Wanna feel more balanced, have fewer aches and pains and stand taller? Here, Aaron Smith, founder of KX Pilates shares the stretches you’ll need to add to your repertoire.
1. Laughing Baby Stretch
Imagine a baby, laying on its back, holding its feet and laughing whilst it rocks from side to side. This stretch is amazing for helping to stretch the lower back, glutes and hamstrings. Try laying on your back, hold the outer edge of your feet with your hands and bend your knees towards your armpits positioning your elbows inside your knees. Then hold your feet wide apart from each other and lengthen your lower back along the floor. To advance the stretch and target the hamstrings more, you can gently straighten your legs too.
2. Lunge Stretch
The lunge stretch targets your hip flexors (psoas major) and medial quadriceps. Tight hips and quadriceps can contribute to aching backs and slouched postures as they pull your pelvis into a forward, anterior tilt. Lengthening them will help the pelvis sit in a more neutral position reducing tension in the lower back and enabling you to stand taller and prouder.
Getting down on one knee (as if you were going to propose to your partner!) lean your body weight forward into your front leg, keeping your torso upright and knee at a 90-degree angle over the ankle (move your foot forward if the knee goes past the toes). At this point, you should be feeling a stretch through the front and top of the back leg and to make it a bit juicier, reach your arms above your head and slightly arch your torso back and take long inhalations and exhalations.
3. Cobra Stretch
The cobra stretch lengthens the front of the body and strengthens the many long stabiliser muscles of the spine. This will improve spinal mobility and also help us stand taller and prouder with fewer aches and pains in the back and shoulders.
Lay on your stomach on the floor, legs out straight, front of the feet flat the floor (plantar flexion), forehead to the floor hands on the floor under the chest and elbows pinned up to the ribs. Inhale, press the lower body and front of the pelvis to the floor and push the upper body up from the floor, making a gentle backbend and letting the head tilt so that you can see the ceiling. Keep the arms active as they hold you up and keeping pressing the lower body to the floor. Exhale, then gently release to the floor and repeat again.
To maximise your stretching routine, think about adopting general good habits which will help change your life and feeling of well-being, include setting your office chair to a height where your feet touch the floor but your knees are not higher than your hips, pelvic floor contractions when driving or brushing your teeth and/or using your legs whilst bracing your abdominals to lift heavy objects and smiling with your collar bones.
KX Pilates was founded by Aaron Smith in 2010 and is Australia’s first dynamic reformer pilates franchise with over 50 locations across Australia and one location in Jakarta, Indonesia. You can find out more about their story and classes here.