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How To Do Single Straight Leg Stretch


Updated September 18, 2007

Single Straight Leg Stretch

Modified Single Straight Leg Stretch

Photo Courtesy of Kolesar Studios
Single straight legs is an intermediate Pilates mat exercise that challenges abdominal endurance and stretches the backs of the legs. This is a different exercise than Single Leg Stretch.

Modifications for this exercise include leaving the head down, bending the knees slightly, and increasing or decreasing the distance between the legs.
Difficulty: Average
Time Required: 5 min.

Here's How:

  1. Begin by lying flat on the mat but with your legs extended toward the ceiling. Legs and heels are together in Pilates stance, rotated slightly outward from the hips.

  2. Lengthen your spine, pull in your abdominals, and curl your chin and upper body up off the mat. The tips of the shoulder blades touch the mat.

    You will maintain this upper body lift throughout the exercise. It is supported by the abdominals, not by straining the back or neck. Chest lift is a good building-block exercise for this move.

  3. Grasp your right ankle, or below the knee if you have tight hamstrings. Stretch your left leg out at a 45 degree angle.

    You can adjust the angle of the outstretched leg to make the exercise more or less difficult. The lower the leg, the harder the abdominals have to work to maintain alignment.

  4. Inhale: Gently pull your right leg toward you. Pulse the leg toward you twice, increasing your stretch.

    Switch legs quickly.

  5. Exhale: Pull your left leg toward you. Pulse the leg toward you twice, increasing your stretch.

    Switch legs quickly.

  6. Repeat 6-10 times.
    If you begin to feel strain in your neck, it is time to rest and then begin again.


  1. Modify by keeping your head down and/or bending the knees slightly.

  2. If you choose to increase difficulty by lowering the outstretched leg, you must be able to use your abdominals to keep your lower back from popping up off the mat.

  3. Try to get a nice smooth rhythm going with the breath and the switching of the legs.

  4. In a deep scoop like this one, you will want to breathe deeply into your back and sides.

  5. The exercise, swimming, will provide a good counter stretch for single straight leg stretch.

What You Need

  • An Exercise Mat
Related Video
How to Stretch Your Lower Body

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