So I’m happily carrying out my Ab-Solutely Brilliant (TM) tummy plan – but there’s one move I’d like to add. Now depending if you are a pilates woman or a yoga queen you will refer to these, respectively, as Pelvic Curls, or Bridge Pose. If you’re one neither of those things, it’s basically the move that means you curl yourself up (vertebrae by vertebrae as my pilates instructor used to say over and over and over again) and end up looking like her below…..at the same time of doing this you’re pulling your navel to your spine/pulling up your pelvic floor muscles and this leads to a flatter tummy.
The reason I like it is that I can actually feel my stomach flattening as I do it – and I find the position strangely soothing to be in. The reason I don’t like it is, that, invariably about two seconds into performing the pose for the second time in my routine, my left hamstring will cramp. It will cramp in a way that triggers me to shout (internally) words of four letters that must be written to include at least one asterix in polite society. It will also cause me to plummet to the mat grasping said hamstring, which will then hurt for the rest of my workout. Obviously this is not the desired effect. Cue quick email request asking for friendly Pilates teachers to solve my problem.
First to reply was London based teacher and author of numerous books Caron Bosler. ‘You’ve got weak hamstrings,’ she told me. ‘As well as toning your stomach, this move also strengthens your hamstrings – but if yours are weak and you’re going all the way into a full bridge you will get problems.’ The good news is, there is a solution. The muscle I’m trying to target with this move is the transverse abdominis (or abdominus depending on your spelling preference) – which is deep inside the abdomen and is the one that pulls in your poochy bit. ‘But you don’t need to go into a full bridge to hit this, just curl your tailbone up about two inches,’ says Caron.
So I tried it, and she’s right – I still get the tummy flattening feel, but no agonising cramping. Excellent, consider the move added to the regime.
Image: istockphoto.com @ liangpv