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Movement Monday: Unlocking the True Potential of the Saw in Pilates


Perfecting the Saw: Malcolm exemplifies spine stretch and rotation, focusing on deep abdominal engagement and mindful spine mobility
Malcolm demonstrating the essence of spinal flexibility and rotation with the Saw, a testament to core strength and precision in Pilates

In today’s Movement Monday, we turn our attention to an often-misunderstood Pilates gem: the Saw. Often perceived as a hamstring-lengthening exercise, the Saw, in essence, offers a profound exploration of spinal rotation and flexion. As Pilates teachers, our role is to guide our students through the journey of discovering the true intent behind each movement, ensuring they gain the full spectrum of benefits. Today, let’s delve into the Saw, an exercise that embodies the fusion of spine twist and spine stretch, and uncover its real value in our Pilates practice.


The Misconception

Many practitioners approach the Saw primarily as a means to lengthen the hamstrings. While it’s true that the exercise involves a forward-reaching motion that can stretch the back of the legs, this perspective may lead to overlooking its core benefits. The essence of the Saw extends far beyond mere hamstring flexibility.


The True Essence

The Saw is a celebration of spinal mobility. It intricately combines spine twist and spine stretch, inviting the body to experience rotation and flexion simultaneously. This duality encourages a deeper engagement of the abdominal muscles, supports spinal health, and promotes better posture.


Executing the Saw with Precision

To reap the benefits of the Saw, focus on the following key elements:


1. Foundation: Begin seated with your legs extended wide and arms open to the sides. Anchor your sit bones firmly to the ground, ensuring a stable base.


2. Rotation: Initiate the movement with a spinal twist towards one leg, leading with your opposite arm. Visualise wringing out your waist to maximise the rotational aspect.


3. Flexion: As you reach forward, think of extending your spine over an imaginary ball. This encourages spine lengthening rather than collapsing, deepening the stretch while maintaining alignment.


4. Mindful Engagement: Keep your focus on the movement of your spine. Feel each vertebra rotate and flex, acknowledging the exercise’s primary purpose.


Beyond Flexibility: The Saw as a Spinal Elixir

The true beauty of the Saw lies in its ability to enhance spinal health. By emphasising rotation and flexion, we encourage mobility and flexibility in the spine, essential components for overall well-being. Additionally, this movement helps to correct imbalances and realign the body, offering a holistic approach to physical health.


In Conclusion

As we explore the depths of the Saw in our Pilates practice, let’s shift our perspective from merely stretching the hamstrings to embracing the comprehensive benefits of spinal mobility. This Movement Monday, encourage your students to delve into the essence of the Saw, unlocking the full potential of their spine’s movement and enhancing their Pilates journey.

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