The ‘Short Box Exercise Straight’ For a Strong Back

pilates reformer short box serie Rückenprobleme Bauchmuskeln stärken

Charleston Samu Rii Marquis CSRM

Did you ever wonder whether the straight back in a military drill or in one’s state of arrogance are the same as the one Pilates propagates? They seem to be the same but there is a crucial difference.

The ‘military back’ and the ‘Pilates back’, actually, have 2 diametrically opposed effects on our backs. The ‘military back’ tightens and weakens the muscles of our backs whereas the ‘Pilates back’ brings our backs ‘back to life’.

Revive my back with the Short Box exercise series

Especially useful in releasing the tenseness in the muscles of our backs are the exercises of the Pilates Short Box series. In the Short Box Exercise ‘Straight with Stick’ we invigorate our abdomen so that our back can relax. Our back relaxes while at the same time we strengthen our abdominal muscles. Isn’t this great? This way we eliminate a flabby and sagging belly, which is favoured by hanging in front of the TV, computer or playstation. Now, how do we do it?

With segmental vertebral movements to my strong abdomen and back

We strengthen our abdomen and back by moving our spine segmentally. We do this by organizing our deep muscles corset system – our powerhouse – in such a way that our chest and pelvis move away from each other without additionally moving our arms or legs.

For the Pilates freaks among us: We create our healthy belly and back by articulating our spine by way of an eccentric (lengthening) contraction of our deep muscle corset system – our powerhouse – in a closed kinetic chain concept.
And this is how we do it …

Starting position

pilates reformer short box series back problems strengthen abdominal muscles

Hold a stick between your hands and extend your arms upwards. Sit upright on the box, extend your upper body vertically out of your pelvis to counteract your horizontally extended legs, and the force of gravity.

The procedure

When inhaling activate the ABC principle

A – powerhouse
B – shoulder girdle to pelvis
C – 7th cervical spine

in order to lift and lengthen your upper body backward. Wait and listen. Exhale joyfully, and apply the ABC principle to return to your starting position. Repeat the exercise 7 times.

For your support. Watch the Short Box Exercise ‘Straight with Stick’ in the video below. Click now, learn and enjoy!

Coaching keys

Use our coaching keys to support yourself when doing the Short Box exercise. You could practice them with the video. I usually say them and visualise them …

  • I lead by grounding my pelvis unto the box and lifting my torso out of my pelvis.
  • I keep lengthening my legs while moving backward.
  • I avoid sinking into my chest and lower back.
  • I keep my powerhouse activated when moving in both directions.

What to sense in the Short Box exercise ‘Straight with Stick’?

I sense a grounding of my pelvis and chest

Work on sensing a coming together – convolution – of your inner thighs and glutes, and on feeling a bracing in the lower front part of your ribcage.

What is the purpose of the stick?

The stick for more grounding and better kinaesthetic awareness

pilates reformer short box series back problems strengthen abdominal muscles

The purpose of the stick in this Short Box exercise is manifold. The stick

  • provides for kinaesthetic awareness in order to facilitate vertical thrust.
  • grounds our shoulders to inhibit overwork in our upper trapezius.
  • ensures a deeper eccentric (lengthening) contraction of our abdominal wall and
  • serves as a counteraction to the downforce of gravity.

These functions are reinforced by the stability concept of the closed kinetic chain. This means that our limbs rest on a solid surface during movement, which provides stability by giving our body a sense of security.

Now it’s up to you!

I keep my belly alive and at the same time give my back a break because a dead belly leads to a lazy back and a lazy back leads to back problems. CSRM

Try it & fly with it, too!


Here you go to the Short Box with Round Back, which also noticeably contributes to the invigoration of our belly and relaxation of our back.

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