The C-Curve is the shape that we make with the spine in a lot of Pilates exercises. It is used to engage the abdominal muscles (particularly focussing on the deeper Transverse Abdominis) whilst creating length in the spine. Please do not perform this is you have issues with flexion of the spine such as Osteoporosis or Osteopenia and if in any doubt consult your GP.
The spine is made up of 3 main sections; cervical at the neck, thoracic at the rib cage and lumbar at the lower back. There are a variety of c-curve uses in Pilates with some focusing on one or two areas, and others using all 3 to create a full C shape. For example Ab Prep 2 uses only the cervical C-Curve (click here to watch a tutorial on Ab Prep 2), whereas rolling like a ball uses all 3 areas in this curve to create the ball shape.
Really engage the deep abdominal muscle (TvA) whenever performing the exercise. This is not the ‘six-pack’ muscle but lies beneath it. If you place your hands just above your pelvis and fake a cough you will feel it activate. Other ways are to think of putting on a tight pair of trousers that you really need to squeeze into at the waist, or think of drawing the belly button towards the spine.
It is important to remember that every body is different. Some may have more tightness in the cervical spine, whereas the majority, such as myself may have more in the lumbar region; this area is the most weight bearing in the spine and so the vertebrae are much thicker. Getting to know your own body will help you focus on your problem areas and therefore gain the most benefit from the exercises.
Have a watch of the video for more information and I welcome any comments.