The pelvic clock exercise is a popular Pilates exercise that trains core awareness and helps you understand how to position your pelvis to correct muscular imbalances in the core region.
You’re probably thinking that ‘pelvic clock’ is a strange name for an exercise and that’s understandable; many people do.
Don’t worry about that. You’ll get to understand the reason behind the name in a few but before then, let’s talk about how to do it with the correct form.
- Lie on the floor (or a mat) with your feet on the floor and your knees bent.
- Put your spine in a neutral position so that your lower back is naturally carving.
- Relax your shoulders and neck, moving your shoulders away from your ears. At this point, your chest should be open and your ribcage lowered.
- Support your head with a pillow or your neck with a neck roll if you think you need it.
- Press your hands together so that the fingertips of both index fingers and those of your thumbs are touching.
- Place your hands on your lower belly with your fingertips resting lightly on your pubic bone. This will help you feel movement in your pelvis.
- Take a few seconds here to get in sync with your body, breathing deeply as you do.
- Breathe in and breathe out, and then tighten your core so that your belly button is drawn in towards your spine. This will lengthen your spine to create a pelvic tilt.
- Inhale and use your core to tilt the pelvis until you create a slight arch in your lower back.
- Exhaling, push your hips down as you push your navel lower.
- Breathe in and repeat the last two steps in the opposite direction.
- Repeat both directions 2-3 times.
To understand this exercise better, imagine there is a clock lying on the lower side of your abdomen.
The twelve o’clock point is at your belly button, the six o’clock point at the top of the pubic bone, and three and nine o’clock at your hip bones.
Then, you engage your abdominal muscles to move your pelvis an inch or two in each direction. The goal here is to do the movement as smoothly as possible with the abs only and not your back.
You should aim at isolating pelvic movement so that your upper body remains relaxed and still, and your hip sockets allow your pelvis to move without involving your legs.
WHAT MUSCLES DOES THE PELVIC CLOCK EXERCISE WORK?
The pelvic clock exercise uses your abdominal muscles to train your pelvic floor, which then engages your spine for stability.
It also recruits your hip flexors to help with moving your hip bones as you tilt your pelvis.
BENEFITS OF THE PELVIC CLOCK EXERCISE
RELIEVES PELVIC PAIN IN PREGNANT WOMEN
During pregnancy when the foetus is growing in size, the mother’s joints become more flexible and the pelvis is tilted to create more space.
The pelvic clock exercise can help relieve such pain and prepare your pelvic floor for labour contractions.
STRENGTHENS THE PELVIC FLOOR
The pelvic clock exercise can help develop strength in your pelvic floor especially when you use it together with Kegel exercises.
LOOSENS TIGHT HIP FLEXORS
If you spend most days sitting down for long hours, chances are you have tight hip flexors.
By working your pelvic floor, this exercise will help loosen up those hip flexors and prevent/relieve soreness in your hip muscles.
ALTERNATIVES TO THE PELVIC CLOCK EXERCISE
Named for the way your hips and legs look like a clamshell when you are performing the exercise, this movement strengthens your thighs and hips while stabilizing the pelvic muscles and toning the glutes.
You can do it anywhere, with little space and minimal equipment.
- Lie on the floor on your side, with your legs stacked and the knees bent at 45 degrees.
- Place your head on the lower arm, and use the upper part to stabilize your frame. Make sure you stack the hipbones on top of each other to prevent your hips from rocking backward.
- Engage your abdominal muscles by drawing your navel in to help stabilize your pelvis and spine.
- With your feet pressed together, raise your upper knee, going as high as you can without causing a shift in your pelvis or hips. Your lower leg should not move off the ground.
- Pause for a second or two, and then get the upper leg back to the starting position.
- Do as many reps as you want.
The hip hike develops core and hip strength.
It makes for a great alternative to the pelvic clock exercise because it also improves your pelvic alignment.
- Stand sideways on a box or a small step where your pelvis is higher.
- Drive down through your foot to lift the opposite pelvis high while making sure your spine remains straight.
- Hold this position for ten seconds before returning to the starting position.
PELVIC CLOCK EXERCISE MISTAKES TO AVOID
TENSING YOUR GLUTES
Make sure you start the movement by relaxing the glutes and letting the tailbone fall.
This way, you will be able to release the entire pelvic floor so that you don’t initiate the movement from your back.
OVERARCHING YOUR BACK
A slight arch is allowed, but try not to arch your back so much that you are straining your spine and making your upper body move.
There aren’t many exercises that specifically train your pelvic floor, so you should be glad you came across the pelvic clock exercise.
You’d be pleased to know that aside from strengthening your pelvic floor, this exercise also helps isolate your core and relieve tightness in the lower back as well as your hip flexors.
Also, if you find it particularly difficult to work with the imagination of a clock placed on your lower abdomen, you can instead buy an actual pelvic clock that is designed to help you with this movement.
Remember to take deep breaths through the motions to activate your core muscle fibers fully, because this is a core-centric exercise.