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Strengthen Your Back with Pilates Dart


Updated June 20, 2014

Teenage girl doing gymnastics
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Dart is a back strengthening exercise. It one of the moves frequently recommended for people with back pain because it strengthens all of the back extension muscles - upper and lower back.

Support this exercise with lifted abs and a stable pelvis. It will train you to protect your lower back and support a long spine.

Once you get strength and stability from dart you can build on it to do more Pilates back extension exercises like swimming, swan, and double leg kick.

Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: 1 min.

Here's How:

  1. Lie on your stomach with your legs together. Arms along your sides.

  2. Lift your abdominal muscles away from the mat.

  3. Exhale:

    Keep your abdominal muscles pulled in.

    Extend energy through your spine and out the top of your head to lift your upper body slightly off the mat.

    Anchor your pubic bone to the mat to protect your lower back. Your legs and glutes are engaged as part of the stability of the lower body, but don't over-squeeze them.

    Your head is an extension of your spine. Your gaze will be down.

    Your shoulder blades will slide down your back as your arms reach behind you like they are being blown back.
  4. Hold for an inhale.

    If you feel stable and have no pain, open your chest and lift your gaze a little more to get that wonderful "flight feeling".
  5. Exhale to lengthen and lower your body to the floor.
  6. Repeat 3 times.


  1. Be sure not to make a crease at your neck if you lift your gaze.
  2. Don't crunch your low back. You might also think of sending your tailbone down toward the floor to keep the lower spine long.
  3. If you are recovering from back pain and not having your hands under you for support is still uncomfortable, you might try a similar exercise, swan prep.
  4. If dart felt great, move on to Pilates swimming.

What You Need

  • A firm, padded surface
Related Video
No-Crunch Core and Ab Strengthening

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