Analysis of Push-Up Exercise

The first method requires articulating the spine by flexing downwards and walking to Front Support using the shoulder flexors with different parts like the anterior deltoid, pectoralis major and biceps brachii. The torso forwards over the arm using the shoulder extensors including parts such as anterior deltoid, pectoralis major, coracobrachialis and biceps brachii.To lift the entire body weight, the triceps brachii is vital. The shoulder flexors keeps the chest lifted  and prevent the upper torso from losing balance and falling back onto the mat. At the same time, the abdominal core is constantly engaged with the working of the anterior spinal stabilizers such as the rectus abdominis, external and internal oblique and, transversus abdominis. This also aids ribcage stabilization and respiration.

The pelvis should be lifted to make use of the abdominal muscles which at the same time prevents arching of the lower back and thus, avoid overlifted buttocks. Prevention of arching helps put more weight in the triceps brachii. Hip flexors should be used to avoid hip hyperextension when arms walk forward and pelvis lower. The parts of hip flexor for aid are iliopsoas and rectus femoris. The bottom pelvis when coming to an alignment with the ankles and shoulder should use hip extensors including gluteus maximus and hamstring. The knee extensors,quadriceps femoris firms to provide a complete alignment of the body together with the straightening of the spinal extensors and posterior spinal stabilizers; erector spinae.

At starting position, the scapular abductors which includes serratus anterior and pectoralis major should keep firm to keep scapulae wide and the knee extensors to keep knees straight forming a straight alignment from head to heels. The elbows is by the sides with the elbow extensors in an eccentric contraction; shoulder flexors controlling the backward movement of the upper arms when lifting the body back up.

As the elbow extensors straighten the elbows, the shoulder flexors bring the upper arms forward to raise the chest back to the starting position. The triceps brachii and anconeus are the parts of the elbow extensors that helps to complete the mechanism.

At the end of the exercise, the body is brought back to neutral by walking backwards while slowly articulating the spine vertebrae by vertebrae, the abdominals or belly still sucked in. The hip extensors helps pull down the sit bones, bringing the pelvis back to neutral while stabilizing it.

Push-up exercise mainly focuses on providing a neutral Front Support with the right technique of using the abdominals and scapular abductors. It uses the arms more than the legs. The overall benefit of the exercise strengthens core muscles to help achieve a coordinated transition from spinal flexion to extension and flexion. It helps increase the flexibility of hamstring muscles.


Iris Yong

Pilates Theory Assignment ( Workout analysis)

19th April 2013



Pilates Anatomy (Human Kinetics) by Rael Isacowitz & Karen Clippinger (p145-147)

Ribcage Stabilization

Ribcage stabilization is vital in pilates exercise as it provides longer endurance and prevent body injuries through inhalation and exhalation techniques. It provides the upper thoracic spine alignment in a neutral position whereby the ribcage is not pushed into the mat and thus, maintain the natural C-curve of the spine. The muscles that are linked in ribcage stabilization includes the sternocleidomastoids, scalene , internal and external intercostals , diaphragm, internal and external obliques , rectus abdominis and, transverse abdominis .

The muscles in between the ribcages are layers of inspiratory and expiratory muscle fibers. The inspiratory muscles slope downward and upward during contraction to move the ribs upward and forward. It aids the rigidness of the ribcage allowing twisting movements and prevention of the ribs collapsing from negative pressure generated from movement of the diaphragm. This entire mechanism is essential for movements such as lifting, pushing and pulling using intercostal muscles. Sternomastoid attached to the top of the sternum and upper two ribs, clavicle which links to cervical vertebrae and mastoid process lift the top of the chest during contraction.

When doing pilates exercises, inhalation for ribcage stabilization is important when arm movements overhead are performed and shoulder blades should be kept stable at all times. The power of the engaged abdominal core and exhalation should ensure the shoulder blades on the mat. Poor stabilization and tension results in mid and upper back muscles gripping and spine to extend or arch which is not ideal for the imprinting of the lumbar vertebrae on the mat. Here, inspiration should bring the ribs outwards and to the sides, lengthening the thoracic vertebrae column and is called diaphragm contraction. Exhalation should be done in a steady way through pursed lips and ribcage should be drawn into the sternum or centre. During exhalation, the diaphragm moves into the abdominal compartment and raises intraabdominal pressure to aid the abdominal muscles in stabilizing the spine.[i]The rectus abdominis, transversus abdominis , internal and external obliques are active muscles during exhalation and also for postural muscles, rotating and flexing the trunk. Contraction of abdominal walls from abdominal muscles should keep a spinal stability and postural control.

Lateral breathing or intercostal breathing provides lateral expansion of the ribcage by deeply engaging inner core of the abdominal muscles; pulling the abdominal muscles inwards. A stable core is a vital part of stabilization. It provides support for the middle trunk.

When stabilizing the ribcage, one should make sure that the spinal extensors is not contracted for the purpose of jutting the ribcage forward by the attachment of the upper abdominal muscles onto the ribcage to pull the front ribs slightly down to its neutral alignment. Pilates exercises involving spinal flexion should have the front of lower ribcage down for maximum spinal flexion for a full C-curve.

The stability of the overall ribcage diaphragm, abdominal core and pelvis are related; the chest and pelvis one of the few vital parts and can be examined more during imprinting prior to workout. Different relevant muscles should work together in order to achieve ribcage stability.


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