Our Favourite Pilates Mat Exercises to Keep You Feeling Strong & Supple this Winter!
- Foot Release
Sore feet? Feeling stiff through your ankles? Stand with the spiky ball under the arch of your left foot. Slowly roll the ball from your heel to the ball and back again pressing gently into the foot. Soften your right knee (unlock). Roll for 20-30 seconds, repeat other side.
- Side Stretch
These next two are beautiful for reducing shoulder stiffness which may be worse during the winter months. Stand with your feet hip width apart. Take your hands out in front of you and interlock the fingers, gently press the palms of the hands up towards the ceiling. Breathe in, breathe out and gently stretch up and across towards the left corner of the ceiling. Feel a gentle stretch through the side of the body. Keep knees soft, lower back relaxed. Repeat to the other side.
- Strong Shoulder Stretch
Shoulders still stiff? Try this one too! Stand with feet hip width apart. Take a small lunge forward with the right foot, and bend the right knee. Press the heel of the left foot into the ground, balance weight evenly between front and rear foot. Reach up with both arms, keep shoulder blades and neck relaxed. Bring your arms in close to your head. Stretch gently, breathe. Repeat to the other side.
- Hip Release
As Westerners, we spend so much time sitting in office chairs, cars and sofas that we have forgotten how to sit without them! In this exercise, come down on to the floor, and sit with your legs crossed. If you cannot sit on the floor comfortably, use a bolster or cushion underneath your sit bones. Gently uncross and re-cross your legs in the opposite direction. Sit for two minutes each side.
- Abdominal Release
Are your prone to stagnant digestion or constipation? Try this one to get things moving… Lie on your back with your knees bent up feet supporting you. Place a Franklin Ball / Tennis ball on your tummy at your right hand side pelvic crest (the bony prominence on your pelvis, just above the hip). Gently roll the ball up towards your ribs on the right hand side, across the middle of your tummy and down the left hand side of the tummy towards your left pelvic crest. This movement is clockwise, to help aid digestion. Roll gently 3-4 times in a clockwise direction.
- Hamstring Stretch
Feeling tight through the back of the legs or calves? This one is for you! Lie on your back, bend your knees up. Loop a piece of theraband, belt, or scarf around the ball of your left foot. Keep the right foot resting on the mat. Straighten the left knee so that you feel a gentle stretch through the left hamstrings and into the calf. Breathe and keep your neck and shoulders relaxed. Gently pump the toes up toward the ceiling and back toward your nose to mobilise the ankle joint and increase the stretch.
- Thoracic Stretch
Spending too much time on the computer or iPad? Release your back with this ‘crocodile stretch’. Lie on your side with your shoulders, hips, knees and ankles stacked. Bend your knees (bring close towards your chest so you feel stable and won’t roll over). Take arms out in front of you at chest height, place palms together. Breathe in and gently lift top arm up and over to the wall behind you. Allow gentle rotation through the upper back, but keep the hips facing forwards. Repeat x 5-10. Follow the top arm with your gaze if it feels comfortable.
- Spinal Curve Reversal
This last one is beautiful for the spine to counteract excessive flexion from sitting! Lie on your tummy, tuck your elbows in by your sides and prop yourself up on your elbows. Keep your neck, shoulders and the rest of your body (including gluteals) as relaxed as possible while propped on your elbows. Lie in propped position for 2-3 minutes, then lie flat with head on hands to rest. Repeat 2-3 times.
Note: These exercises are designed to promote ease and balance throughout the body and should not be painful. If you experience pain or discomfort during exercises, speak to your physiotherapist for more information.