Happy Friday! Today we will add the last 3 of the “series of 5.” The single straight leg stretch, the double straight leg stretch and the criss cross. These 3 exercises are not part of Joseph Pilates original mat repertoire but are great core strengtheners. Your ultimate goal is to perform the “series of 5” without rest in between.
Single Straight Leg Stretch
1. Lie on your back with your knees into your chest and your head and shoulder blades curled off the mat
2. Extend both your legs up to the ceiling and walk both your hands up your right leg towards your ankle
3. Left leg lowers down a few inches away from the mat
4. While keeping a strong stabile center scissor kick and switch legs
5. As the legs are moving focus on keeping the tailbone and shoulder blades anchored into the mat. Repeat 6-10x
Double Straight Leg Stretch
1. After you have completed the single straight leg stretch, interlace your hands and place them behind the base of your skull, legs lengthen long and squeeze together as straight as you can up to the ceiling
2. Inhale, stretch your legs away from your body as you actively pull your rib cage and abs into the mat
3. Exhale, deepen the abs and pull your legs back up to your starting position. Repeat 6-10x
1. After completing the double straight leg stretch, keep your hands interlaced behind your head, bend your right knee into your chest and lengthen your left leg a few inches away from the mat
2. Inhale, twist your torso to the right, bringing your left armpit towards the right knee
3. Exhale as you maintain control and twist to the left bringing the left knee into your chest
4. As you alternate side to side try to curl up deeper into the work each time
5. Focus on the rotation of the spine as you are twisting. Repeat 6x each side
Single Leg Circles
Single leg circles are a great example of the idea of “full body” movement. By the end of this exercise you should feel like every muscle in your body was worked! For those of you who have a lot of range of motion in your hips you might need to focus more on stabilization and anchoring your hips into the mat. On the other hand, those of us with tight hips should allow your body the freedom of movement and allowing your hips to move as long as you are maintaining your core connection!
1. Lie on you back with your legs full extended and engaged. Arms actively pressing into the mat by your side.
2. Bring your right leg up to the ceiling as straight as you can while pulling your abs and ribcage into the mat
3. Take your leg across the body toward your left leg, down toward the left ankle, around and back to your starting position (drawing a circle in the air)
4. Maintain control from your core, arms and leg that is anchored into the mat as you circle. Repeat 5x on each side
You can also visit http://marchmatness.com/category/video/ to view a video clip of the single leg circles.
The Roll Up
1. Lie on your back with legs fully extended, feet flexed, arms lengthening towards the wall behind you
2. Inhale as you bring your arms to the ceiling and pull your ribcage and abs into the mat
3. Bring the weight of your head forward and begin to peel your spine away from the mat exhaling as you roll all the way up
4. Take a deep inhale, exhale as you start to roll back onto your mat
5. Repeat 3-5x
If the full roll up is too challenging for you at this time, try the Roll Back. This is a great to tool to help you connect with your deep abs, work flexion and your articulation.
1. Sit on the mat with your knees bent about 2 feet away from your seat
2. Hands behind your thighs, elbows wide
3. Squeeze your thighs together as you curl your tailbone under bringing your lower back into the mat
4. Use the work that you feel in your abs to bring yourself back up to seated
***remember that every movement is full body!
“Left foot, left foot, left foot, right. Feet in the morning, feet at night.” Recognize this famous children’s book? I was reading Dr. Seuss’s Foot Book to my son the other night before bed. It reminded me of how important our feet are to movement and how often we neglect them and their supportive musculature. Our foot is designed to be and is the foundation to all human movement.
Our feet are also extremely important for balance. Your foot is the first part of your body that contacts the ground in walking, running, skipping, jumping etc. and absorbs all the shock from the impact of the body. Shouldn’t this part of your body and supporting musculature be in top shape? Also, in functional training, a strong stable foot is again the foundation for all movement. Think about a squat, lunge, balance lunge and dead lift to name a few. If your base of support, your foot, is unstable due to tightness or weakness, that affects the entire body and throws off your alignment. Looking at our footwork in Pilates, whether it is performed on the reformer, chair or standing, if your feet are weak and lack the proper support, then your lower extremities are likely to be out of alignment. So what can we do for our feet? Other than the periodic pedicure, our feet need and deserve some TLC.
For starters, go barefoot as often as you can. Your feet have many nerve endings and trigger points that give you feedback about your environment. When your feet are supported by a shoe they rely more on that support as opposed to the foots own structural support. When you do wear shoes try to find a supportive shoe that’s comfortable and try to limit the amount of time your feet spend in high heels and flip flops. Another key ingredient to happy feet is stretching and rolling the supporting musculature. I know I’m guilty of spending a lot of time stretching and rolling my hamstrings, quads and glutes and only save the last few minutes for a quick calve stretch. Thinking about what I just mentioned shouldn’t your lower extremities be where you should spend a little more time? Take the time to properly roll out and stretch the muscles on both the anterior and posterior sides of your lower leg. Even roll the bottom of your foot. Trust me your feet will thank you!
What you put into your body post workout is just as important as the workout itself. Post exercise nutrients restore energy, repair and protect muscles. The body’s optimal time for refueling is termed the “metabolic window” and falls between 30-45 minutes after exercise. During this time your muscles are in their greatest state for nutrient absorption and in the greatest need of replenishment. Refueling properly will help to ensure that you have energy for the next workout, and recover quicker from exercise. Your body needs fuel to repair and restore the energy from the workout. Protein is needed to repair muscles and carbohydrates are needed to restore glycogen (energy stored in the muscle). So what’s a healthy and optimal balance?
Research suggests that a 4:1 or 3:1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein is ideal (www.ideafit.com).
Banana or apple with a table spoon of almond butter (or your favorite nut spread)
Whole grain bread with a slice of turkey or water packed tuna and hummus
Low fat chocolate milk 🙂
Remember…………..You can’t out train a bad diet!
We all have hectic schedulesand trying to find the time to exercise can be a challenge. Janet Phillips of Canton, Michigan does not let her work and travel schedule interfere with taking care of herself. Janet has been a loyal client of Core Sport Pilates Fitness Studio for over 2 years. She was interested in Pilates and found us on the web. When asked what her core values are when it come to exercise, Janet believes in taking responsibility for her own health. She believes exercise, diet and a positive attitude are the key. Janet loves the variety that Core Sport offers. She feels that the variety of functional training, TRX classes and Pilates are the most effective. She is always learning something new and has not become bored with her exercise program! Janet’s consistency in her workouts have helped her core strength, flexibility and balance. And of course she would not have meet her goals without the help of our knowledgeable and professional trainers!
New mom Alix Muhlbach of Northville, Michigan has been training at Core Sport Pilates Fitness Studio for 2 years. She began exercising to get in shape and lose weight. Once Alix found out she was expecting her first child, her focused changed to staying healthy and active throughout her pregnancy. After being diagnosed with gestational diabetes, Alix believes that her workouts at Core Sport helped her maintain a healthy pregnancy weight and to stay strong and healthy throughout her pregnancy. Alix continued to exercise at Core Sport until a week before she gave birth to her daughter! She feels that Core Sport’s signature 1/2 functional training and 1/2 Pilates are the most effective. Staying healthy is what keeps Alix motivated. She also wants to be an example for her daughter!
Think about all the ways your body moves on a daily basis: bending to pick up grocery bags, squatting and twisting to get into and out of your car, picking up a child, going for a walk or a run, standing up or sitting down at your desk, or playing a game of pick up at the gym. Individuals perform a variety of these types of activities throughout the day. Functional training is focused on more than just increasing your muscular strength but also the relationship between the nervous and muscular systems.
Traditional strength training machines tend to isolated muscles in a controlled and stable environment and do not mimic natural movement. For example, a squat is a more “functional” movement than your traditional knee extension machine. Perfecting your squat is going to strengthen and simplify the tasks mentioned above much easier and pain free! Simply stated, functional training improves the performance of one’s activities of daily living. It’s fitness for function.