concerns, the exercise can be performed on the forearm, ensuring even weight distribution between the forearm and the foot or lower leg. The edge can be used under the forearm to provide for a starting point that does not involve the wrist.
  • Equipment incorporation: Flex-Bands® or ankle tubings can be added to introduce hip abduction challenges, enhancing the complexity and effectiveness of the exercise. While holding the position, the Flex band can be used to add arm work if one end is under the foot and the other end in the hand, while the ankle tubing provides resistance in abduction and can be used to challenge gluteus medius.

Benefits of this exercise:

  • Core engagement: Targets core muscles engagement, specifically internal and external obliques, shoulder stabilizers and muscles that control the movement of lateral flexion of the spine - quadratus lumborum and erector spinae.
  • Mind-body connection: Promotes a strong mind-body connection by requiring focus and concentration on proper form, breath and alignment.
  • Challenge elements: Tests balance, strength, endurance and proprioception. The exercise progresses from side bending in the frontal plane to rotational movements in the transverse plane during advanced variations while transitioning from a large base of support to small.
  • Functional benefits: Mastering the Side Bend series can improve performance in daily activities and sports, enhancing overall strength, stability and coordination. This improvement helps you move more efficiently and with greater control, leading to better performance and reduced risk of injury in both everyday tasks and athletic endeavors.

Claudia’s professional insights into the Side Bend exercise offer Pilates practitioners of all skill levels a chance to deepen their practice, challenge their physical limits and enjoy the comprehensive benefits of Pilates.

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