Day: September 27, 2011

Pilates Exercise of the Month: Swimming


Purpose: This advanced exercise lengthens the stomach muscles while strengthening the back muscles.

  1. Lie on your stomach, arms extend overhead, palms down. Squeeze the backs of legs together, slightly turn feet outward.
  2. Inhale, pulling navel up into your spine, lift your head; then your right arm and left leg off the mat. Switch arms and legs by lifting your left arm and right leg. Without shifting your body weight; flutter the arms and legs in a swimming motion.
  3. Inhale for 5 counts and exhale for 5 counts. Feel that you are stretching in opposition, fingers and toes reaching for opposite ends of the room; keep arms and legs as straight as possible without letting them touch the mat.
  4. Complete 3-5 sets of 5 inhalations/exhalations each. To end and stretch your lower back, sit back on your heels in child’s pose.
  5. As you improve, speed up swimming action of arms and legs; 2 movements per count. This challenges coordination or torso stability.

Checklist:
Hold your gaze high without crunching the back of the neck.
Work arms directly in front of you and in line with your shoulders.
The legs should flutter close to each other and in line with your torso.
Swim briskly; avoid rocking from side to side.

Note: A shoulder injury may be aggravated by this exercise. Reduce range of motion of the arms. Any lower back issues, approach exercise carefully.

Visualization: Move rapidly and keep your head up as though you were actually in water. Envision your legs working as if using a kickboard in a swimming pool.