What does the Pilates scissors exercise do?
This exercise challenges the control around our pelvis and hips with reciprocal movements of the legs. This exercise engages the body’s anterior oblique sling (consisting of the internal and external oblique muscles) which is important to maintain stability at the pelvis, as well as working on strengthening of the lower abdominal muscles.
Scissors exercise can be helpful for walkers or runners with lower back pain.
The higher level of this exercise when the legs are extended/straight also adds an additional active stretch of the hamstring muscles as well as strengthening the upper abdominal muscles by adding an abdominal prep position. At this level the exercise is more indicated for agile athletes such as gymnasts or dancers.
Pilates scissors exercise description
Inhale to prepare as you exhale lift one leg into tabletop position. Inhale holding this position then as you exhale, maintaining the knee at 90 degrees, lower the leg to the floor. Repeat alternating legs.
Float both legs one at a time into a tabletop position. Inhale to prepare then as you exhale, maintaining the knee at 90 degrees, lower the leg to the floor taping the tips of your toes onto the mat. As you inhale bring the leg back into tabletop. Then as you exhale lower the opposite leg, taping the tips of your toes onto the mat, and then floating back into double tabletop as you inhale. Repeat alternating legs.
Double table top increasing the speed
Float both legs one at a time into a tabletop position. Inhale to prepare then as you exhale, maintaining the knee at 90 degrees, complete two reciprocal scissors movements of your legs. Your legs will interchange halfway through the movement. Then as you inhale, complete two reciprocal scissors movements of your legs. Repeat exhaling for two alternating leg movements and inhaling for two alternating leg movements
You can progress this level further by adding and holding the abdominal prep position during the movement.
Float both legs one at a time into a tabletop position. As you exhale lift your upper body into the abdo prep position and reach your arms towards your ankles. Inhale to prepare. Then as you exhale extend one leg towards the ceiling and extend the opposite leg so it is hovering above and parallel with the floor. Place your hands around the leg extended to the ceiling and two ‘pulse’ movements of the leg, increasing the stretch of your hamstrings. Then take a short breath in and as you exhale, keeping your legs straight, alternate their position. Again pulsing the leg extended to the ceiling for two pulsing movements. Repeat alternating legs.
- Watch you are not losing your neutral spine position of your pelvis as you are lowering your leg.
- When you are in double tabletop imagine you are dipping your foot into a bucket of water, if it feels too difficult to lower your leg all the way to the floor then just lower the leg half way, so imagine you are just dipping your foot half way into the bucket!
- Watch for any doming of your rectus abdominis/ tummy muscles – always aiming to keep the tummy flat throughout the movement.
- Make sure the distance between your hip bones and ribcage stays the same throughout the movement and you do not feel your ribcage ‘flaring’.
Avoid doing Scissors exercise if:
- If you are Post natal and unable to control doming of your tummy muscles – this may be a little too challenging for your lower abdominal muscles at the moment.
- If you have a diastasis recti post natally
- Ante natal
- If you have acute low back pain or Sacroliliac joint pain
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