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Home Practice, Bridge with Feet on the Wall

Bridge is a wonderful exercise that can help with improving strength of the gluts and the hamstrings, as well as improve the mobility of the spine. I remember when I was at the earlier stages of my personal Pilates Journey, my hamstrings would often cramp when I was bridging. I love the Bridge variation with feet on the wall as it often helps with lifting the pelvis much higher than if the feet were on the ground, also with the wall version there are many more options for footplacement at an angle that could decrease or increase the effort from the hamstrings simply by placing the feet at a higher or lower angle in relation to the pelvis.

When practicing bridge with feet on the wall please be sure to use a mat with sufficient padding, in order to protect the vertebrae from direct pressure with hard flooring. Also please be mindful when lifting the pelvis not to lift the shoulders off the mat as having weight on the shoulders and arms prevents transfer of too much weight towards the neck and head.

Begin by lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the wall, with the knees bent at roughly a 90 degree angle. Inhale as you gently press your arms down by your side and slide your shoulder blades slightly towards each other, which will help with activation of the upper back, the arms, and shoulder muscles for additional support. With the exhale, lift the pelvis off the ground into a bridge position, inhale while pausing at the peak of the bridge position, exhale while lowering the pelvis back down to the ground.

To work on improving the strength of the hamstrings and gluts, repeat the basic bridge 5-10 times as a warm up, then maintain the bridge position, walk the feet a few steps up the wall towards the ceiling, followed by a few steps down the wall towards the ground. Walk the feet up and down the wall three times before lowering the pelvis to the ground, repeat 5-10 times. Another fun variation is to hold the peak of the bridge position and walk the feet a few steps away from one another so the feet end up in a position wider apart than shoulder distance, followed by walking the feet towards each other so they are together. Repeat three times before lowering the pelvis to the ground. Repeat 5-10 times. Explore how the hamstring and gluts respond if you try this variation with the legs turned out.

To help with mobilizing the spine I like to imagine the vertebrae of the spine are music notes, and I am going up the musical scale do re mi fa sol la ti do, and rolling down the musical scale. Articulating the spine one vertebrae after another helps with stretching the muscles of the back. The pressure off the ground against the muscles while rolling down is also like self massage of the back muscles.

Repeat the articulated bridge 5-10 times. To increase the mobility of the spine hold the peak of the bridge position and rotate the pelvis towards the right, by lowering the right hip lower than the left hip and vice versa rotate the pelvis toward the left by lowering the left hip lower than the right. Repeat the pelvis rotation three times before articulating the spine back down with the pelvis level. Repeat 3-5 times.

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