As the second exercise in the Stomach Series, the Pilates Double Leg Stretch continues to challenge your coordination, work the powerhouse and stretch your body. This exercise challenges coordination of breathing patterns and challenges the abdominal muscles isometrically. In addition, it creates mobility of the shoulders and hips.
The exercise depends on the abdominal endurance in order to maintain the thoracic spine inflexion as you take your arms as well as your legs away from the centre of the body. As this is a challenging exercise, ensure you only attempt it if you have suitably developed strength in addition to body awareness so that you can practise this exercise in a safe manner. If you suffer from osteoporosis, thoracic disc pathologies or, alternatively, if you’re pregnant this exercise will not be suitable for you. If this exercise is appropriate for you, ask your Pilates instructor to teach it to you so that you can add it into your home exercise programme and strengthen your core powerhouse.
- Lie supine on the mat with your legs adducted in a 90-degree, table-top position. Rest your hands on either side of your knees as you lift your head off the floor and not higher than your breast bone.
- Inhale to prepare.
- Exhale and contract your abdominals. Extend both legs outwards and keep them above the mat. Make sure that your feet are plantar-flexed and that your legs stay adducted. Sweep your hands past your ears and extend your arms behind your head.
- Inhale and while keeping your abdominals contracted return to your starting position.
What will you feel?
- Enhanced tension in your abdominal muscles, especially the lower ones as they work hard to stabilise your torso in addition to supporting your legs through the movements.
- No tension in your neck as your abdominals strengthen and do the work of supporting you in the chest lift position.
- The controlled contraction and extension in your body in the same way as a Reformer spring.
What muscles does the Pilates Double Leg Stretch work?
- Hip flexors
- Upper back muscles
- Do not strain your neck. If you feel tension here while performing the exercise, support your neck using one hand or support your head by resting it on a small ball.
- Keep your abdominals strongly contracted and connected throughout the exercise.
How can you modify the Pilates Double Leg Stretch?
- A spine supporter can be used if you have a weak lower back
- Keep your feet on the mat
- Abbreviate the arm movement if you have a delicate shoulder.
Do between 10 and 12 repetitions
What are the benefits of the Double Leg Stretch?
- Improved lumbar-pelvic stability in addition to core control
- Deep abdominal strength as well as endurance
- Dissociation and coordination of the shoulders in addition to the hips
- Improved neck as well as head control
If you want to discover more about Pilates, and perhaps even become a Pilates Instructor yourself, then you need to do our Pilates Instructor Course. For more information, please follow this link.