Table Top Position, Your Key to Pilates Alignment

table top positionI can’t even think of all of the Pilates exercise that begin with table top position. Just off the top of my head, table top is the key to proper alignment for The Hundred, Single leg stretch, Double leg stretch, Scissors, and even one variation of Rolling like a ball.

So often, table top is used as a means to get somewhere else. You transition through to get to The Hundred, for example. However, lifting to table top can be its own challenge.

In my present condition with a broken neck, lifting my legs to table top is a maximal challenge. To do this exercise correctly requires strength and stability from my abs and back. Also, lifting the legs to table top is a great challenge for anyone recovering from umbilical hernia surgery, a C-section, or diastasis rectus abdominis.

Before practicing this exercise, make sure you have your doctor’s consent. Although it is therapeutic when done at the correct time, it can be damaging if done incorrectly or before you are cleared for physical therapy.

Table Top Position

  1. Begin on your back with your knees bent, heels in line with your SITs bones.
  2. Relax your shoulders away from your ears.
  3. Make sure your spine is in neutral. If your abdominals are weak, make a triangle with your hands by connecting your pointer fingers and thumbs. Place this under your sacrum (tailbone) to help keep your pelvis neutral throughout the exercise. Otherwise, let your arms rest by your side.
  4. Take a nice, deep inhale.
  5. Completely exhale. Feel the air leave your abdominal cavity and chest, but don’t let your spine move.
  6. We will use Pilates breathing.
  7. While keeping the muscles active that connect your ribs to your hips, inhale into the sides of your ribs. I think of trying to close any space between my arm pits and my ribs.
  8. As you exhale through pursed lips, lift one leg so that the knee is directly over the hip and the ankle is in line with the knee. Lift the other leg so that they match. Either flex, point, or floint your foot at the ankle. (When you floint, your foot looks like it’s wearing an invisible high heeled shoe. This is a great option for those who get foot cramps.)
  9. Engage the adductors (inner thighs) so you can feel the muscle connection from your adductors to your abdominals.
  10. Hold and inhale into the sides of your ribs.
  11. Exhale and set one foot down, then the other.
  12. You can do this exercise as many times as you’d like. It is key, however, that you pay attention to your form. As soon as your form starts to deteriorate, it’s time to stop.

Table Top Position Video

Here is a video for visual learners.

What do you think? Can you feel your core work when you do Table Top? Let us know in the comments.

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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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