What Is the Clam in Pilates? Tips, Technique, Correct Form, Benefits and Common Mistakes

The clam, also known as clamshell or oyster, is a basic movement that provides a foundation for advanced Pilates exercises. It aims to strengthen the hip abductor muscles, specifically the posterior fibers of the glute medius muscles.

The clam is a beginner-level mat exercise that targets your hips, thighs, and gluteal muscles. Individuals with hip pathologies and lower back pain often practice it. Once you understand its basics, you will find this exercise to be an effective addition to your lower-body workouts.


How to do the clam in Pilates? Correct shape and technique

To perform this exercise, you will require a Pilates mat or a padded, firm surface.

  • Start by lying on your side with your shoulders and hips in a straight line.
  • Bend your knees and allow your thighs to be at a 90-degree angle. Keep your arm stretched out or bent, whichever position is comfortable. Rest your head on your arm.
  • Keep your neck long and straight so that your head is not bent forward or back.
  • Now bend your top arm slightly and place your hand on the mat just in front of your chest for balance.
  • Place your hips on top of each other vertically and keep your shoulders the same way.
  • Engage your abdominal muscles to keep the same alignment throughout the workout.
  • Breathe easily. On an inhale, bring your big toes together and slowly rotate your leg in your hip socket to open your top knee. Make sure to open your knee as far as you can go without moving the alignment of your body.
  • As you exhale, bring your knee to the starting position.
  • Repeat the exercise 6 times, and then switch sides.

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You can also start the clam by adding a breathing pattern. To do this, just follow your breath and then open your knees as you exhale, and as you inhale, close them again. Make sure to keep your breathing slow and controlled.

Some important beginner tips

Consider using these tips when practicing the clam in Pilates.

  • If you are finding it difficult to engage your glutes, then you may simply push your heels while you raise your knee.
  • If you are feeling your legs going too down or above your hip, adjust your position by straightening or bending your knees.
  • Always remember to stretch your hip muscles after performing the clam to keep maintain their flexibility and reduce discomfort or pain.

Benefits of the clam in Pilates

The clam helps stabilize your pelvis and also maintains pelvic stability while partaking in activities such as walking, jumping, and running, as it helps the hip rotate inward and outward.

This exercise provides support to your lower legs and knees, and helps tone your thighs and hip muscles. The clam in Pilates is often recommended in rehabilitation for issues such as lower back pain, knee injuries, and hip problems.

Common mistakes to avoid

To make the most out of the clam in Pilates, avoid these mistakes.

Performing the exercise at too much speed:

As with any exercise, you should perform each and every move of the clam slowly. Go with a slow speed and perform every move correctly.

Not keeping your neck stable:

When performing this Pilates exercise, your neck should always be in a neutral position. Don’t move your neck up or down or sideways – keep it straight so that you don’t strain it.

Bending your hips:

Do not bend or roll your hips backwards or forwards when separating your legs.

Exercise caution while doing the clam

The clam in Pilates is a safe and effective exercise for all fitness levels. However, if you have any type of hip problem, have had recent knee or hip injuries, or have had surgery, then it is best to consult a doctor before starting this exercise.

You should not feel any discomfort or pain while doing this exercise, but if you do, stop immediately and do not continue. If the pain persists or worsens, seek immediate medical attention.


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