The side leg lift engages the oblique abdominal muscles and promotes lengthening of all the major muscles. Focus on keeping your hips stacked and stable as you squeeze your glutes and lift your legs. Side leg lifts work the abdominals, especially the obliques, as well as the inner thighs. Lifting the legs together keeps the inner thighs and glutes engaged as the abdominals pulled in and up, developing core strength and balance.
Lay on your side check you can see your toes then bring your head back into alignment
Top arm either bent to support you or on a ball to add to the difficulty
Inhale to prepare
Exhale and raise each leg individually, maintaining that core contraction
As with all exercises, work at the level that works for you and only progress when you feel ready and able to up the challenge and difficulty. Side bend is great for stretching the muscles surrounding the rib cage i.e serratus and intercostals as well as strengthening your obliques, improving your balance and toning your waist line.
How to do it:
Sit sideways with your legs bent to one side, with the top foot placed in front of the bottom foot
Place the supporting hand in line with the seated hip a few inches in front of the shoulder
Press into supporting hand and straighten the legs to lift the pelvis away from the Mat, making a rainbow shape with the body
To slow down the pace of the exercise, inhale in the start position. Exhale as you bring the arm overhead and stretch into the top side of the body. Inhale and stay. Exhale and lower down.
The body should be in a line as if it is between two panes of glass
Repeat 4 times
Leave the shin of your bottom leg on the mat and lift your top arm up and overhead, imagine rocking onto that bottom knee
Keep your supporting arm bent, to decrease the range of movement
The best way to improve your strength and flexibility is to come to a class, check out the timetable and venue list here.
Here is my video of the dead bug exercise using a Pilates fit ball. This pilates exercise is a great way to strengthen your abs and core without putting added strain on your lower back, which can be a concern with other common ab exercises.
As with all exercises, work at the level that works for you and only progress when you feel ready and able to up the challenge and difficulty.
How to do it:
Lie flat on your back with your arms held out in front of you pointing to the ceiling. Then bring your legs up so your knees are bent at 90-degree angles, we call this the table top position. If this is too hard then leave one foot on the floor for stability and build up to both legs off the floor.
Find that neutral spine, so remember there should be a little gap under your lumbar spine (lower back, draw your ribs towards your hips and engage your core by pulling your belly button to your spine.
Place the ball between your knees (if you don’t have a ball don’t worry)
Inhale to prepare and take your arms and legs away from the mid line of your body. Keep your legs bent and toe tap them to the floor.
Inhale as you return to the starting position.
To make this easier reduce the range of movement or try leaving your arms in the air and just move your legs
To make it harder as I do in the video take your legs further away from your body increasing the range of movement
Use opposite arm and leg to bring in muscular coordination
Watch out for:
Keep the pelvis still and in neutral throughout the movement.
Avoid using your neck or tensing your shoulders.
Watch for doming of the abdominals as you lower your leg towards the ground. This is when the abs “pop up” and is a sign that they are weak and can lead to back pain. To prevent doming, reduce your range of movement and only send your leg towards the ground to the point where your abdominals can stay flat. Then bring the leg back.
Over the next few weeks I will share with you some of my favourite Pilates workouts to increase strength, flexibility and balance.
Balance is a fundamental skill everyone should practise. It’s something we take for granted, but as we get older balance and muscle strength can help to stop us from having falls. When you balance on one leg you use your core and small muscles in your feet to keep upright. Find a spot on the wall in front of you which keeps you in alignment. Draw your belly button to your spine and feel the length through your spine, use your toes to grip the ground. In this video I have added in some upper body work with the ball, as you increase the range of movement think about squeezing your core to remain still. Each time you open your arms imagine squashing a walnut between your shoulder blades to activate your upper back muscles. As you improve increase the range of movement and then reps. To make it harder try standing on a block, to make it easier decrease the range of movement and height of the leg. I hope you enjoy this little video. Subscribe to keep updated with more Pilates workouts.
The Couch Stretch is super easy & super effective at opening the anterior hip & increasing rectus femoris (quadricep) length. It’s a great “bang for buck” stretch/mobility drill for anyone who sits most of the day but still needs to be able to open the hip up during sport (e.g. runners, weightlifters).
Brace your trunk into a neutral spine, get the knee as close to the wall as you can tolerate and tuck your pelvis into a posterior rotation…don’t forget to squeeze your glute to generate extension!! Remember, it’s hip extension, not back extension, so keep the spine neutral to open your facet joints. Aim to hold for around 2 minutes each side, repeat as often as necessary. It can also be done with your foot on the sofa (hence the name) if you find discomfort with the ankle position on the wall.
‘seventy9 Sports Therapy is a private sports injury clinic in Farnham, Surrey, specialising in the treatment and rehabilitation of musculoskeletal injuries across the entire activity spectrum. We pride ourselves on the delivery of a high-performance service, regardless of your physical or sporting abilities. Our skilled and experienced therapists use best evidence-based practice to restore full fitness and function across the spectrum of sport, exercise and occupationally related injuries, treating you as an individual and building bespoke exercise programmes to fit your lifestyle and schedule. Our therapists are all members of The Society of Sports Therapists.’