Penelope's Pilates 101: Widen through your collarbones

Penelope here! Thanks for joining me for another crash course in Pilates lingo. Here’s one I hear all the time: “widen through your collarbones.” What the pup does that mean?!

Well, I asked my mom and her friends and now I’ve got the 411.

Partly because of all the work you humans do on computers and partly due to inactive abdominal and back muscles, many people tend to “slouch” in their upper back, causing their head to jut forward and their upper back to round. To correct this posture, Pilates teachers often cue to slide your shoulder blades down and open your chest, but a particularly useful cue (if you know what it means) is to “widen through your collarbones.”

First of all, your collarbones (or clavicles) are those two bones just below your neck that run horizontally. Though it may not seem like it, they’re actually a very important part of your shoulder joint.

If you think about widening those bones, or even imagine that they separate from one another and reach towards either side of the room, you’ll naturally lift your sternum slightly and roll your shoulders down and back. The physical position of your collarbones may not actually move much (thankfully they’re not a very mobile joint — that keeps our shoulders stable), but the imagery should help you engage the proper muscles.

So next time you hear this cue in class, close your eyes (unless you’re balancing on top of the reformer!), draw your belly in, and think of those two bones sliding apart. You should feel your upper body lift slightly so you’re standing proud.

If you have any questions, feel free to let us know. We want you to get the most you possibly can out of your time in the studio!

Until next time,

Author: Ali Weeks

Ali Weeks