Pilates Tailbone Exercises
Tight muscles around the tailbone may cause pain in this area. Weak muscles of the core make holding proper alignment of the spine difficult. Pilates is an ideal form of exercise to prevent problems around the tailbone because certain Pilates exercises massage the spinal muscles as well as strengthen the deep muscles that compress the abdominal contents and support the lower back. The transverse adbominus and oblique abdominal muscles are deep muscles underneath the top stomach muscle, which is the rectus abdominus.
Pilates Coccyx Curls
Coccyx is the proper name for the tailbone. Pilates coccyx curls combine the Pilates principle of a neutral spine position as well as the exercises of the abdominal scoop and the bridge. These exercises strengthen the abs, glutes and lower back. The position of the tailbone changes during the exercise as you manipulate this area during the exercise. You cannot achieve a neutral spine position without learning to place your tailbone in the correct spot. To begin, lie face up on the floor with the feet flat and knee bent. Arms relax at your sides. Tuck your tailbone and then arch your lower back a few times until you find a balanced, comfortable neutral spine position. Slip your hand under your lower back. It should just fit. Then, scoop your abdominals by sucking in your stomach to press the tailbone and back flat. Next, tighten your glutes and slowly roll your buttocks and tailbone off the floor, continuing up your spine until only your head, shoulders, arms and feet touch the floor. This is the bridge. Return to the floor by reversing the movement down your spine.
The seal is a classic mat Pilates exercise that massages the spine from tailbone to neck. The ab muscles get a workout from maintaining an abdominal scoop to support and round your back. To perform the seal, sit up straight on your buttocks so you can feel your "sitting bones" pressing into the floor and not your tailbone. Sit with bent knees and feet on the floor. Reach between your thighs and grasp behind your thighs, the outsides of your ankles or the outsides of your feet by the arches. Squeeze your thighs and resist with your arms. Scoop your abs as described above and round your spine, including your neck. Tap the feet together three times like a seal clapping its flippers and then roll onto your tailbone and back along your spine until you reach your upper back. Balance and tap your feet three more times. Roll back up to seated.
Rolling Spinal Massage
Rolling is a simple Pilates exercise to release tension along the spine, including the tailbone. You will roll along your tailbone and up the spine, but do not roll onto your neck as this could cause neck injury. To perform the rolling exercise, lie on your back and bend your knees into your chest. Wrap your arms around your shins to hug your legs. Tilt your chin to your chest. Then, roll forward onto your tailbone and then back up your spine but not onto the neck. Do this for the desired number of reps. Also, you can roll side to side along the lower back to further target the tailbone. Keep your knees hugged into your chest as you lie on your back and gently roll to the right and left.
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Andrea Boldt has been in the fitness industry for more than 20 years. A personal trainer, run coach, group fitness instructor and master yoga teacher, she also holds certifications in holistic and fitness nutrition.