Glossary

Is there a Pilates glossary of terms?

One of the first things you learn when you start taking Pilates is that there is a whole language that seems to accompany the exercises. Understanding some of the more commonly used terms can help facilitate faster results and a more enjoyable experience in class. You will find the most commonly used Pilates terms and their definitions listed below.
Abduction. This is movement away from the center of your body. An example of this is bringing your arms out to a 'T' position.
Adduction. This is movement toward the center of your body. An example of this is bringing your arms down to your sides from a 'T' position.
Anterior. This refers to a movement or body part near or toward the front of the body.
C-Curve
C-Curve. This refers to the 'C' shape the torso makes while you are in a flexed position.
Cervical Spine. This refers to the vertebrae in the neck, above the thoracic spine. There are seven vertebrae in this area (C1 to C7).
Coccyx. This is your tailbone. It is the lowest segment of the vertebral column.
Core Strength. This refers to the muscles of the trunk that help to stabilize the spine. Though most people think of the abdominal muscles, core strength also refers to the muscles of the back and the pelvic floor. Core strength is developed through balance and the coordinated use of these muscles. Core strength allows us to move in a functional and safe manner.
Dorsiflexion. The motion of pulling the toes back toward the shins, flexing the entire foot at the ankle.
Extension
Extension. Extension is the opposite of flexion. It describes a straightening movement that increases the angle between two points. Straightening your arm is an example of extension.
Flexion. Flexion is the opposite of extension, and it describes a bending movement that decreases the angle between two points. Bending your elbow, or pulling your knee toward your chest are examples of flexion.
Ground Reaction Force
Ground Reaction Force (GRF). This refers to the force exerted by the ground on a body in contact with it. Adding GRF to your movements will make your movements easier and more efficient.
Hyperextended. This refers to a joint or limb being extended beyond its normal limits.
Imprinting
Imprinting. When lying on your back, draw the belly "in and up" so the spine lengthens along the mat such that the bones of the entire spine are pressed into the mat and no space exists between the two. This technique is most closely associated with the Classical style of Pilates.
Lateral. This refers to a movement or body part near or toward the side of the body.
Lumbar Spine. This is the lower back region below the thoracic spine and above the sacrum. It has five vertebrae (L1 to L5). When it is in the neutral position, there will be a slight curve known as lordosis.
Midline. This refers to the line going down the middle of the body, from the top of the head down to the feet.
Neutral Pelvis
Neutral Pelvis. A reference point for the placement of the pelvis in many exercises. When lying on your back, the pelvis is level such that the two hip bones in the front are level to the pubic bone and the two hip bones are level to each other.
Pilates Stance. Pilates stance is similar to a first position in ballet. In this position the heels are together and the toes are apart.
Plantar Flexion. The action of pointing the foot so that the toes are moving away from the shins.
Posterior. This refers to a movement or body part near or toward the back of the body.
Post-Lateral Breathing
Post-Lateral Breathing. In an effort to stabilize the spine as we perform our exercises we need to maintain some abdominal contraction while inhaling. When you inhale, rather than releasing the abdominals fully, maintain some of the contraction and allow the entire ribcage to expand especially to the back (post) and to the side of your body (lateral). This technique can take time to learn. So be patient as you learn new exercises and remember it is better to breathe comfortably than to not breathe at all.
Powerhouse. The term Joseph Pilates used to describe the musculature of the center of your body. It includes the abdominals, pelvic floor, the muscles surrounding the hip joint and back extensors. The powerhouse is the physical and energetic center of the body and the focus of all Pilates exercises.
Prone
Prone. A prone position is when you are lying flat, face down. Many extension exercises are done in a prone position.
Sacrum. The sacrum is the triangular bone just below the lumbar spine and above the coccyx (tailbone). It forms the base of the spine and the center of the pelvis.
Scapula
Scapula. This is also known as the shoulder blade. It connects the humerus (upper arm bone) with the clavicle (collar bone).
Supine
Supine. A supine position is when you are lying down on your back. Many Pilates exercises are done in a supine position.
Table Top. This is a position where the legs make a 90 degree angle while lying supine. The knees should be directly over the hips, and the feet should be directly in line with the knees.
Thoracic Spine. The thoracic spine refers to the upper and mid back. It has twelve vertebrae (T1 to T12).
Pelvic Tuck
Tuck. This is the term commonly used by instructors to indicate that you should round the low back. To tuck the pelvis the abdominal muscles should contract forcing the hip bones to roll back out of a neutral position. In a tucked pelvis, the pubic bone will be more forward of the hip bones resulting in a rounded spine.
Unilateral Movement. A movement that is done by one side of the body. An example of this would be Single Leg work on the Reformer. ______________________________________________________

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Comments

1 person likes this.
prop name / picture "dictionary" would be useful for beginners. I'm used to calling a 65 cm ball a "big ball", not sure what prop name it corresponds to in this web site. Similar for "squishy ball (~20 cm), "foam block" (~10 cm x 20 cm x 30 cm)
Curt ~ Thank you for your feedback. We are working on updating our beginner center, so this information is very helpful. The "big ball" you mention would be equivalent to the "fitness ball," the "squishy ball" would be an "overball," and the "foam block" would be a "yoga block." I hope this helps!
I agree with Curt Hern - though I've been receiving pilates lessons in real life for a couple of years now, I'm new to PilatesAnytime and would especially appreciate some help in differentiating the different kinds of balls!
I'm looking for the translation for the acronym "GRF." I heard it several times in a recent video I viewed about, "The 100." I apologize for not being more specific with which video. Let me know if I need to go back to my list of viewed videos in order to be more specific. GRF sounded like a term that is used often. I'm a first grade teacher and there are so many acronyms in the educational field, they usually stand for something obvious, but for some reason, I'm not figuring it out, yet! LOL! Thank you!
Lisa I believe GRF stands for ground reaction force. I first heard of the acronym in work that was associated with Judith Astons work.

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