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Pilates Standing Roll Downs

For those who come to my classes, you will know that I pretty much start all my classes with the Roll Down, this allows you to switch off from whatever is going on your life, focus on your breathing and get you ready for the class ahead. 

The Roll Down is a Pilates warm-up exercise that relieves back tension and stretches your legs. The rolling motion strengthens the abdominal muscles and helps improve the blood circulation throughout the body. This is a great move that increases mobility in the back, spine, neck and hamstrings. In addition to releasing tension and stress, the Standing Roll Down also creates space between the vertebrae and improves posture.

In class as I am walking around and correcting I know it it is hard to understand the difference so I would suggest that you get someone or record yourself from the side to see how you look. 

I am going to show you two pictures side by side to try and illustrate what you should and shouldn't be doing.

 Start Position


  • Feet should be hip distance apart, toes forward.
  • Lengthen out the legs, hips pointing forward.
  • Switch on your core (pubic bone to navel, navel to spine).
  • Should back and down.
  • Imagine a piece of string coming out the crown of your head lengthening out the spine and neck, and the then just slightly bring your chin back. 

  Quinn Pilates Standing Rolldown Roll Down  Quinn Pilates Standing Roll Down Start Position Wrong

What you are aiming for in your standing position is that if we attached a plumb line from your ear it should hang straight down in alignment with your

shoulder, hip, and the heel of the foot.

The benefit of recording yourself allows you to see how you actually look, as opposed to how you think you look.

* A little tip, if using your phone to record yourself. Place your phone in the end of your trainer it holds it brilliantly!

Step 1

Inhale and lengthen your spine, switch on the core and keep your stomach muscles switched on throughout the exercise.

Exhale, tuck your chin (lengthening the back of the neck, let the shoulders drop forward as your start bending the upper back.

   Quinn Pilates Standing Rolldown Roll Down Chin Tuck       Quinn Pilates Standing Roll Down Tuck

Again the picture on the left, there is a lovely rounding of the upper back, shoulders are relaxed and the tension is releasing.

Allow the arms to dangle.

Step 2

As you work your way down towards the floor you need to keep a softness in the knees.

Rolling your entire spine forward and down, one vertebra at a time.

Quinn Pilates Standing Roll Down Half                  Quinn Pilates Standing Roll Down Halfway


Both pictures are showing a lovely rounding of the back, they both just need to let the arms relax and dangle a bit more.


Step 3

Once you've rolled down as far as is comfortable for you, keeping the core switched on and everything in alignment you will then reverse the process.

Exhale and being slowly and controlled reverse the movement and roll back up one vertebra at a time.


Quinn Pilates Standing Roll Down Bottom Position               Quinn Pilates Rolldown Standing Bottom Position


As you can see in the picture on the left the hip and heel are in alignment. This is what it should look like. If you have tight hamstrings this will be more difficult but this move will improve by doing this move.


A Big Thank you to my wonderful clients/models for doing the above pictures. 

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