Standing Pilates - Wall Roll Down

Start Position

Wall roll down is a simple way to practice using your abs to achieve the articulated curve of the spine that we use so much in Pilates. It stretches the back and the hamstrings, as it works the abdominals, and teaches good posture. What's better than that?

This is a good way to train for more challenging exercises like the roll up, where you also use the sequential activation of upper and lower abs to curl and un-curl the torso.

Modify wall roll down by only going down as far as you are comfortable, bending your knees slightly, and leaving your arms at your sides.

To Start:
  • Stand tall against a wall. Leaving your body on the wall, walk your feet six to ten inches away from the wall.

  • Pull your abdominals in.

  • Keep your shoulders away from your ears, your chest wide and your ribs down as you raise your arms straight up over head.

Begin the Roll Down

standing Pilates
Begin the Roll Down. (c) 2006, Marguerite Ogle, licensed to, Inc.

  • Your arms stay parallel to your ears as you nod your head and begin to slowly roll your spine down and away from the wall, vertebrae by vertebrae.

  • The abdominals stay lifted and there is a sense of lengthening the spine as you roll down.

Deepen the Curve

standing Pilates
Slowly, vertebrae by vertebrae. c) 2006, Marguerite Ogle, licensed to, Inc.

  • As the roll down progresses, you have the opportunity to deepen the scoop of the abs even more.

    Work slowly, peeling the spine away from the wall.

    Let your head and neck relax.

At the Deepest Curve

standing Pilates Roll Down
at the Deepest Curve. (c) 2006, Marguerite Ogle, licensed to, Inc

  • Roll down as far as you can go without letting your hips leave the wall. Your abdominals are very pulled in.

  • Feel the curve evenly along the upper, middle and lower sections of your torso.

  • You could be getting a good hamstring stretch here.

The Return - More for the Abs

standing Pilates pictures
return the pelvis to upright. (c) 2006, Marguerite Ogle, licensed to, Inc.

  • Begin your return up the wall by initiating the roll up with your lower abs. This is a powerhouse move.
    Think of using the lower abs to bring your pelvis to an upright position.

  • Continue up, placing each vertebrae on the wall, one by one.

  • As you roll up, your arms travel alongside your ears and the shoulders stay relaxed.

The Finale - Standing with Extension

standing pilates pictures
Stand Tall. (c) 2006, Marguerite Ogle, licensed to, Inc.

  • As you come close to upright, you will feel a moment when you can let the ribs stay down as shoulders drop into place. It feels a bit like your upper body is rolling up between your shoulders.

  • Bring your roll up to the starting position. Be sure your abs are engaged and your shoulders are dropped.

  • Arms are overhead with wide shoulders and an open chest.

Wall Roll Down is a perfect transition exercise for taking your Pilates awareness into your daily life. You might want to review Pilates Posture Check. You might also like to explore more Pilates rolling back exercises

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