We all know that eating the recommended five fruit and veg a day is good for your overall health and wellbeing. Well how about five Pilates exercises practiced daily to make you feel stronger, more toned and energised. Research has indicated that just 10 – 15 minutes of core strengthening exercises per day can make a feel difference to the way your body feels.
It is obviously important to warm up to mobilise your joints prior to commencing any exercise. The first and most important principle is the breathing technique, breathing deeply in through the nose and out through a pursed lip will help you to start engaging the abdominals. It is a good idea to perform a breathing exercise first and aim to feel the air expanding into the back and sides of your ribcage whilst stabilising your shoulders.
Lying on your back with your knees flexed and feet flat on the floor, hip width apart we can start to add some movement. Start with some pelvic tilts forwards and backwards to find your neutral spine, follow with a pelvic floor exercise to engage the deep core muscle of the torso (transversus abdominis). A few arm circles will warm up the shoulder girdle.
1. Hip Rolls is a great Pilates exercise and is often used as part of the warm up. This exercise helps to release tension in the back and gets all of the synovial fluids releasing in the pelvic region and spine from sacral (tailbone) all the way up to cervical (neck). It also works the glutes and abdominals to stabilse the torso and is a fantastic exercise for pelvic stability.
2. Ab Prep teaches correct forward flexion of the thoracic spine whilst maintaining neutral pelvic placement. This exercise is a great abdominal exercise focusing not only on pelvic floor and transversus engagement, but also on the obliques and rectus abdominis to bring about flexion of the upper torso and aiming to reduce tension in the neck whilst stabilising the shoulders.
3. Breast Stroke Prep 2 teaches correct thoracic extension whilst stabilising and strengthening the lower lumbar spine in neutral. This exercise is great strengthening for the back extensors and scapular (shoulder blade) stabilisers as well as working the latissimus and challenging lateral rotation of the shoulder girdle – Often many who sit at desks or look after children regularly find they can start to medially rotate (inwardly) through the shoulder girdle and maybe as a result feel as if they are stooping or rounding the upper back to much. This exercise tackles this and is especially great for anybody who wants to stand taller and open up through the chest. To finish this exercise complete a Shell Stretch.
4. One Leg Circles is a great exercise to promote core / torso stability. In addition to this you get to work the leg muscles which helps promote well toned thighs.
5. Leg Pull Front Prep is again a wonderful basic Pilates exercise which promotes torso stabilisation in neutral and works the serratus anterior (deep core muscle for shoulder girdle) to help aid shoulder stability. It is more challenging than it looks to perform the technique correctly!
Click the links above to view a full description and photo of each exercise. If you would like to take up Pilates regularly with either, private 1-2-1 tuition, or a small group class, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on times and prices.
*Remember always use a Pilates/Gym mat or at best a very soft surface such as a thick rug to practice these exercises.