Hello and happy new year to you all. After catching up on all the work which came in over the Christmas period, normality has now returned and I can get back to written some good articles for you all.
One piece of feedback that I heard a lot after the holidays, was how stiff we felt after two weeks of no Pilates. That gave me the idea for this article. I'm going to give you 5 Pilates exercises that you can in between classes*.
For the sake of these exercises we will use abdominal breathing, whilst focusing on making the moves last the duration of the breath.
1. Knees Side To Side
Ensuring that you are correctly aligned with a neutral pelvis and a neutral spine. Place your hands on your ribs to make sure there is no movement there throughout the move. Maintain the alignment through your legs as you let the legs go to the side (making sure the movement lasts the whole out breath), breathing in as your bring the legs back to their original position, then repeat to the other side. Note - If one side feels "tighter" you may want to perform 2 to the "tighter side". Avoid carrying out the move with your legs together or squeezing your knees.
2. Arms Side to Side
Now lets focus on the upper section of the spine. Again keeping the good alignment from the previous exercise. Take the arms straight above the chest, linking the fingers together and bringing the palms together (the palms should be in line with your chest bone). Pelvis remains still throughout. Keep the arms straight at all times and start to rotate to your ribs to one side, carrying your arms over (keeping palms in line with the chest bone). Again make the move last the whole out breath. Breathe in as you return and repeat on the out breath to the other side. You may want to consider two to the tighter side again.
3. Thoracic Mobility (Sometimes known as a Cat Stretch)
Changing to a 4-point position. Ensure knees under hips, hands under shoulders, correct alignment with pelvis & spine in neutral, be carefully to ensure you don't start with the mid back full flexed (rounded) and be careful of the neck position. On the out breath round your upper spine as far as you can, however be careful to tuck your pelvis and also ensuring you don't let your neck hang. Breathe in as your return to neutral and if you like you can add some extension in at the end.
4. Thread the needle
Remain in the 4-point position, This time start be taking one arm under the other (be careful you don't fully extend the arm). From there rotate your ribs to push the arm further underneath on the out breath. Breath in as you come back and repeat to the other side. You may want to consider doing two to the "tighter" side. Watch out that you are simply not just stretching the arm and make sure you rotate the mid back and don't go into a side bending motion.
5. Resting Position (Sometimes known as Child's Pose in Yoga)
From a 4 point position slowly sit back towards your heels. Be aware of performing this with any hip issues and don't sit back if any discomfort. From there length your arms out in front and then let your shoulder slide down your back. Maintain position for up to 10 good abdominal breaths in and out.
These exercise are quite nice and easy to do in between classes or just to get you going and moving.
If you need any help at all with them please don't hesitate to get in touch and I will help you out.
All the best
*It is always best to seek advice from your healthcare professional before carrying out these exercises to ensure they are suitable for you
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Pilates Instructor & Therapist, helping you understand why we do what we do!