Pilates Exercise of the Month: Double Straight Leg Stretch
Purpose: The fourth exercise in the Stomach Series targets the powerhouse to the extreme.
- Lie on your back with hands behind your lifted head; one on top of the other, (not interlaced); elbows wide.
- Extend your legs straight to the ceiling, heels together and toes turned out slightly, squeeze inner thighs, sink navel toward spine.
- Inhale and lower your straight legs down toward the mat for 3 counts. Stop if you feel your lower back begin to arch.
- Exhale as you raise your straight legs toward the ceiling. Don’t allow the legs to pass 90 degrees; the tailbone does not leave the mat.
Complete 8-10 times. To end bring both knees into chest.
- Remain perfectly still in your torso.
- Engage the glutes and inner thighs to support and protect your back.
- If your back arches off the mat as you lower your legs, you are taking them too low. Bring shoulders away from ears.
Note: If you have a delicate back, place your hands in a V position just below your tailbone (palms down) and leave your head down.
Visualization: Imagine your legs are attached to springs above your head. You must stretch the springs on the way down and resist their pull on the way up.