Exercise #1426

Roll Over

3 min - Exercise


Muscle Focus: Abdominals.

Objective: Strengthen abdominals and increase spinal mobility.

Start Position: Lie flat with legs together and arms by your side. Draw abdominals towards the Mat.

Movement: Inhale as lift your legs to 90 degrees. Exhale as your reach the legs up and over to achieve a C curve in the spine. Separate your legs, flex your feet, and lower them to the floor. Roll through your spine to the Mat and circle your legs down around and together. Repeat and reverse the opening and closing of the legs.

Precautions: Avoid rolling over past your shoulder blades, and maintain a lift in the lower back by reaching your sits bones towards the ceiling.
What You'll Need: Mat

About This Video

Jan 01, 2011
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Read Full Transcript

So we're looking at the Roll Over. This is a great exercise-- not for everyone-- but it's a great exercise and it's third in the list of mat repertoire. This exercise is going to be for, once again abdominal strength, also spinal mobility. It's one of the key things we need, not only in Pilates, but in our lives. So let's think of that as the reason we're doing this exercise.

A way to learn control of the spine and this lovely exercise. Amy is set up where she's lying flat on her back. Her legs are together. She's going to draw her belly in-- her shoulders are down-- and float the legs up, bringing them all the way to 90. That was her inhale.

She's going to exhale and rise up and over, finding this lovely line, this horizontal line. It's as if she's piercing the back wall with her feet, while holding her hips back just a little. So you will see and should have a C Curve to the spine here. It's not meant to be real straight. So allow that opening of the hips.

From that place, she's going to separate her feet. She flexes them. You can lower the feet to the floor before moving your back. And from there-- now take the stretch as she rolls down. She's exhaling, melting her way back down.

When she reaches about 90 she'll point her toes, circle the legs around and bring them together to do it again. Inhaling to 90. Exhaling up and over. From here she flexes, separates her feet. It's about hip distance.

Now, notice when Amy lowers her feet she doesn't change her back here. You don't want to collapse on your back. So if you're not ready for that flexibility, don't do it. Let it be later. From there she exhales and rolls her way down-- smoothing out the spine, binding pelvis.

And circle around. Let's do it again-- inhale. You're seeing Amy go all the way to the ground or almost. That's how Joseph did it. But it's something you want to build to.

So don't hesitate to stop when you get to 90 degrees. Circle and close and one last time. Exhale up and over. Flex and separate. Lowering the legs and now, even though she's rolling away, she's drawing energy out her feet, reaching away.

In almost every class you're going to see this reversed. So she'll finish that close. Now, with the toes still pointed, she's going to inhale and open the feet. Exhale up and over. And you'll notice Amy is not whipping her legs over, right.

You saw that control. That's a real big benefit of this exercise. You want to make sure you're not tossing yourself over. She flexes her feet on the way down this time. Oh, isn't that a lovely stretch.

Point, circle. Open around she goes over with her feet apart. From that horizontal position flex stretch then lower and exhale down. We're going to give you one more of those. And by the way, it's not just the abs.

There's some sense of wanting to hang on a little bit with the back of the legs. So even as Amy does this, and she lowers her legs down together, there's this gentle sense of engagement through the hamstrings. That's something to work on later, but it's something to think about. And then fold your knees at the end. That's the Roll Over.

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Helen H
4 people like this.
I've been doing pilates for 9 years. I have scoliosis and am a pear-shaped middle age girl, who can do level 2/3 classes but try as I may, my body will not magically (or with concentration, effort) go into that shape. I see this happening and it is a wonder to me that humans can make a roll over happen. Not sure if it is ab weakness or a concentration of weight in my hips, butt, thigh area but try as I do, I have never been able to pull off a rollover. Not sure what to do when they come up as an adaption. Any ideas?
Can't see the video it's green I can hear you.. Is it me r u?
Hi Kristi and Amy! Love the roll over, always have. When teaching this move to students there have been a couple times where no matter how hard they try they cant do a roll over on the mat. Only on the reformer when their feet are in the straps, and the springs pull their hips up off the carriage. When trying this move on the mat its like their back is a flat tire,no ROM! Their back just flattens as they try to roll over. I encourage them to use arms for ground force reaction to no avail. Any suggestions?
HI Denee, I guess the first thing I'd do is question whether the "flat tire" aspect is lack of ROM or simply lack of understanding.If you think it's lack of ROM, I'd reconsider whether these clients should be doing the Roll over until they do have some flexibility in their spines. The equipment can be very helpful in teaching the rollover, but it will be up to you to help them learn to not rely on the straps to get them over. I think it would be a good idea to add assists on the floor where they can't be pulled over by the straps. For example, any thing that elevates their hips from the start. A few towels, hips on a foam roller maybe? A great way to give someone the feel of the rollover is to use the Spine Corrector with them lying over the barrel (shoulder blades on mat). You can guide them into maintaining contact spine to barrel while the legs go over. That's one option I like to use even for myself now and again.
(Edited by Moderator - Alex Parsons on April 1, 2022)
Tina, are you still having trouble with this video? We don't think there is a problem with the video. Sorry for the delay. If you are having any problems along this line still, please contact us at support@pilatesanytime.com
Noya N
1 person likes this.
Hi Helen Huber, I'm practicing many years pilates as I'm an instructor. One things I know for sure is that our body learns and adept fast. Meaning try to change the way you do thing or even think about, in this case, the rollover. Try to work from your bones/pelvic structure. keep the pelvic on the floor en let it be pulled backwards while rolling forward. good luck!
Thank you Noya!
Great video. I like the reference to melt into the mat. Also, seeing the spinal aligment before flexing the feet is fantastic!
I have been doing pilates a long time but i still struggle to do the roll over with swinging my legs to take me all the way over, any tips on how to really strengthen my self in this. I find this the same in the open leg rocker too
GREAT Amy, thank you both very much!  I struggle to get my right forarm to lie flat on mat as if my elbow is in the way. Any tips on how I can change this?
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