Pilates Exercise of the Month: Sciatic Stretch

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Image of Exercise


To stretch the sciatic nerve

Starting Position

Lie supine on the floor with both knees bent.  Bend the right knee in towards the chest and place a stretch band behind the foot.  The band is held in the opposite hand to the foot (i.e. left hand).  Extend the right leg away from the body until the leg is as straight as possible.  Bring the leg towards the chest (hamstring stretch) as far as a neutral pelvis allows


Inhale - to prepare

Exhale - Guide the right leg across the body towards the left side, using the band to pull it gently over to the opposite side.  Simultaneously bring the left bent knee also towards the opposite right side, ensuring that the foot stays on the floor.  Effectively the legs criss cross eah other.

There are 2 actions for the straight leg here: the leg comes towards the chest: the leg comes across the body.  Use the right hand to press down on the right hip so that it does not lift away from the floor as the leg comes across the body.

Target Muscles

Sciatic nerve, hamstrings


  • Ensure that the hip and buttock of the straight leg stays on the floor to prevent them from lifting
  • Keep the waist long and equal on both sides to avoid hip hitching
  • Keep the foot flexed to ensure a nerve stretch
  • The knee must be as straight as possible to gain maximum benefit from the stretch
  • A nerve stretch can often be unpleasant so be careful not to go too far and overstretch
  • Ensure the spine stays in neutral with the head on the floor
  • Keep the neck long

Contra Indictions

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Swan Dive with Foam Roller

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Around the Globe with the Power Ring

To work the oblique abdominals whilst achieving segmental control of the spine

Table Top on the Reformer (0.5-2 Springs)

This exercise works the core abdominals whilst maintaining lumbar and scapula stability

Knee Stretch on Single Leg on the Reformer

This exercise is a preparation for the full knee stretch series.  We focus on pelvic and scapula stability here, whilst working the quadriceps.


To work the deep and superficial abdominals and oblique abdominals whilst maintaining a neutral pelvis

Elephant on the Reformer– Round Back (0.5 – 2 springs)

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Table Top

To work the core abdominals whilst maintaining lumbar and scapula stability and to challenge balance and co-ordination

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Glass Table

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The Spine Twist

  To strengthen the core and oblique abdominals, whilst maintaining a neutral spine with good posture and good use of scapula stability

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The Boomerang

  To work the abdominals and achieve segmental control of the spine and to stretch the back

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Chalk circles

  To learn how to rotate and stretch the thoracic spine, whilst maintaining a neutral lumbar spine.  To open out the chest and shoulders.

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  To prepare the body and mind for the more challenging work later on when the feet are in the straps.  To reinforce the powerhouse connection.

Prone Frogs

  To work in turn out, whist strengthening the gluteals and to maintain scapula stability

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  To open the chest and shoulder muscles and learn good workings of the scapula stabilising muscles


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