Double Leg Stretch is your ultimate opposition exercise. Why is this good? Opposition is the stretching/working of some muscles often extending in the opposite direction to other muscles/parts of your body; this creates length, lean muscles, prevents injury as the muscles are warm and stretched, reduces DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) you might have from other training, and so on.
With this particular exercise, you are routing and stabilising your trunk/core in to the ground and extending your arms and legs out. If your trunk is unstable, if your abs get weak, or your breath isn’t working for you, your arm and leg extension will suffer and these benefits won’t be fulfilled. Of course, it all boils down to those abs.
Double leg stretch is a great ab workout. You can modify the exercise in so many ways that will test your core powerhouse’s strength and endurance!
How do I do it?
Starting with the basic set up, knees are bent in towards the chest, one hand on each shin – elbows wide to open the collar bones and stretch out the back. Curl the head neck and shoulder out of the mat, gaze in toward the abdominals. Heels are together, toes are apart, engaged the inner thighs.
Inhale: Lift the arms and legs up toward the ceiling, root the tailbone in to the mat keeping the trunk stable.
Begin to exhale: bring the arms back to the ears, circle them around, as you draw the knees back in to the chest and place the hands back to starting position.
Exhale all the air out of the lungs: hug the knees closer to the chest, tailbone reaches down toward the mat.
Arms: As you inhale to lift the legs, the arms reach forward to reach for the knees, deepening the abdominal work. Exhale, bend the elbows wide as the knees draw back in to the chest, placing the hands back to first position.
Legs: Either lengthening out to a 45 degree angle, instead of 90 toward the ceiling, or even to 2 inches off the floor. The lower the legs are extended out, the deeper the abdominal work. If your lower back rises off the floor in the stretched position, it means your legs and arms are too low.
Head: This can be strenuous on the neck as the legs and arms are moving away from the centre of the body simultaneously. If you don’t put the work in to the abdominals enough, or if your shoulders aren’t away from your ears enough, the neck will suffer.
Warning: coordination is required.
So we know double leg stretch involves working from the core, as you use your abs to extend out from and return to your bodies centre. But there is another way to really work on the core/centre that isn’t so obvious. Using some imagery in the mind really helps your body to understand movements sometimes, and connect in areas. It is really helpful to focus on staying super narrow. Keep your legs tightly together, engaged in the inner thigh as the legs extend through the heels, think of the abs and ribs sinking in toward the center line. Use the image of two moving walls closing in on you from either side; your legs and arms are fighting to push out and away as your torso is exposed to the force.
Opposition is key.