How to Do Pelvic Clock in Pilates

Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes

Pilates Pelvic Clock

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Targets: Core awareness

Level: Beginner

The Pelvic Clock is a very subtle Pilates mat exercise. Imagine that there is a clock lying flat on your lower abdomen. Twelve o'clock is at your belly button, 6 o'clock is at the top of your pubic bone. Your hip bones are at 9 and 3. You engage your abdominals to move the pelvis only an inch or so in each direction. The goal is to do this movement smoothly with the abs and not the back. You isolate the movement of the pelvis so that the upper body stays still and relaxed and the hip sockets allow the pelvis to move without affecting the legs. Use this exercise to build awareness of positioning your abs, pelvis, and spine.

Benefits

The Pelvic Clock is about learning to slow down and bring the focus inside. Smaller movements like these provide the foundation for understanding how to position the pelvis and engage the abs effectively. This exercise will also help reveal muscular imbalances of the back and abdominals. Once you are familiar with movements around the pelvic clock, you can take directions from Pilates instructors who reference them as cues. In pregnancy, this exercise might be used to develop an awareness of your pelvis and prepare for labor and contractions. Imbalances in pelvic alignment can develop from sitting or standing for long periods with poor posture, carrying heavy items on one side, or back strain. This exercise allows you to become aware of such imbalances.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Your legs will be parallel: ankles, knees, and hips are in one line. Make sure that your feet are lined up—toes pointing directly away from you. You will be in the neutral spine position, allowing for a natural curve of the lumbar spine (lower back). Relax your neck and shoulders, bringing the shoulders away from the ears. Your chest is open and your ribs are dropped. Your head can be on a small pillow or your neck may be supported by a neck roll.

  1. Bring your hands together so that the fingertips of your index fingers are touching and your thumbs touch. Place them on your lower belly so that the tips of your fingers rest lightly on the top of your pubic bone, and your thumbs are near your navel. This will help you feel the movement of the pelvis. Take some time here to tune in with your body. Breathe deeply, allowing your breath to expand your ribs evenly and travel all the way to the lower abs.
  2. Inhale, exhale. Engage your abdominals so that they bring your belly button down to your spine, lengthening the spine along the floor in response. This will create a pelvic tilt where your clock is now no longer flat, but down at the 12 o'clock position (navel) and up at the 6 o'clock position (pubic bone).
  3. Inhale: Use your abs to rotate your clock down to the side so that the 3 o'clock hip is lower. ​​Continue on the inhale to move around the clock—tilting the pelvis until the 6 o'clock position is lowest. This will create a small arch in your low back.
  1. Exhale: Bring the movement around so that the 9 o'clock hip is down. Continue your exhale as you bring your navel (the 12 o'clock position) to the low point again
  2. Inhale: Repeat another cycle in the opposite direction, moving the 3 o'clock hip down.
  3. Repeat each direction two or three times and then reverse.

As you move around the clock you may notice that your back is tighter on one side or another, or that your abdominals engage more easily on the right or left. Just keep breathing and moving and trying to let the movement be smooth. This is an exercise where inner attention and the release of tension are what will make the biggest changes for you.

Common Mistakes

To get the most from this exercise, avoid these errors.

Arching Back

Don't over-arch your back in the 6 o'clock position.

Using Other Muscles

Focus on using the abdominals to initiate your movement. Other muscles will be involved, especially when you tilt the pelvis down at 6 o'clock, but the abs are primary movers.

Modifications and Variations

This exercise has ways to change it as you are learning it and once you wish to progress.

Need a Modification?

If the breathing pattern is confusing, do the exercise letting your breath flow naturally.

If you cannot do this exercise while lying flat, you can do it while standing.

Up for a Challenge?

Pelvic curl is a related exercise that will take the pelvic tilt further.

Safety and Precautions

This exercise is appropriate for most people unless you have difficulty lying flat. It is good for early pregnancy, but you may not be comfortable laying on your back in later pregnancy.

Try It Out

Incorporate this move and similar ones into one of these popular workouts:

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