Hip Rolls and Modifications

Hip rolls are part of the Stott Pilates Matwork warm up, however I’ve ben known to bring this exercise in mid way in class. There are a few ways you can modify this exercise to make it more challenging. The purpose if to provide articulation through the spine while using your abs and glutes to support your spine during the movement.

Starting Position:

Lay on your back, knees bent and feet on the floor hip distance apart. Lumbar spine should be in neutral, this means that you should have space between your lumbar spine and the floor without lifting your ribs off the floor. In this position you should engage your transverse abdominis. You do this by lifting pelvic floor to find TA, your deepest layer of abs that provides stability and support to your pelvis and lumbar spine. For more info on TA check out our April 6 2013 post on the Stott Pilates 5 Basic Principles.


Inhale: feel length through the spine and engage TA

Exhale: use obliques to pull pelvis into imprint and continue to roll through imprint to bring the hips off the floor, until you are resting across your shoulder blades and hips are pushing up to the ceiling. You should not be putting pressure on our neck.

Inhale: feel your quads reach through the knees providing length through the spine and glutes actively holding you up.

Exhale: slowly and controlled roll your spine back down to the floor one vertebrae at a time finishing with your tail bone heavy returning to neutral.


To assist through articulation of the spine, you can start with feet on an Arc Barrel.

Hold at top range and pulse up and down.

To add more challenge you have a few options:

  1. 1. put feet on an unstable prop such as, foam roller, any size stability ball, toning balls, stability cushion etc. By putting the feet on an unstable surface your stabilizing muscles have to work a bit harder to control the movement up an down.
  2. put a prop in between the thighs. This prop can be hard or soft like a yoga block or stability ball. Either way the result is an activation of the inner thigh, brining more muscle groups into the exercise.
  3. flex band or rubber band around the outside of the thigh. This activates your abductors (outer thigh) and even helps get deeper into your glutes.
  4. move your feet further away from your buttocks, bring your heels together and let your knees and feet turn out into lateral rotation. Your goal with this position is to just lift the bum to a low hover off the the mat. This will engage the glutes even deeper. You can intensify this one even more by holding up and tilting the pelvis from imprint to neutral using the glutes to make this happen. Then hold and add a knee pulse to the side. We do this one in one of our Barre classes and you glutes will be signing afterwords!!