This Pilates exercise focuses on the hamstrings, but it is also a great way to practice keeping your abdominals lifted, chest open, and shoulders stable.
Time Required: 5 minutes
- Lie on your stomach with both legs together, extended behind you. Activate your inner thighs and hamstrings to keep your legs from splaying out.
- Lift your upper body so that you are supported on your forearms.
- Keep your shoulders and scapula (bony wings of the back) down, chest broad.
- Your elbows will be directly under your shoulders.
- Hands can be clasped together on the floor in front of you or fisted as pictured.
Gaze down or slightly forward so that your neck is a long extension of your spine.
- This step is very important for the safety of your back:
Send your tailbone down toward the floor as you pull your abdominals up away from the mat.
Sending the tailbone toward the floor will lengthen and protect your lower back. Also, doing this exercise with your abs well pulled in adds stability and makes it a better workout for your core.
Exhale and bend your right leg to a 90-degree angle. Then, pulse it twice toward your butt with the foot lightly pointed. Use two sharp exhales to pulse the leg.
Protect your knees by keeping the hamstrings engaged and not kicking too hard.
- Inhale to switch legs, extending the right leg as you bend the left.
- Exhale, performing two pulses with the left leg.
- Repeat 6 to 8 times.
- If you are strong through center and your lower back is lengthened, not crunched, try this exercise with the both legs lifted off the floor slightly when they are extended. This is a lengthening and lifting of the legs out from the hip. Keep the tailbone moving down toward the floor.
- Some people do this exercise alternating the position of the foot -- flex kick, point kick.
- Single Straight Leg Stretch will be a nice counter exercise for Single Leg Kick.
- New Pilates mat exercises are posted regularly in the Free Pilates Newsletter.
What You Need