Snow Angels may not necessarily be thought of as a Pilates mat exercise. When I was certified through STOTT Pilates, I learned it for the Cadillac. It wasn’t until I was reading through an Ellie Herman book that I found her doing this exercise on the foam roller.
Although it’s not essential to have a foam roller when practicing this exercise, it is beneficial. When you’re on a foam roller, your back is stabilized but lifted off the floor. This allows for your shoulder blades to move freely and not experience resistance from the surface of the mat.
Snow angels open your chest and stretch your shoulders, but it wasn’t until my physical therapist gave me this exercise as part of my neck therapy that I realized how great it is for the spine. Routinely, as my arms move, I can feel the muscles around my spine start to wake up. It’s not that I feel a burn or anything, but I can feel the spinal muscles start to become more engaged and ready for action.
I know you’re going to be really surprised, but the movement that you’re going to do strongly resembles what you would do to make angels in the snow.
- Use traditional Pilates breathing.
- Come onto your back. If you’re on the foam roller, make sure that you sit all the way at one end of the roller so that, as you lie down, you don’t run out of support. Your pelvis, spine, and head should all be supported by the roller. If your head is off the roller, you can either wiggle your way down so that you’re fully supported; or you can roll off and try again.
- If you are on a roller, ground through your feet and use your abdominals to keep you centered.
- Bring your arms by your sides and, from the shoulders, rotate your palms toward the ceiling. This may create quite a stretch at the shoulders.
- As you inhale, sweep your arms by your sides and reach overhead. Make sure that your shoulder blades slide down and to the sides. This movement will help keep your shoulders out of your ears.
- Exhale and bring your arms, palms facing up, back by your sides.
- Do 10 repetitions. Pay particular attention to your shoulder placement throughout this exercise.
Finding a Foam Roller
If you want to order a foam roller, I recommend the OPTP brand foam roller. Their foam rollers are firm and don’t dent or bend. It’s crucial for your foam roller to be firm and stay the same shape throughout its use.
Foam rollers are a great tool to elevate your Pilates mat work, but they’re also wonderful self-massage tools. Here’s a link to some foam roller stretches.
Snow Angels Video
Here is a video for visual learners.
Where do you feel this exercise most: in the shoulders, chest, or spine? Let us know in the comments below.
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