Strenghten and stretch

Pilates is known for developing both strength and flexibility in your body. There are various stretching exercises that increase flexibility in almost all areas of the body e.g. the back, front-body, side-body, hamstrings and hips.

Strengthening is just as important as stretching to gain this flexibility; it is what helps maintain alignment as you stretch a muscle. All of the following exercises will help to promote both strength and flexibility:

Half roll up/full roll down is a great all-over stretch. It begins with a big opening of the chest and extension of the back combined with a deep curve that stretches out both the back and the hamstrings.

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Spine Stretch Forward; a great stretch for the back and hamstrings that also provides a moment to centre yourself before moving on to more challenging exercises (or just to de-stress). Doing spine stretch forward, gently, at the beginning of a routine or use it for a more intense stretch later in your workout. *Those with tight hamstrings may be more comfortable seated on a small lift, like a folded blanket or towel.

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Saw is an interesting exercise. The rotation of the trunk creates an opportunity for a strong oppositional stretch through the back muscles and out the tips of the fingers. Along with that, there is deep flex at the hip and a good stretch for the hamstrings.

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Swan is a back extension exercise, so it provides a great counter stretch for the many forward flexion exercises we do in Pilates. Swan stretches the abdominals and hip flexors, even as it strengthens the abdominals, back, shoulders, inner thighs, and hamstrings.

Neck Roll; taking swan a step further. This will allow you to practice the freedom of movement one can experience when the head and neck are well-supported by a strong core and stable upper body.pswannr2

Mermaid side stretch lengthens and opens the side of the body. Keeping the hips grounded as the full reach of the arm carries the torso up and over will connect the stretch all the way through the center of the body.

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Hip stretch This is an easy but very well-targeted stretch. It will help you get to that tight place just just behind the outside of the hip and in to the glutes.

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