Pilates Exercise of the Month: Double Straight Leg Stretch
Purpose: The fourth exercise in the Stomach Series targets the powerhouse to the extreme.
1. Lie on your back with hands behind your lifted head; one on top of the other, (not interlaced). Elbows wide.
2. Extend your legs straight to the ceiling, heels together and toes turned out slightly, squeeze inner thighs, sink navel toward spine.
3. Inhale and lower your straight legs down toward the mat for 3 counts. Stop if you feel your lower back begin to arch.
4. 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.