Imprint: Mastering Pelvic Tilts

neutral alignment with arms lifted, preparing to imprintImprint is a fundamental Pilates exercise. In STOTT matwork, it is the second exercise you do (after breathing). It is used at multiple points in a mat class because it protects the low back from any strain or injury. In fact, if you have ever hurt your back and gone to physical therapy, this was probably one of the first exercises they gave you.

Today, we’re going to discuss how to do Imprint correctly. Imprint is an exercise that looks very simple, and it can be. However, you can also recruit unnecessary muscles which can cause pain later on. Here’s a step-by-step on what to do.

  1. Get on your back with your knees bent, feet in line with your SITs bones (the bony part of your bottom), and arms reaching long by your side.
  2. Make sure your pelvis is in neutral. To do this, connect your pointer fingers and thumbs to make
    The thumb and pointer finger are in the same plane, indicating thatthe the pelvis is neutral.
    This is what you will see when your pelvis is neutral.

    a triangle. Place the heels of your hands on your pelvis and your connected pointer fingers on your pubic bone. Look at your hands. Are your thumbs and pointer fingers in the same plane? They should be. Make any adjustments you need to get to this neutral position. Once in neutral, you can leave your hands in this position to observe how your pelvis moves in and out of neutral or you can return your hands by your sides.

  3. Make sure your neck is in neutral. Your chin should not be tilted up above your forehead.
  4. Breathe as you would while doing any Pilates exercise. For more information, see my post on Pilates Breathing.a picture of the low back with the pelvis is tilting in to imprint
  5. Find a spot about 1 inch below your belly button. Inhale and, as you exhale, think of drawing that spot on a diagonal line down toward your spine. This movement should result in your low back reaching toward the floor (although probably not fully touching it and becoming flat). Your hips and glutes should feel relaxed, since they are not supposed to be working in this exercise.
  6. Find the muscles of the low back, and use them to lift your low back away from the floor, a picture of the low back in neutralreturning your pelvis to neutral. If you’re not sure how to find those muscles and this movement, here’s an idea. Imagine you’re out with a person you don’t really like and they put their hand on your low back. Possibly you would be polite and wouldn’t pull away or make a big deal about it, but inside of you, every fiber of your being would be trying to get away. This is the image that I use to get my pelvis to return to neutral.
  7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 while breathing. Make sure your neck stays in neutral and your shoulders stay away from your ears.

Here is a video to talk you through it and give you a visual.

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Sarah Stockett is STOTT certified in Matwork, Reformer, Cadillac, Chair, & Barrels, Injuries & Special Populations, and CORE; a Yoga Alliance RYT-200; and has studied Active Isolated Stretching. When she is not trying to discover the best exercises to get rid of pain, she likes watching movies and travelling with her family.

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