12. The Swan-Dive

 

Stop looking at me swaaaaan! --Billy Madison

 

Swan is the first of only a few extension exercises in the classical order of the Pilates repertoire. In our modern world there is so much spine flexion with sitting, driving, texting, etc. extension throughout the day is a must. My spine loves to extend, so any version of swan is a welcomed activity. Joe didn't break down the swan dive as far as I know. I've found the progression listed under modifications to be a safe and efficient way to learn swan dive/swan rocking. Your swan might look different and that's okay. Use what's available and safe for your spine. 

 

Click here for the Swan-Dive VIDEO

 

Classical start: lie on stomach with chin on the floor arms at side. During the rocking phase are out to the side rather than overhead in the classical version. Breath pattern is opposite in the classical version.

Recommended start: See modifications for recommended exercise progressions to be successful and safe with swan-dive. 

 

1. Lie on stomach with hands near shoulders, exhale to press into swan. take a tiny sip of air. 

 

3. Exhale to slide hands away from pelvis until they are overhead, simultaneously rocking so that head comes towards the floor and maintaining the extended shape of the spine. Feet will go up in the air.

 

4. Inhale to rock feet back to floor and head away from floor. Continue rocking motion four to six times. Suggested breath pattern: inhale as head goes up, exhale as head moves to floor. 

 

Hoping to get a video up soon.

Modifications: progression of exercises to lead up to swan dive. 

baby swan to swan to swan dive/swan catch to swan rocking/swan dive

 

Baby Swan

 

1. Lie on stomach with hands near shoulders, palms down. Float nose just off of the floor. Slightly tip pubic bone towards into the floor and move shoulder blades towards ears.

 

2. Exhale to glide shoulder blades away from ears. Raise head and chest off of the floor. Range of motion varies widely.

 

3. Inhale as you lower chest to floor and shoulder blades float back towards ears.

 

To improve stability in lumbar spine: tip pubic bone into floor/towards nose. Motion should occur at the thoracic spine (upper back), not in the lumbar spine (lower back)

Swan

 

1. Lie on stomach with hands near shoulders, palms down. Float nose just off of the floor. Slightly tip pubic bone towards into the floor and move shoulder blades towards ears.

 

2. Exhale to glide shoulder blades away from ears. Raise head and chest off of the floor. Continue peeling off of the floor by straightening elbows, keeping even distribution of motion throughout spine. Elbow might completely straighten, might not. Hips might stay on the floor, might not.

 

3. Inhale lowering head/chest back to the floor by bending elbows. 

 

To improve spinal stability: tip pubic bone into the floor, limit motion at low back and neck to the motion available in upper back, keep shoulder blades away from ears during step two. You should feel arms and abdominal muscles working and zero pressure in low back. Once you master swan with little to no difficulty then swan dive/catch and swan rocking will be significantly easier. 

Swan dive (swan catch)

 

1. Lie on stomach with hands near shoulders, exhale to press into swan. take a tiny sip of air. 

 

3. Exhale to slide hands away from pelvis until they are overhead, simultaneously rocking to that head comes towards the floor and maintaining the extended shape of the spine. Feet will go up in the air.

 

4. Inhale to rock feet back to floor and head away from floor. Return hands to floor and "catch" in the swan position. Repeat four to six times.

 

To avoid bobblehead swan dive/catch: reach legs out and up when they head to ceiling, slide hands away from pelvis along the floor to maintain spine extension. 

 

 

Location

Located across from the MKT trail parking lot on Forum

 

2718 Forum Boulevard, Suite 4A

Columbia, MO 65203

 

jamie@limitlesspilates.com

314-560-7270

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