Pilates moves of the week – Pilates Bridge

The basic Pilates bridge is one of the best classical Pilates movements. The bridge is a great exercise for improving spinal mobility and strengthening muscles of the core and buttocks. It also lengthens the front body and allows a stretch for the hip flexors. We are living in a kyphotic and sedentary age that can stress these structures and the bridge is an ideal movement to counter those negative impacts.  At Physiocare our Pilates Instructors are also Chartered physiotherapists who will guide you through your best Pilates bridge.

The Basic Pilates Bridge


  • A Pilates mat.

Starting position:

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and your legs hip-width apart, with your feet placed on the floor.
  • Knees should be bent at about 90 degrees.
  • Arms are straight and down by your sides.
  • Your pelvis should be in a neutral position. This means that your pelvis level and your tail bone is neither tucked under nor sticking out.

The exercise:

  • Take a deep, full inhale and create space in your spine by imagining it lengthening.
  • Then start to exhale slowly through an open mouth .Breathing in this way aids the movement of your spine.
  • As you breathe, press into your feet and start to peel your spine up into the bridge position. Reach long through your thighs and let your knees move away from your head – you should feel the front of your hips opening up..
  • Make sure those glute,hamstrings and spine extensors are activated by sending your tailbone to the back of your knees.
  • Bridge up to the point where your shoulder blades are on the mat.
  • Pause at the top of your bridge and take an inhale here.
  • Exhale and slowly start to bridge back down.
  • To initiate this first allow your chest to soften.and trickle the spine down the mat.
  • Keep opening through your thighs even as you lower. This will create length and space in your body, and therefore helps to decompress your spine.
  • Your bridge is complete when your body is back resting on the mat with your pelvis in neutral.
  • Repeat 5 – 10 times, or more if you are stronger.
  • Focus on maintaining good form throughout.

Top Tips:

  • Back pain whilst bridging? This is  Make sure you’re sending your tailbone to the back of your knees to activate the core muscles.
  • Don’t come up onto your neck. Remember to keep your chest area soft and your collarbone wide even when your hips are lifted.
  • Press into both feet evenly as you move so the legs are equally engaged.


The Pilates bridge strengthens, stabilises and mobilises the body all at the same time! It will also create much better posture. Bridging strengthens the posterior chain of the body, which means the glutes, hamstrings and spine erectors. It also increases hip flexor length and improves hip extension. These often become tight and painful due to the hunched up desk-bound posture which is so commonly problematic. On top of all that, the bridge activates deep stabiliser muscles, promotes better body awareness and aids relaxation.

Regular bridging also improves spine mobility and is effective when it comes to developing a stable and flexible spine. This is important because having a strong and mobile spine reduces your risk of sustaining back injuries. Creating more movement throughout the spine can also help alleviate existing spinal problem symptoms.

Gripping and over-tensing muscles can be a big problem for people suffering with injuries. Bridging can help with this by decreasing muscle guarding.

The Bridge is an overall wonderful,relaxing, strengthening, mobilising, equipment free exercise that can be modified to suit anybody’s ability. Before participating in any exercise program  physiotherapist or a physician where applicable. At Physiocare we run a range of group and semi private Pilates classes. All our classes are clinical pilates and are led by a physiotherapist. Call us today so you can get started.

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