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Pilates Mat Exercise - Spine Stretch

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Updated June 14, 2014

Senior woman stretching on a pier
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Pilates mat exercise, spine stretch, is useful anywhere in a workout. It is a great stretch for the back and the hamstrings, as well as a moment to center oneself before moving on to more challenging exercises.

  1. Sit up tall on your sit bones.

    Your legs are extended about shoulder width apart, and your feet are flexed.

    Reach the top of your head to the sky but let your shoulders stay relaxed. See image at right.

  2. Inhale and extend your arms out in front of you, shoulder height.
    A modification here would be to place the fingertips on the floor in front of you between your legs.

  3. Exhale as you lengthen your spine to curve forward. You are going for a deep C-Curve. (Click the image to your right, and click "next" to see image two of the c-curve.)

    Allow a deep release in the hips as you keep your shoulders down and reach your fingers toward your toes.

  4. Inhale and reach a little further as you enjoy the fullness of your stretch.

  5. Exhale and initiate your return by using the lower abdominals to bring the pelvis upright. Roll up through the spine to sitting.


Modifications for Spine Stretch
  1. If your hamstrings are tight, sit on a little lift, like a folded towel. You can also try this exercise with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor (click on the photo above to see a demonstration of this).

  2. It also works quite well to do this exercise with the fingertips running across the floor in front of you. This variation will take some pressure out of the shoulders and upper back.


Practice Spine Stretch as part of Pilates Quick Workout 1.

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