Are you one of those who say goodbye to the gym in summer and always return with a couple of extra kilos and with a squared back? Sometimes in summer we disconnect so much that we end up neglecting our physical and mental shape too much. This year you can avoid it with the Pilates exercises that are recommended to us from Corporate Pilates. You can do them anywhere and they will help you keep your body toned and flexible, and take care of your back, one of the great benefits of the Pilates method.
Are you already a practitioner of the Pilates method? Then you will know the numerous benefits it has for the body and mind: improve strength, flexibility, posture, strengthen your core, take care of your back (here are 9 back stretches) and helps to find the balance of body and mind. If you have never tried it, the seven exercises proposed by Corpora Pilates may be perfect to start with, you can do them anywhere and you don’t need any accessories.
“Before starting the practice, a series of basic principles must be taken into account,” says Laura Cabral, from Corpora Pilates. This expert explains it to us:
- We start from concentration. You have to have absolute control over the movement, avoiding lack of control or overload and practicing fluidity and harmony.
- Breath management. The exercises go at the rate of full breaths.
- pelvic floor. If the exercise is more intense, the pelvic floor contracts to avoid spinal injuries.
- Precision. The movements require precision and mental concentration.
7 Pilates exercises to do in summer
Laura Cabral, a Corpora Pilates teacher, offers us these Pilates exercises and explains how to do them. The goal of these exercises is build strength and increase flexibility to have a stable base that allows us to gradually incorporate increasingly demanding exercises”, he says.
1. Chest lift
Ideal posture to start the session. It is a basic but intense exercise, it is part of other more advanced exercises. This exercise helps us strengthen the core, specifically the traversus, a key muscle that is activated when we keep the abdomen flat on the ground.
How it’s done We start face up. Raise your head and chest, as if looking at your navel, but without resting your lower back on the floor (it can be done at first, but with training it is advisable to maintain a very slight gap to activate the key muscles of the lower back and keep the pelvis neutral and stable). We take a breath and as we exhale, we begin the rise of the head followed by the chest. Once up, we take a breath and when we exhale, we go down slowly supporting vertebra by vertebra, the last thing to support should be the head. Important: bring the head back to the rhythm of the shoulders to avoid overloading the neck; In addition, the hands help us (out of the corner of our eyes we see the elbows), but we must avoid letting the chin crush an imaginary tomato.
Bridging makes the lumbar spine more flexible and lengthens the spine, while strengthening the hamstrings and glutes, stretching the girdle and psoas.
How it’s done Begin by lying on your back, with your arms extended by your sides, your knees bent with your feet parallel to the ground and slightly apart, aligned at the width of your knees and hips. We are taking the body off the ground vertebra by vertebra, starting with the sacrum and continuing with the lumbars, followed by the dorsals, articulating and flexing them one by one, until we reach the support of the scapulae.
The flexibilizing effect of this exercise improves if we use our breath well; you have to take a breath before starting to raise the spine, then it is released while the abdomen contracts and we raise the body with control, taking off vertebra by vertebra. Once up, we maintain the position for a few seconds. To go down, we take in air through our nose again and release it through our mouth, while we support each vertebra on the ground in the opposite direction: from the dorsal to the lumbar.
Beneficial posture after having spent many hours sitting in front of the computer. In addition, it strengthens the abs, shoulders, wrists, and glutes.
How it’s done We start from quadruped, with support on hands below the shoulders and slightly in front; the knees aligned under the hips, keeping the pelvis and spine in perfect alignment with the head, the dorsal curve and the sacrum. You can imagine that you are a table and that no object placed on it can move. To activate the “abdominal center”, you have to challenge it, moving one leg stretching it back, keeping the pelvis stable. Air is taken in the preparation and exhaled with the movement. Repeat with the opposite leg.
This position is one of the best to relax and unload the spine. It is performed in two phases: flexion and extension. It is a variation of quadrupedal posture.
How it’s done We start with the flexion, we take a breath and when exhaling, we put the navel rounding the lumbar muscles, then the dorsal muscles and finally the cervical muscles and the head. Fluidly, we continue by extension, from the flexed position, we take a breath again and while we release it in a controlled manner, we begin the extension of the head… neck… back… lumbar… and pelvis.
Maintain at all times the vertical alignment of the hips over the knees and the shoulders over the wrists (very slightly forward to avoid carpal tunnel discomfort). The key to this exercise is in breathing and movement control.
5. One leg stretch
This exercise tries to challenge the stabilization of the entire trunk, first in the flexion and then in the extension of the legs to strengthen the core. The body must remain stable, without being displaced by the movement, which requires great abdominal control.
How it’s done Begin lying on your back, bend your knees toward your chest creating a 90° angle, contract your abs and begin by stretching your right leg, then alternate with your left leg with each breath. The head is kept on the shoulders, looking forward so as not to overload the neck.
In addition to stretching and making the intercostal spaces more flexible (improving breathing), it helps to stretch the lateral muscles.
How it’s done We start seated, supporting both sitting bones well on the ground. It can be done with the knees bent to the side, in a “Z” position, crossed or in a chair. Place one hand on the ground, to one side of the body and the other, forming a semicircle above the head. Relaxed shoulders and neck to avoid tension. Keeping the pelvis immobile, move the vertebral column in lateral flexion, lengthening it upwards describing a parabola. Then inhale with the upper ribs up towards the ceiling, trying to separate them well. Exhale to return to the starting position, as if the ribs were lowered like a blind. Change sides and repeat the same movements.
7. Iron upside down
Like the iron, it is a very complete exercise, but in reverse. This exercise improves the stability of the hips and knees, it also strengthens the muscles of the shoulder, back, buttocks, and legs.
How it’s done It starts from a sitting position, the legs stretched out and the arms resting behind, with the elbows straight and the hands pointing at our body. You take a breath and when you release, the buttocks are raised from sitting, to a position of alignment of the spine in an inverse way, trying to draw a straight line from the head, shoulders, pelvis and legs. Important, prevent the shoulders from exceeding the wrists so as not to injure ourselves.