Understanding Pilates terms can help facilitate faster results and a more enjoyable Pilates experience. Here are some of the most commonly used Pilates terms and their definitions:
Pilates Glossary: Defining Terms, Stances, and Positions
Abduction: Movement away from the center of your body, for example, bringing your arms out to a 'T' position.
Adduction: Movement toward the center of your body, for example, bringing your arms down to your sides from a 'T' position.
Anterior: Movement or body part near or toward the front of the body.
Cervical Spine: Vertebrae in the neck, above the thoracic spine. There are seven vertebrae in this area (C1 to C7).
Coccyx: Your tailbone. It is the lowest segment of the vertebral column.
Core Strength: Muscles of the trunk that help to stabilize the spine. Though most people think of the abdominal muscles, core strength also refers to the muscles of the back and the pelvic floor. Core strength is developed through balance and the coordinated use of these muscles. Core strength allows us to move in a functional and safe manner.
Dorsiflexion: The motion of pulling the toes back toward the shins, flexing the entire foot at the ankle.
Extension: Straightening movement that increases the angle between two points. Straightening your arm is an example of extension. Extension is the opposite of flexion.
Flexion Bending movement that decreases the angle between two points. Bending your elbow, or pulling your knee toward your chest are examples of flexion. Flexion is the opposite of extension.
Hyperextended: A joint or limb being extended beyond its normal limits.
Lateral: Movement or body part near or toward the side of the body.
Lumbar Spine: Lower back region below the thoracic spine and above the sacrum comprising five vertebrae (L1 to L5). When it is in the neutral position, there will be a slight curve known as lordosis.
Midline: The imaginary line going down the middle of the body, from the top of the head down to the feet.
Pilates Stance: Similar to the first position in ballet; the heels are together and the toes are apart.
Plantar Flexion: Pointing the foot so that the toes are moving away from the shins.
Posterior: Movement or body part near or toward the back of the body.
Powerhouse: The term Joseph Pilates used to describe the musculature of the center of your body: the abdominals, pelvic floor, the muscles surrounding the hip joint and back extensors. The 'powerhouse' is the physical and energetic center of the body and the focus of all Pilates exercises.
Sacrum: Triangular bone just below the lumbar spine and above the coccyx (tailbone). It forms the base of the spine and the center of the pelvis.
Table Top: Position where the legs make a 90-degree angle while lying supine. The knees should be directly over the hips, and the feet should be directly in line with the knees.
Thoracic Spine: The upper and mid-back. It has twelve vertebrae (T1 to T12).
Unilateral Movement: A movement that is done by one side of the body, for example, Single Legwork on the Reformer.