Ask the Expert: Achieving Optimal Positioning with the Arc Barrel

We are thrilled to have Takayuki Akatsuka— Merrithew® Instructor Trainer, addressing a common query on determining the ideal position of the Arc Barrel for supporting thoracic flexion.


“By understanding the key considerations and required posture adjustments, you can effectively reduce or even eliminate the tension on your neck because you can place the head and cervical spine more vertical to the floor,” Takayuki says.

“When using the Arc Barrel to support thoracic flexion, there are two crucial factors to consider to achieve optimal positioning and maximize the benefits. Firstly, it is essential to ensure that the sacrum is in contact with the floor to provide stability to the pelvis.

“Secondly, you should adjust your position so that the head and cervical spine can be more vertical to the floor eliminating the weight. This can eliminate the load for the cervical flexors and avoid the tension around the neck and shoulders,” Takayuki says.

Let’s break down these highlights for a better understanding.


Eliminate the neck tension and facilitate the thoracic flexion

To minimize strain on the neck, align the cervical spine (neck) with the thoracic spine (upper back) during the exercise. The Arc Barrel also helps you to maintain the thoracic flexion because you have to remain tactile to the surface. This is a great modification for those who need to work on the thoracic flexion and/or have difficulty keeping the flexion from the floor.

This alignment helps distribute the weight of the head more evenly, reducing the strain on the neck muscles and promoting a more comfortable and efficient movement.

Practical tips for positioning the Arc Barrel

Now that we understand the key considerations, let’s explore some practical tips to guide you further.

  1. Begin by positioning the Arc Barrel parallel to your mat or surface, ensuring its stable placement.
  2. Sit in front of the Arc Barrel and rest your upper thoracic/shoulders against the barrel
  3. Check the alignment of your cervical spine and thoracic spine. The head should be more vertical to the floor and in line with the upper back.

Pro tip: If the client feels the tension around the neck and shoulders, you can adjust the position, slide down, and place the head on the barrel using pillows to make it easier.

Arc Barrel is a very versatile and great piece to have. You can make the exercises accessible or more challenging.

“Always listen to your body and consult with a qualified Pilates instructor if you have any specific concerns or questions regarding your technique,” Takayuki says.

Stay tuned for more insightful tips and expert advice. Happy practicing, and remember to prioritize your body’s alignment and well-being in every movement!




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