Another week, another exercise. The Double Straight Leg Stretch comes in at number four in the Pilates Series of Five. Perform directly following the Single Leg Stretch, the Double Leg Stretch and the Single Straight Leg Stretch.
Exercise 4- Pilates Double Leg Stretch (5-10 reps)
1. Draw your bellybutton into your spine. Bring your hands behind your head, curling your head and shoulders up and off the mat. Elbows wide, head should be heavy in you hands so as to keep the strain out of your neck. Leg begin at 90 degrees (directly above hips), straight and squeezed together. Heels together, toes apart in Pilates position. This is your start position.
2. On an inhale, lower both legs. Only lower your legs as low as you can keep your tummy flat and your low back on the mat. If you begin to arch off the mat, you’ve gone too far.3. On an exhale, drawing your tummy in, return your legs to the start position. Repeat a total of 5 to 10 times.
Pilates Double Leg Stretch – Things to keep in mind
-Don’t allow your lower back to arch off of the mat. This is an indicator that your legs are too low and you are working less in your core (and are more at risk for straining your back). Raise your legs to a height where your low back is no longer arching.
-Eyes forward. (If you’re looking up at the ceiling, your neck is going to kill you. Either keep your eyes forward and your upper body curled all the way up, or put your head down.)
-Shoulders down, out of your ears. You should always have a neck.
-Head and chest remain lifted throughout the exercise.
-Keep your torso still and stable. Only your legs should be moving.
-Tummy pulled in nice and flat. Imagine zipping on those skinny jeans. You know the pair. Where you have to pull your tummy both in and up. Now do that throughout the exercise. We want to work on building your abdominal muscles in, not out.
Pilates Double Leg Stretch – Modifications
– Decrease your range. You can still get a great abdominal workout just by lowering your legs a couple of inches.
-If your neck starts to bother you, place your head down on the mat. As you grow stronger, you will transfer that work into you abdominals, as opposed to placing the strain in your neck.
-Reduce the number of repetitions and don’t be afraid to take breaks. Proper form is more important than risking the integrity of your body.
-Increase your range of motion. As long as you are not arching in your low back, your legs can go as low as just above the mat.
-Increase the number of reps.
Photos by Michele LoBosco