Pilates to go: stretch and release (part II)

Be it by plane, train, or automobile, traveling can leave your body feeling bound up and cranky. Here’s a few of our fave on-the-go stretches to get you through those tight times.  See Part 1 here!

What you’ll need:

Yoga strap or Thera-band
Small rubber ball
Yoga block
Room to stretch

Exercise # 8: Figure-4 

Target: Tight hip muscles

Set Up:

  • Lay on your back, knees bent.
  • Bring right ankle to rest on opposite knee.

Move:

  • Inhale: Connect with your abdominals.
  • Exhale: Contract and lift your left leg.
  • Inhale: Gently grasp behind left thigh, pulling thigh into chest.
  • Exhale: Relax into stretch.
  • Hold stretch for 10-15 seconds, repeat 2-4 times, and switch sides.

Modify:

  • To further open and stretch hip, press stretching thigh away with elbow.
  • Place foot against wall to support lifted leg.

Exercise # 9: Mermaid

Prop: Yoga block

Target: Tight back muscles

Set Up:

  • Seated with both knees bent and to the side (legs on the left side of the torso).
  • Right hand on yoga block.

Move:

  • Inhale: Connect with abdominals (reach free arm above head).
  • Exhale: Side bend, reaching away form legs.
  • Hold stretch for 10-15 seconds, repeat 2-4 times, and switch sides.

Modify:

  • If mermaid position irritates knees or hips, exercise can be performed seated in lotus position, or in a chair
  • Exercise # 10-12: Shoulder Stretches
  • Target: Tight shoulder, upper back, and neck muscles

Shoulder Stretch #1

Set Up:

  • Standing, feet hip distance apart

Move

  • Inhale: Connect with abdominals.
  • Exhale: Cross one arm over the chest, gently cradling it with elbow of opposite arm.
  • Hold stretch for 10-15 seconds, repeat 2-4 times, and switch sides.

Shoulder Stretch – #2

Set Up:

  • Standing feet hip distance apart.
  • Arms wrapped and elbows bent, one on top of the other.
  • Palms facing each other.

Move:

  • Inhale: Connect with abdominals.
  • Exhale: Lift arms towards ceiling, keeping shoulders stabilized and away from ears.
  • Inhale: Return to starting position.
  • Hold stretch for 10-15 seconds, repeat 2-4 times, and switch sides.

Modify:

  • If lack of flexibility does not allow you to perform this exercise, repeat Shoulder Stretch # 1.

Shoulder Stretch # 3

Set Up:

  • Standing feet hip distance apart.

Move:

  • Inhale: Connect with abdominals and lift right arm above your head.
  • Exhale: Place right hand on left side of head and gently tilt head toward right shoulder, keeping left shoulder stabilized and away from your ear.
  • Hold stretch for 10-15 seconds, repeat 2-4 times, and switch sides.

Modify:

  • Stand on thera-band; hold thera-band with left hand to further depress shoulder and increase stretch by letting band pull arm towards the floor.

*Tip: Be careful not to force stretch or turn head.

Exercise # 13: Upper Back/Shoulder Roll Out

Prop: Small ball

Target: Tight shoulder, upper back, and neck muscles

Set Up:

  • Standing feet hip distance apart, back against wall.
  • Small ball between upper back and wall.

Move:

  • Inhale: Connect with abdominals.
  • Exhale: Begin to roll ball back and forth across shoulders and upper back.
  • Keep breathing: When you find a tight spot, hold ball still, breathe and focus on releasing target area. Hold for 10-15 seconds and move to a new spot.

Modify:

  • Change placement of the ball (e.g. further up neck, between shoulder blades).


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