AM Pilates & Posture:
Basic Stretching and Strengthening Routine
*For your safety, please check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program.
Tips For getting the most from your routine:
1. Warm Up 5-10 minutes before this stretching routine.
- Brisk Walk or Jog (treadmill or neighborhood)
- Jumping jacks, march in place
- Jog up and down the stairs
- Stationary Bike
- Dance! (This is probably the quickest way to warm up because your moving your whole body and keeping it guessing)
- A Warm Shower will also suffice IF you don’t have another option.
2. Breath Through Stretches 20-30 seconds
How to Breath:
A. Inhale through the nose, filling the lungs by focusing the breath into the back like your filling a balloon (your diaphragm)
- Back of the ribs should expand
- Allow the chest to rise,
- The front of the ribs should drop down by keeping the belly softly back
- (This is Pilates breathing-allowing for continuous engagement of the abs.)
B. Exhale through the mouth, deflating the lungs of the air like deflating a balloon
- Back of the ribs should close in
- Belly sinks back further
3. Engage Abdominals (Belly to the Spine) primarily before and during movement from one position to the other. Remain aware of Belly to the Spine throughout stretches and exercises.
4. Use an oppositional pull through the stretch. Like a rubber band needs to be pulled in opposite directions to stretch, our muscles get the most stretch when we use opposition. Ex: In the Hamstring stretch, pull your leg toward your chest as you reach your hip to the ground.
5. Relax into the stretch. Stretch far enough that you can feel it, but not to the point of pain! These stretches should feel good. If you can’t relax into the stretch, you are going too far!
1. Lower Body Stretches Laying on your Back (Supine) on a Mat or Hard surface
1.1- Knee to Chest
· Stretches Hips, Glutes (butt muscles), and Lower back preparing body for lower body stretches
· Start both knees bent, feet flat on floor
1) Engage Abdominals and bring one knee to the chest with your hands
2) Slowly lengthen (straighten) opposite leg along floor as you pull knee in closer
3) Repeat with other leg
4) Engaging Abdominals, slowly bring both knees into your chest and hug the knees. You can come into a contraction bringing the head and shoulders up to open the spine.
1.2- Twist Stretch
· Stretches low back and sides of the low back, Hips, Chest
· Start with both knees bent, feet flat on the floor.
1) Engage Abdominals and bring one knee to the chest with your hands
2) Slowly lengthen (straighten) opposite leg along floor
3) Take opposite hand of knee that is up and gently pull knee across the body.
4) Engage Abdominals to return and repeat on the other side
*The following 3 stretches are to be done with a Resistance Band or belt around the foot
· Stretches back of legs (4 muscles)
· Opposite leg bent or straight (try both)
· Do both Active (moving) and static (still) stretching
1) Midline (towards middle of body)
2) 45 ° (Out)
3) Leg Parallel (straight towards you)
· Stretches inner thighs (3 muscles)
· Opposite Leg Bent or Straight (try both) remembering to reach down (rubber band) with the opposite hip
1) Leg out to side of body as far as you can go to feel the stretch
2) Engage Abdominals (belly to the spine) before moving leg to next stretch
1.5- IT Band
· Stretches Glutes (3 butt muscles) and IT (Iliotibial) tract or band on the outside of the thigh. May also feel back of knee or hamstrings during this stretch
· Opposite leg straight
1) Leg across the body, allowing foot to turn in (sickle)
2) Reach hip of the leg being stretched in the opposite direction (rubber band). Hip should be off of the floor.
1.6- Piriformis and Glutes (no resistance band)
· Stretches your buttocks
· Opposite leg bent, starting with foot on floor
· Piriformis – one of six rotators in the hip and the only one connected to the pelvis; is commonly one culprit to back pain and/or tightness
1) Fold leg over opposite thigh placing ankle over thigh allowing knee to open.
2) Gently Press knee with same hand as leg being stretched (Piriformis stretch)
3) Gently Pull knee towards you (Glute stretch)
1.7 – Quadriceps (no resistance band)
· Stretches thigh muscles in front of leg
· Lay on your side with bottom leg bent for leverage and arm placed where comfortable for support
1) Engage Abs and gently bring top knee in towards you and grab foot with hand
2) Keeping abs engaged, Gently pull foot behind you pressing top hip slightly forward. Should be no pain in the knee
3) Repeat for other leg
2. Spine Stretches and Strengtheners (On Hands and Knees)
*If being on your hands bothers your wrists, you can modify each exercise by coming down to the forearms for a rest or resting in child’s pose (sitting back on heals).
2.1- Cat Stretch
· Stretches the spine
· On All 4s (Hands and Knees)
· Hands a bit wider then shoulders (just so that chest is not squished)
· Move through ‘mad cat’ and ‘happy cat’ 5-10 times
1) Engage Abs (Belly to the Spine)
2) Push into hands rounding back into the sky (mad cat)
3) Arch middle of the back opening the chest (happy cat)
2.2- Wag the Tail (no pic yet)
· Creates lateral movement in the spine
· On All 4s
· Hands in line with shoulders
1) Keeping spine in neutral position (natural without arching or rounding) move tail (butt) side to side
2) Add Head bringing head to tail side to side
2.3- Oppositional Balance
· Strengthens spinal muscles and abdominals
· On all 4s
· Hands a bit wider then shoulders
· Keep focus to the floor (keeps head in line with spine)
· 4-6 times on each side
1) Slide opposite hand and foot along the floor away from the body continuing to lift arm and leg off the floor, reaching in opposite directions. Keep arm and leg in line with body (don’t lift too high)
2) Keep reaching for 5-10 seconds
3) Engage the abs and slowly come back to all 4s and repeat on other arm and leg
2.4- Plank to Push-Ups
· Super Core Strengthener
· Start on all 4s
· Up onto balls of feet for push-up position, reaching heals back
· Belly to Spine
· Make sure hands are in line with the shoulders
· Keep energy pushing through shoulders and and reaching through heals (think of it as an active position, not a pose)
· Body should make a plank position (no bumps)
1) Hold Plank position for as long as possible up to one minute (come to forearms to perform this exercise if the wrists are in pain)
2) Go into Child’s Pose to Rest (Sitting on heels, head and chest down.)
3) Push-Ups-10 each
- 1-Classic (wide)
- 2-Diamond with the hands (elbows down to diagonal)
- 3-Pilates Push-Up (hands under shoulders, fingers pointing forward, elbows straight back)
2.5 Child’s Pose
1) Relax back into sitting on heals, resting forehead on mat, arms out.
2) Turn head and place arms by your side. Breath and relax. Change the head.
This concludes AM Pilates & Posture’s basic stretching and strengthening routine. This routine is gentle enough to do every day!
For questions or to make an appointment please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider before beginning any new exercise or stretching routine with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.