Day: March 9, 2011

Pilates Exercise of the Month: Single Straight Leg Stretch or Scissors

Purpose: The third exercise in the Stomach Series is also known as Scissors. It provides additional stretch in the back of legs while working the abdominals. This exercise requires you to move quickly and with control.

  1. Lie on your back and hug both knees into your chest, head and shoulders curled off the
    mat, elbows lifted.
  2. Extend your right leg straight up to the ceiling and grab your ankle with both hands. Stretch
    the left leg long in front of you so it hovers slightly above the mat.
  3. Inhale, keeping the right leg straight and use your hands to lightly pulse the leg twice. Sink
    the navel deeper into the mat beneath you as the leg nears the body.
  4. Exhale and quickly switch the straight legs by “scissoring” them past each other. Grab the
    ankle of your left leg and repeat the motion, inhaling for one set and exhaling for one set.

Complete 8-10 sets; alternating legs. To end, bring both legs together at a 90 degrees.

Goal: Remain perfectly still in your torso as you stretch and scissor your legs. Keep eyes focused on belly, making sure it’s scooped. Avoid hunching your shoulders.

Note: If you can’t hold your ankle, simply adjust your hand placement; try your calf first or move your hands to the back of your thigh. Don’t hold behind your knee. If you develop neck pain while holding your head up, rest it on the mat.

Visualization: As you begin switching legs, imagine pulsing your legs in rhythm with your heartbeat.