Sometimes we all feel like we need a good stretch. Maybe you have had a hectic day at work, been running around after the kids, or if you're travelling and want something quick to do in the hotel.
Take a look at this great little workout below. If time is tight aim to do 4 repetitions of each move (bar from the roll down) but if you fancy a longer workout you can do up to 8 of each.
Equipment – A workout mat or a couple of towels will do. If you are on carpet you may not need anything at all.
1. Stand at the back of your mat and put both feet together (big toe joints touching).
2. Rotate your legs outwards slightly so your feet go into a Pilates stance (think heels close together, feet in a V position, or my favourite is thinking of Charlie Chaplin).
3. Tip your chin to your chest and slowly uncurl your spine so you are about ¼ of the way down to the floor (think rag-doll) and just hang out there and feel the most gorgeous stretch down your back and legs.
4. Return to standing by rolling all the way up, one vertebrae at a time, starting at the bottom and finishing with the top of your neck.
Quick tip: If you find this hard stand against a wall. As you uncurl your spine you will be able to feel your back coming off the wall bone by bone. When you re-stack your spine, make sure every vertebrae is placed onto the wall in sequence.
1. Come on to your hands and knees on your mat. Make sure your wrists are underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips with a gap in between. (This is called a Four Point Tabletop).
2. Slowly slide your left leg behind you keeping the toes on the floor and at the same time slide your right hand out in front of you.
3. Take a nice slow breath in and raise the arm and leg up so they are in line with your body.
4. Exhale replace them back down.
5. Repeat on the opposite leg/arm.
Quick tip: Be mindful of your spine. Make sure your back is straight (think belly button to spine so your abdominals engage) and that your leg stays nice and straight in line with your bottom.
1. Come onto all fours and put your toes together, knees apart by about 6-10 inches.
2. Push gently through your hands so your bottom lowers towards your heels keeping your arms straight.
3. Put your forehead on the floor and take some nice deep breaths. Hold this position for approx. 20-30 seconds before moving on.
Quick tip: Spread your fingers wide and actively push through the palm of your hand to push your bottom closer to your feet. Try to rest your forehead on the floor but don't worry if you can't!
1. Lie on your back, knees bent, feet on the floor. Make sure your ankles are inline with your knee and your chin is tilted down slightly so your neck is nice and elongated with a slight arch at the bottom of your spine.
2. Push your lower back against the floor so the arch disappears (say hello to your Abdominals and Pelvic Floor), hold for 2 seconds.
3. Arch your lower back (for want of a better description) pretend you have a big bottom and push it out behind you. The bottom of the back will arch. This arch will be quite big and you need to make sure it isn’t painful and that you aren't sticking your chest out as all the movement needs to be from your pelvis.
Quick tip: This exercise can be quite challenging. Put your hands on the bony part of your hips (at the front of your body) and as you arch your back feel your hips move up and towards your thighs. As you push your back on to the mat feel your hips move up and back towards your belly. Try to inhale as you arch your back and exhale as you push your back down.
Single Leg Stretch
1. Hug your right knee into your chest.
2. Lift your left leg towards the ceiling or to a 45 degree angle.
(Depending on your abdominal strength, depends on where you are most comfortable and where your leg should go. You need to make sure that your back is flat on the mat and that you are not arching your back or rocking forwards and backwards. If you feel comfortable doing so you can also lift your head and shoulder blades off the mat look at your belly button or knees).
3. Inhale and pull back on the knee, exhale change legs and hug the opposite knee in. Keep alternating until you have done the required number of repetitions.
Quick tip: The aim here is to keep the trunk of your body ‘quiet’. This means it is stable and you don’t feel yourself rocking around. The only movement should be your arms and legs.
1. Lengthen your right leg up to the ceiling and attempt to keep it as straight as possible.
2. Grab behind your thigh with both hands (if you are very flexible feel free to grab your calf).
3. Lengthen your left leg to 45 degrees or to just above the mat.
4. Gently pull back on your leg twice as you exhale and then ‘scissor’ your legs to change sides. Pull back on the leg twice as you inhale. This counts as 1 rep.
Quick tip: Remember to keep your back on the mat and abdominals engaged and again the trunk of your body should be ‘quiet’.
Side Leg Series
1. Turn on to your right side and lie in a straight line, use your bottom arm as a pillow and put your top arm in front of you so your hand is resting lightly on the floor.
2. Imagine that your body is in between two panes of glass so you can’t move forward or backwards.
3. Bend your bottom leg so the knee is at the front of the mat and the foot is near your bottom.
4. Keeping the top leg straight inhale and lift the leg up, exhale and lower down hovering the foot off the floor.
5. On your fourth repetition keep the leg at the top and attempt to make small circles with the leg – four one way and four the opposite direction.
Quick tip: This move is really hard as you will naturally roll around on your hip and end up not in a straight line. So not only are you working your adductor and abductor muscles (inner and outer leg), you are also using your core!
1. Come back on to all fours and set yourself up in your Four Point Tabletop (see Bird/Dog exercise for a reminder).
2. Inhale to prepare.
3. Exhale and round your back to the ceiling (like an angry cat). Tilt your head under to look at your knees and tilt your pelvis under like a mini crunch. (you should feel a lovely stretch in your back/shoulders).
4. Inhale and drop the abdominals down towards the floor, letting your head and bottom arch towards the ceiling.
5. Repeat a few times.
Quick tip: Your arms should always stay straight. When you come into the Cow position, imagine you are a turtle! Your head should come forward then up – this stops your shoulders from rising up around your ears.
Roll up to stand
1. From the Four Point Tabletop position, tuck your toes underneath your feet.
2. Slowly walk your hands back towards your knees as you rock on to your toes.
3. Engage your glute muscle and legs as you push through the feet to straighten your legs.
4. You should now be in a Roll down position like you were at the beginning of the routine.
5. Slowly re-stack your spine one bone at a time as you roll back to a standing position.
Quick Tip: If you don’t feel confident enough at the moment to try this you can just stand up normally and repeat the Roll Down sequence at the start of the Routine.
Well done! You have just completed the Quick Pilates routine you can do anywhere!