Pilates Side Kick: A Sneaky Hip Therapy Exercise

side kickAs with many Pilates exercises, the classic Pilates mat exercise Side kick looks simple. It seems to be very straightforward and easy. In fact, you probably won’t even notice the benefits that your body receives from this simple exercise.

For starters, by being side lying and smoothly swinging your top leg, you challenge your core stabilizers. As your leg moves forward, if your stabilizers aren’t working, you may feel a tendency to fall backward. Likewise, as your leg swings to the back, you may feel a desire to roll forward. It’s up to your core to hold everything together in center.

Side kicks also teach your hips to move independently of each other. When we kick with a single leg, we allow one hip to rotate while the other stays stable in neutral. As the leg kicks forward, the hip rotates posteriorly. Then, the leg kicks to the back, and the hip rotates anteriorly. It is crucial for the hips to rotate independently of each other.

Think about walking. As you take a step forward, the front leg’s hip rotates posteriorly while the back leg’s hip rotates anteriorly. Without this rotation, pain and dysfunction will be present in each step you take.

Side Kick

  1. Align yourself along the back edge of your mat. This is the best way to make sure that you’re in a 100% straight line.
  2. Let your bottom arm bend, and rest your head on top of your arm. To increase the difficulty of this exercise, lift your upper body, and use your elbow as a prop. The tips of your fingers go behind the back of your ear. Make sure to keep your abdominals working throughout the exercise so that your rib cage doesn’t drop. If your ribs drop, you will be putting stress on your spine. Another way to increase the challenge of this exercise is to reach the top arm toward the ceiling. This will ensure that your spine stays stable, and it will challenge the core muscles that help you balance.
  3. Flex your feet at the ankles.
  4. Draw your abdominals to your spine, and lift both feet up off the mat. Make sure that you have not jammed your hip down into the mat to lift your legs. The lift should come from core strength.
  5. Bring your legs to the front corner of your mat and lower them.
  6. Lift the top leg to hip level.
  7. Inhale twice as you kick your leg further and further. The idea is that your leg stays moving through your kick as you inhale twice.
  8. side kickExhale, point your foot, and reach your leg behind you. Be mindful that you don’t let your leg drop. It should stay even with your hips.
  9. Complete 5-10 repetitions.
  10. Switch sides.

Side Kick Video

Here is a video for visual learners.

How else does Side kick challenge you? Let us know in the comments below.

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About Sarah Stockett

Hi, I'm Sarah! I'm a certified Pilates and yoga instructor with a passion for pain relief. I believe you can use simple exercises to relieve your aches + pains. AND, I believe I can teach you how.