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What's So Great About Footwork?

Updated: Sep 15, 2023

If you've been to a Pilates class, chances are you've tried Footwork, a staple exercise often performed at the beginning of class. Footwork is a great way to warm up your legs for all that's to come in class, but it has many more benefits than that! Footwork can help to reveal muscle imbalances and postural patterns of the feet, legs, and hips and can help to correct them. It also builds strength in the legs, hips, ankles, and feet and increases flexibility in the lower limbs.

In optimal alignment during footwork:

  • The pelvis remains in neutral throughout the whole movement (we don’t tuck our pelvis under and push our low backs into the mat as we press out to straight legs)

  • The hip joints, knees, and ankles are stacked in parallel lines

  • The kneecaps are tracking up to the ceiling

  • The ankles are aligned over the feet without pronating (rolling in) or supinating (rolling out)

  • The weight is in the middle of the heel for heel work and between the first and second toes for work on the ball of the foot

Postural patterns like a posterior pelvic tilt or supination of the feet are easier to work on correcting in a closed-chain exercise like Footwork. When we work on our alignment during class, these patterns become easier to correct when we perform the functional activities of daily life.

Footwork is, as its name suggests, also wonderful work for our feet! Our feet are our base and should be given the attention that the rest of our body receives in a Pilates class. Neglecting our feet can lead to stiffness and inflexibility that can affect our gait. The different positions we do in Footwork help to stretch, massage, and work our feet to promote mobility and optimal function.

Next time you do Footwork in class, try a slightly lighter spring than you typically use and really focus on the intention behind this exercise: stretching and exercising your feet and working on optimal alignment of the lower body. Let us know if you notice a difference!

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