Toddlers can tumble and somersault with ease, and young children can do all sorts of contortions on monkey bars. But as we grow older, we get accustomed to moving in specific ways. We have a more limited range of motion, so our muscles don’t get stretched to their full length and become less elastic. Pilates can help regain some flexibility by loosening up and lengthening your muscles. Here are easy Pilates stretches to help you get started.
Wall roll down
This exercise stretches your back and your hamstrings. It helps you stand with better posture.
- Stand with your back against the wall and your heels several inches away from it.
- Slowly dip your head forward, followed by your shoulders and your arms. Then, tighten your abdominals and peel your spine from the wall, vertebra by vertebra. Never lift your hips from the wall while doing this.
- Stay bent and feel your hamstring stretch.
- Roll back up as if your navel is being pulled from behind. Start resting your back on the wall, beginning from the lowest vertebra going up. Your arms should have no tension during the roll up.
- Repeat 3–5 times.
Mermaid side stretch
This stretch elongates the sides of the body and helps you breathe better.
- Sit on the mat with legs folded to the left side. The heel of your right foot should be on top of your left knee. Your back should be straight, your abdominals engaged.
- Bend your middle to the right. Your abdomen should support your weight, but your right arm should also extend to the side to help you balance.
- Raise your left arm and extend it over your head. Reach toward your left shoulder as far as you can. Open up your side and feel the stretch.
- Extend the stretch by letting your supporting (right) arm fold, forming a 90-degree angle with the floor.
- Return to the position you were in step 2 by slowly bringing the extended arm back to the left side and letting the shoulder fall. As you do this, your supporting hand should also return to an extended position.
- Repeat 2–3 times then switch to the other side.
Related article: 5 Essential Pilates exercises for beginners
Our daily routine is usually filled with forward extensions, like leaning forward to type on our computer keyboards or craning our necks to look at our mobile devices. Swan is the perfect back extension exercise to counter this and ensure that our shoulders don’t get hunched.
- Lie face down on the mat. On either side, put your palms at chest level. Your arms should be parallel to your back, and your elbows pulled toward your waist (not pointing away from your body). Your legs should be together, but you can modify this pose by keeping your legs shoulder-width apart.
- Lift your upper body from the mat, keeping your abdominals engaged. Lift your head and try to look at the ceiling. Do not lift your hips from the mat.
- Feel the spine stretch for several seconds.
- Slowly release the arch. Lower and press yourself on the mat, starting with your belly, then your ribs, chest, chin, and finally, your forehead.
- Repeat 3–5 times.
Your body is capable of so much more. Rediscover what your muscles can do by trying Pilates. Our C2 Body studios in Boston and Dedham offer Pilates classes every day. Schedule a session with us now.