Double Leg Stretch
Last month we looked at Single Leg Stretch. Don’t be misled by the similarity in name, Double Leg Stretch is a significant step up in challenge. It’s all about abdominal strength and torso stabilisation. Think of a spring on the Reformer, it stretches as the carriage moves out but maintains strength and tension even on the return.
Double Leg Stretch is such a hard exercise, and learning to carry the weight of both legs requires not only a strong core, but a strong back and hips. The benefit of enduring both these preparation exercises is physical & mental conditioning. In this day and age we struggle with focus and concentration, so these are good exercises to improve it. Once you learn both activities do them everyday, and add 1 more repetition on Monday of each week.
Hanging Knee Lifts
In this exercise we can see Katrina’s stress with managing her own body weight, while exploring and understanding the ‘leg on hip on back’ movement and connection in preparation for undertaking the Double Leg Stretch.
Fit ball Cat Stretch
This exercise is an example of dynamic stability and it requires a lot of mental strength and perseverance. Exhale each time as you pull your knees in and make sure you don’t let your hips sag when you return to plank. You also need fitness in your sides so that you can manage your balance on the unstable ball. Before attempting this exercise make sure you have enough conditioning, fitness, endurance and stamina to hold a front plank and side plank for 1 minute.
Double Leg Stretch
Start on your back (supine) with knees at 90/90 position, hands on knees, head down. Inhale to 100s position (chest lift and legs pressed out to straight), exhale to circle your arms overhead and around beside torso (maintaining abdominal and shoulder connection throughout), inhale to deepen abdominal ‘scoop’, exhale to return to start. Repeat this 3-6 times.
As you develop strength and stability, you can try lowering the legs further with each press out. Then you can maintain the chest lift position through subsequent repetitions.
Things to watch out for when you are not doing this exercise under supervision:
- You can do The Hundred (February) and Rollup (March) without discomfort
- Your neck remains pain and tension free. If this isn’t the case, try keeping knees bent throughout and just complete the arm movements
- Your legs press out at the same level as the bent knees. Imagine you are pressing a wall away
- Your legs remain active and engaged through the whole movement
- You have engaged pelvic floor and lower abdominals before starting – try to exhale 50% before moving – for some people this assists abdominal engagement
- Your upper arm bones are rotating in the shoulder socket – visualise drawing your armpits closer together to help with shoulder stabilization
- Take care that your lower back stays connected with the mat and doesn’t arch when your arms and legs press out from your body
What you will feel:
- Increased ‘tension’ in your abdominal muscles, particularly the lower ones as they work hard to stabilize your torso and support your legs through the movements
- No tension in your neck as your abdominals become stronger and do the work of supporting you in the chest lift position
- A thrill as you experience the controlled contraction and extension in your body just like a Reformer spring!