January 22, 2018

Some Free Pilates Exercises For You To Do At Home

There are dozens, maybe hundreds of Pilates exercises that can be done  so below are just a few of them that you could do in the comfort of your home.

The Hundred

Posture: Supine Base Posture

Movement:

Activate core using T.A. or P.F. inhale to prepare and as you exhale raise the right leg to coffee table position. Inhale for five counts, exhale for 5 counts. Repeat 4-9 times aiming for ten complete breath cycles. Exhale as you lower right leg to the floor and then repeat exercise on the left leg.

Benefits:

This is a basic exercise used to strengthen the core muscles and help in maintaining neutral spine.

Single Leg Stretch

Position: Supine Base Position

Movement:

Activate core using T.A. or P.F. Exhale as you extend your right foot, keeping your heel in contact with the floor. Imagine you are pushing your foot through sand. Exhale and fully extend leg then inhale as you draw leg back to the start, repeat 4-9 times. Repeat on opposite leg. You can also begin with the leg in a coffee table position extending leg at a 45degree angle.

Benefits:

Strengthens and stretches all the muscles of the leg and hip joint.

Shoulder Bridge

Position: Supine Base Position

Movement:

Activate core using T.A. or P.F. To begin inhale as you tilt pelvis up at the front and flatten the spine into the floor. Exhale as you return to start position. Next as you inhale try to tilt then lift the tailbone, return to start. On each repetition try to lift another vertebrae or two. Try to lift and return one vertebrae at a time. Final position is a sloped position between shoulders and knees, once you pass halfway toward this position inhale while resting on floor, and exhale as you move, inhale in sloped position and then exhale as you return. Repeat 4-9 times.

Benefits:

Stretches the muscles and other connective tissues of the spine and strengthens the muscles, particularly of the lower spine.

The Scissors

Position: Supine Base Position

Movement:

Activate core using T.A. or P.F. Inhale to prepare and as you exhale raise the right leg to coffee table position. Keeping the knee bent at the same angle throughout the movement, exhale and lower right big-toe to the floor, inhale as you return the leg to coffee table position. Maintain the angle at the knee and the neutral spine throughout. Repeat 4 to 9 times, then repeat on opposite leg.

Benefits:

Strengthens core and muscles of the lower spine.

One Leg Circles

Position: Supine Base Position

Movement:

Activate core using T.A. or P.F. Inhale to prepare and as you exhale raise the right leg to coffee table position. Place right hand on right knee. Imagine there is a laser light coming from the knee-cap onto the ceiling. Now begin drawing circles on the ceiling by circling the thigh in the hip joint, inhale as you move toward the centre line and then exhale as you move away from centre line. Start with small circles and then increase the size slowly. Try to keep the weight in the hips level. Imagine that there is a cup of coffee or a glass of wine on the left knee that you don’t want to spill, keep this leg steady as you move the other. Perform 5 to 10 circles in one direction and then repeat in the opposite direction. Exhale as you lower the leg. Then repeat on the left side.

Benefits:

Strengthens and stretches the muscles of the hip and upper leg.

Double Leg Stretch

Position: Supine Base Position

Movement:

Activate core using T.A. or P.F. Exhale as you raise hands until they are directly above your shoulders. Begin by inhaling as you move the arms in and down the body, moving in a circular motion back to the start, exhale as you move away from centre and back up. Repeat 4-9 times, then reverse direction and do equal number of circles.

Benefits:

Strengthens and stretches the muscles of the shoulder and arm.

The Swan

Position: Prone, lying face down on the floor. Toes together let heels fall out to the side. Make an E shape with your arms and head, elbows in line with shoulders, wrists in line with elbows. Head in neutral, face parallel with floor, nose only point of contact with the floor.

Movement:

Activate core using T.A. or P.F. As you exhale extend the neck and head through the crown. Extend as long as you exhale and then inhale as you return to start. Keep face parallel with the floor. Repeat 4-9 times.

Benefits:

Lengthens the upper spine and prevents or helps to reverse hunched back, rounded shoulders, forward head and over rounding of thoracic spine.

Spine Twist

Position: Seated position, feet flat on the floor hip distance apart. Sit up tall extending through the crown and relaxing the shoulders. Hands together at centre of chest, thumbs in contact with breastbone.

Movement:

Activate core using T.A. or P.F. Exhale as you rotate the torso to the left. Keep hands in contact with breastbone and nose in line with the fingertips throughout.Inhale as you return to centre and exhale as you rotate to the right. Inhale on the way back to centre. Repeat 4-9 times.

Benefits:

Stretches the muscles of the spine and upper back.

Swimming 1

Position: Prone with one hand atop the other and forehead resting on hands.

Movement:

Activate core using T.A. or P.F. Exhale and extend right leg, toe pointed away from body. Don’t lift the leg just extend it. Inhale and return to start. Repeat 4-9 times and then do an equal number on the opposite leg.

Benefits:

Stretches, particularly the hip flexor, and strengthens the muscles of the hip and leg.

The Sidekick

Position: Lie on your right side in a straight line with your right arm straight above your head, head resting on your arm in neutral position. Shoulders, hips and legs stacked, left hand on the floor in front of your belly-button for balance. Hand reaching for one wall toes reaching toward opposite wall.

Movement:

Activate core using T.A. or P.F. Inhale to prepare and as you exhale raise the right leg to hip height. Next if you feel you are able remove the left hand to challenge. Replace hand and on the next out breath raise the left leg to meet the right leg. Again if you feel you are able remove the left hand. Replace the hand and as you exhale move the right leg forward an inch or two, inhale as you return, repeat 3 to 4 times. Keep the rest of the body as it is and be careful not to allow the left leg to move back.

Benefits:

Strengthens the side of the abdominals, the muscles of the inner and outer leg and stretches the opposite sides.

Leg Pull Prone

Position: Lie on your front, or prone, feet hip distance apart. Elbows directly beneath your shoulders, palms flat on the floor or clasped together. Head in line with the spine, keep the spine relaxed.

Movement:

Activate core using T.A. and P.F. Take up one of three position; bring the spine to neutral creating a straight line from hip to shoulder; come up onto your knees creating a straight line from knee to shoulder; rise onto your toes performing a full bridge, straight line from ankle through hip to shoulder. Hold your position for 3-5 breaths then relax. Aim to reach ten breaths at the lower levels before moving onto the next.

Benefits:

Full body strength exercise, excellent work for the core, upper body and lower. Take your time with the movement and do not strain your lower back.

Swimming 2

Position: Box Position

Movement:

Activate your core using T.A. or P.F., take a breath to prepare. Exhale as you push your right foot back, as if through sand, stretching it to the full and maintaining contact with the floor at all times. Inhale as you return the foot to the start position. Maintain a flat, level back throughout, imagine there is a glass of water sitting on the small of your back. Repeat 4 to 9 times. Then repeat on the opposite leg. T advance, alternate legs with each movement.

Benefits:

Stretches the hip flexor, hamstring and shin muscles. Strengthens the glutes, quadriceps, and calf as well as the stabilizing muscles of the lower spine and pelvis.

Side Bend

Position: Lie on your side aligning yourself with the back edge of the mat. Support yourself on your elbow, placed at the back of the mat below the shoulder, your hip at the back of the mat and bend the knees so that the flat of your feet align with the back of the mat. Ensure head is in neutral alignment, shoulders, hips and legs are stacked on top of each other. Tense the side closest to the mat, as if holding a beach ball under your arm. Adjust elbow if necessary.

Movement:

Activate your core using T.A. or P.F. inhale to prepare, exhale as you lift you hip, imagine there is a hook on your hip and you are being lifted by this, inhale as you return to the floor. Kiss the floor with your hip and lift again. Repeat 4 to 9 times.

Benefits:

Strengthens the obliques of the waist, muscles of the outer thigh, hips and shoulder. Stretches the same muscles on the opposite side.

Rolling Back

Position: Sit on the floor, feet flat on the floor hip distance apart, sit up tall head drawn up through crown, shoulders relaxed back and down, hands placed lightly under the thighs.

Movement:

Activate core using T.A. and P.F. Inhale as you tilt the pelvis up at the front and flatten the lower back, curving the spine into a C shape. Exhale and return to start. Each time you move back try to go a little further separating out each vertebrae. If you go half way or further alter the breathing. Breath in before you begin, and then exhale as you roll back first separating the vertebrae and then laying each vertebrae on the floor one at a time until you are lying flat on the floor in supine position. Inhale and then exhale as you roll back up lifting each vertebrae off the floor one at a time, then returning to upright. Repeat 4 to 9 times. Only use the hands to aid you back up at the beginning do not hold onto the legs.

Benefits:

Strengthens and stretches the muscles of the spine and strengthens the abdominal muscles.

Roll Up

Position: Seated base posture, hands on the floor beside the hips.

Movement:

Activate core using T.A. or P.F., take a breath to prepare. As you inhale tilt the to the front and flatten the lower back, curving the spine into a C shape. Rock back along the spine to the shoulders, no further and exhale as you roll back up to the start, imagine your back is like the bottom of a rocking chair. Try to keep the calves the same distance from the thighs, thighs the same distance from the chest. Repeat 4 to 9 times. If this movement is difficult begin by lying on the floor. Clutch your thighs to your chest and rock back and forth until you are able to rock up to a sitting position.

Benefits:

Helps to mobilize the vertebrae and strengthen the core and abdominals.

Push Up

Position: Standing Base Posture

Movement:

Activate your core using T.A. or P.F., take a breath to prepare. As you exhale allow your head to fall forward and then let your spine follow. Roll down one vertebrae at a time, imagine your head is a weight on the end of a chain.

Keep your knees soft and try not to let your bottom stick out. Half way down inhale and keep rolling until your hands touch your feet, or the floor. You can walk your hands down your legs to take the pressure off your lower back if necessary. Breathe out as you crawl forward on all fours, like a bear, into a box position.

Keeping your elbows in at your sides, inhale as you lower yourself to the mat, bending from the waist and maintaining neutral spine. Exhale as you push back up to the box position. Inhale as you crawl back and regain the bent over standing position. Exhale as you begin to roll back up, stacking each vertebrae one on top of the other until you return to standing posture inhaling half way up. Repeat 4 to 9 times.

Benefits:

This is a strength exercise for the back, spine, core, chest and triceps, it also stretches all of these muscles and the hamstrings while they work.