Pilates Table top position is a great exercise to help you regain abdominal strength and pelvic stability if you are recovering from an injury.
Back when I had a broken neck, lifting my legs to Pilates Table top was a maximal challenge–and not just because I spent three months immobilizing my neck and limiting the activities of the rest of my spine. Table top is challenging because it requires strength and stability from your abs and back.
Because of this, lifting to Table top is one of the first exercises I teach in Pilates. Whether you’re recovering from an injury or just learning about the body/mind connection in Pilates and yoga, it’s helpful to practice this exercise.
Although this exercise is great therapeutic core-strengthener, it’s also an important transition for many Pilates exercises. Some of the Pilates exercises that pass through Table top are:
- The Hundred,
- Single leg stretch,
- Double leg stretch,
- Scissors, and even
- one variation of Rolling like a ball.
Whether you’re wanting to learn the basics of Pilates or rehabilitate yourself after an injury, here’s everything you need to know about how to do Pilates Table top.
If you’re interested in learning the basics of Pilates and yoga, I offer a FREE 30-day challenge. Sign up to learn yoga and Pilates now!
Pilates Table Top Position
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.
- Begin on your back with your knees bent, heels in line with your SITs bones. Your SITs bones are your sacral ischial tuberosities, but most people just call them the SITs bones because they’re the bones that press into the mat when you sit on your bottom.
- Relax your shoulders away from your ears.
- 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.
- Take a nice, deep inhale. Breathe however you’d like, and let everything fill with air.
- Completely exhale. Feel the air leave your abdominal cavity and chest, but don’t let your spine move. At the end of your exhale, you should feel completely deflated.
- We will use Pilates breathing.
- While keeping the muscles active that connect your ribs to your hips, inhale through your nose into the sides of your ribs. I think of trying to close any space between my armpits and my ribs.
- 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.)
- Engage the adductors (inner thighs) so you can feel the muscle connection from your adductors to your abdominals.
- Hold and inhale into the sides of your ribs.
- Exhale and set one foot down, then the other.
- 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.
For the Visual Learners…
Below is a video for visual learners (or for people who want to watch a gal in a neck brace struggle with a Pilates fundamental movement).
Before You Do Pilates Table Top…
Regardless of whether you are trying to recover from an injury or not, make sure you move mindfully. We can do so much good for the body when we move our muscles with clear intentions. However, when we move thoughtlessly, it can cause injury. So, pay attention to what you’re doing.
Also, if you’re interested in learning the basics of Pilates and yoga, I offer a FREE 30-day challenge. Sign up to learn yoga and Pilates now!