The Pilates Spine Stretch
Spine Stretch can sometimes be overlooked as an “easy” exercise. However, the common mistake is that Spine Stretch is simply a bend at the waist to reach as far forward as possible. While this may seem impressive to be able to touch your toes, it is far from beneficial unless you are connected in your center, utilizing oppositional energy from your head to your toes, and focused on your breath. With each repetition of Spine Stretch, your spine will release tension and feel less compressed. You will also experience a stretch of the hamstrings, especially if you maintain the heels reaching away from the sits bones as you curl forward. Let the breath create the rhythm of the exercise, too, with each inhale and exhale you are squeezing every atom of air out of your lungs.
The Benefits of Spine Stretch Forward
· Decompression of the spine and release of tension in upper, mid and low back.
· Full capacious breathing to help circulate oxygen and blood to surrounding tissues.
· Satisfying stretch of the hamstrings and low back.
· Ability to stand taller and maintain better posture.
How to Perform Spine Stretch
Start by sitting up tall as if your back was against a wall. Legs should be out in front of you and opened about shoulder distance apart. Knees and toes will be pointed to ceiling and heels reaching away from you to create length and oppositional energy.
Lift your arms in front of you with finger tips reaching, palms down. Gently roll your shoulder blades down your back to create space between your neck and ears.
After a deep inhale, begin exhaling as you curl your head, neck and then upper spine down the imaginary wall while pulling your abs in. Continue to stretch forward as if you are curling over a round barrel towards your toes.
Next, inhale as you begin rolling back up the “wall” starting with your tailbone, low back, upper back and then neck and head returning to the starting position feeling taller than before.
We love Spine Stretch as it is a staple to any mat workout. It is also an exercise that is great to do right out of bed in the morning, when needing a break while working at your desk, or before bed for instant relief, relaxation and stretch. Stay tuned for more exercises and tips!