Pilates exercises incorporate stretching with strengthening and is a vital component of an effective exercise programme. Here at Little Venice Pilates we are sometimes asked “What is the point of stretching?” Obvious if you perform a sport such as gymnastics or an art form such as dance, but what is the point for most of us? Stretching reduces the risk of muscle and tendon injuries, reduces muscle soreness, enhances blood supply and tissue nourishment, increases flexibility making daily activities and movement, and helps the body cool down and eliminate toxins.
Exercise of The Week – “The Towel Exercise”
A good exercise for anyone who works at a desk, drives, cycles or does a daily activity that increases the upper back to become more rounded/curved (kyphosis). Also useful for shoulder flexibility for those who play golf or tennis.
- Hold a towel lengthened or taut (or a pole or broom handle) in front of you, with your arms down, and hands a little wider apart than your shoulders
- Stand upright in a straight, and relaxed posture.
- Breathe to ease any existing tension from the body.
- Lift the towel maintaining the tautness above your head, Keeping your arms and back straight. Open the distance between your hands as wide as necessary to allow you to reach your arms back behind your head, maintaining the tautness of the towel to bring your arms and the towel down behind you. Inhale.
- Exhale as your reverse to bring the arms and towel (or pole) back up and over your head to the position in front of your body.
- Repeat 3 to 5 times.
Keep your abdominal muscles and chest lifted, and prevent the back from arching.
Keep your shoulders down
Practice with different size towels (hand towels are usually too small), find something you are comfortable with and keep it at your desk.
Never force the movement back. Breath and ease. If it doesn’t go, widen the distance between your hands.
To increase the challenge, each day move the hands close together by one finger width at a time to obtain the optimal position for your body.
To advance, reach down for your toes when you come forward.
The exercise releases tension in the upper back. Done regularly it will assist in maintaining a healthy back.