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How To Do The Mermaid Side Stretch

Pilates In The Grove / Flexibility  / How To Do The Mermaid Side Stretch
Marvin Mermaid Stretch

How To Do The Mermaid Side Stretch

The Mermaid is a common Pilates exercise that can be done on the mat, as well as on the reformer and chair.  It is a great movement to stretch your lats, quadratus lumborum, and intracostal muscles and to improve thoracic spine mobility. 

  1. Begin by assuming a Z-sit position where your knees are side sitting with both knees to one side.  If this causes any discomfort in your hips or knees, you can sit on a yoga or moon box to prevent excessive internal rotation of the hip.  The goal is to have both sit bones level.
  2. Rest your arm closest to your feet on the mat and float your other arm to the side.
  3. Feel yourself lift up as you inhale a deep breath
  4. Gently press your hand down into the mat as you exhale and arc your body up and over to the side using your opposite arm to reach up and over.
  5. Once in side bent position, take a deep inhale floating your ribs up to the ceiling.
  6. Exhale to return to the starting position

Marvin Mermaid StretchMarvin Mermaid Stretch

Marvin Mermaid StretchMarvin Mermaid Stretch

Things To Watch Out For:

  1. Hips lifting of the mat.
  2. Excessive lateral flexion of the head and neck
  3. Excessive shoulder shrugging.

PT Perspective:

From a rehab point of view, the mermaid is a great exercises to improve spinal articulation and emphasize spinal elongation and proper organization of the head, neck, and shoulder in side bending.  Individuals with low back or cervical pain can benefit from this movement when done properly

Precautions:

Individuals with osteoporosis and acute intervertebral disc conditions should avoid this exercise due to the lateral flexion with compression.

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