This is a lovely choreographed sequence, which stretches the hamstrings, allows for sequential articulations of the spine and works the core, glutes, adductors and quads.
The headrest is down. Lie supine on the carriage and place one foot on the footbar. Perform a single leg plie to extend this leg fully. Bend the other leg towards the chest and place the strap around the foot, close to the heel. Keep the carriage still with that leg by maintaining an even tension in the strap. Gently take the other foot off the footbar and place the strap around this foot. Push both legs away from the body until they are extended to around 45 degrees or lower or wherever a neutral pelvis allows. The legs are in parallel with the feet pointed.
Inhale – To engage the powerhouse and hinge the extended legs in towards the chest as far as a neutral pelvis allows. The carriage will move towards the stopper but may not touch it (unless very flexible in the hamstrings)
Exhale – To engage the powerhouse and peel the spine off the carriage, one vertebra at a time until the body comes up to a shoulder stand position (N.B. the body weight rests in between the shoulders and upper back but NOT on the neck). The carriage will move to the stopper
Inhale – Turn out the legs in the hip socket and flex the feet. Bend the knees no wider than shoulder width apart, bringing the heels down towards the buttocks. The shins will be parallel to the carriage. Maintain the shoulder stand. Keep an even tension in the straps as the knees bend to prevent the carriage from moving
Exhale – To roll the spine back down onto the carriage, one vertebra at a time. The heels remain in a fixed position here so that the angle at the knee joint increases as the spine rolls down (i.e. legs move towards extension). The carriage must remain still
Inhale – To bend the knees and bring the heels towards the buttocks. Ideally the knees will be above the hips and the heels are level to the knees. The spine returns to a neutral position. The carriage will move accordingly
Exhale – To push the legs away from the chest to around 45 degrees and return the carriage back to the starting position. Turn the legs back into a parallel position
Hamstrings, core abdominals, gluteals, adductors, lateral rotators
Ensure that the knees are not locked out as this will place more strain on the joint
Think of the femur and pelvis working separately. There can be a tendency, as the femur comes towards the body, to take the pelvis with it (i.e. almost as if they were fused), resulting in a posterior pelvic tilt
Ensure that the knees do not go any wider than shoulder width apart
This series of exercises are unsuitable for those with knee problems. The turned out position may be unsuitable for sciatica. Unsuitable for osteoporosis and certain back problems.
Pilates Double Leg Stretch Classic ExerciseView exercise >
This is one of the classic 34 exercises in Joseph Pilates original repertoireView exercise >
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