Common Supine Mistakes: Arching Backs and Flaring Ribs

One of the most common mistakes with beginning Pilates students is flaring or popping the ribcage during supine integration exercises.  Flaring the ribs indicates a loss of control of the core abdominal muscles.  For example, during bridging flaring the ribs can indicate that the student is using the lower back to maintain the bridge instead of the glutes, hamstrings and abdominal muscles.  With an exercise incorporating arm arcs, ribcage flaring often means that the student is not maintaining awareness of the core during the exercise and he or she is not getting the true benefits associated with the cross body and muscular sling engagement that makes these exercises so beneficial.  With a lower extremity, long-lever supine exercise, flared ribs indicate that the client should shorten the lever to regain control and remove undue stress and work from the lower back.

We can use many tactile cues to help clients be more aware of this common mistake, but in a larger class, it’s much harder to reach each student for tactile cueing without sacrificing class flow and momentum.  In that setting, try asking the class to imagine that they have sandbags on their ribcage.  This imagery can help a student to “feel” weight on his or her ribcage to remind them to use the abdominal muscles to keep the ribcage pulled tight and engaged.

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