The A-Z of Pilates - J is for Joint Mobility

Pilates exercise is an excellent way to improve overall joint mobility and flexibility. Keeping our joints mobile is particularly as we get older, when we naturally start to lose joint mobility as well as muscle tone. This can lead to poor balance and an increased risk of falls, so Pilates is certainly a fantastic way to help slow down this process!


Taking part in Pilates regularly is especially good for our joints because it helps to maintain, or even improve, our range of movement and helps to reverse the effects of daily repetitive activities. For example, if I was sitting all day at a desk, my hips would be extremely likely to lose their natural range and mobility, and all the surrounding muscles would become weakened and less efficient over time. Also, the hip movements that we use daily are very two dimensional if you think about it, for example, walking or running, and movements such as outward or inward rotation, or full rotation of the hip joint are not so regularly used.


An exercise such as the Pilates Oyster / Clam (one of my favourites), is just one of the repertoire of Pilates exercises that is a great one to practice for hip mobility and strength. It is specifically designed for this purpose and you will be working your deep gluteal muscles, which also have a very important part to play in stabilising your pelvis and keeping your spine upright in the correct alignment.


How to do the Oyster:


Illustration: Everyday Health 

Lie in a straight line on your side with the underneath arm stretched out above the head in line with the body. Place a cushion or head pad between the ear and the arm so that your neck is in line with your spine.


Bend the knees to 45 degrees keeping your feet underneath your bottom and gently squeeze the heels together. Lengthen the top hip away from your shoulder to lengthen your upper waist and under waist. Draw your lower abdominals back towards your spine so that your centre core connection is activated, and make sure that your hips and shoulders are absolutely stacked on top of each other.


Your top arm can be resting on your side as in the illustration, or just bend it and have your hand resting on the floor in front of you for support. You are looking straight ahead.




  • Inhale to prepare. On exhale slowly rotate the top leg outwards in the hip, so that your knee opens away towards the ceiling, activating the glute muscles and keeping your feet together on top of one another.
  • As you inhale again lower the knee down to its starting position.
  • Repeat 6 - 10 times on one leg and then repeat with your other leg.


Imagine drawing your 'sitting' bones together as you open the knee towards the ceiling and allow them to come apart again when you lower the knee to the starting postion.


Maintain your centre core engagement and ensure that your hips remain stacked without rocking backwards. Make sure you keep lengthening both sides of your waist so that it does not collapse, and keep the upper body and neck in alignment without falling forwards.


  • If you have had hip surgery it is absolutely essential to follow any guidance you have been given by your consultant and always move with control and within your pain-free range of motion.


  • Less is more….it is always much better to do a few repetitions of the exercise using the correct technique, rather than a lot of repetitions with incorrect technique and poor control. 


  • Always go at your own pace using your breath control to keep an even flow of movement.


  • Body awareness and management is very important, especially if you suffer with arthritis. You will need to take action if you have any pain or joint discomfort, which may mean that you should stop exercising altogether, or make any adjustments that have been recommended by your GP of health practitioner.


This entry was posted on January 24, 2018