We made it home late last night and it was one of the most relaxing vacations I’ve had in a long time. Much needed! More on that coming soon, but for today let’s talk Pilates again.
After discussing the benefits of Pilates for runners (and ALL women), I had a few requests for simple exercises that could be done at home.
Obviously we can’t all make it to a 1-hour class every week, or several times a week. I know I can’t! You can easily add some of these exercises to the end of your workout, 2-3 times a week.
Here are 6 exercises to work your core and help to strengthen your pelvic floor that you can do at home:
There are two variations for leg lifts:
Side lying leg lifts– Lie on your side and keep your leg straight. Reach up to point your toe toward the ceiling and then slowly lower again to your ankle and repeat 10-15 times and then switch sides.
Double Leg lifts
From your back, keeping your head and shoulders on the floor, lift both legs together coming straight up to form a perpendicular line to your back, then lower with control and repeat 10-15 times. (If you are pregnant, choose the side leg lifts rather than lying flat on your back).
From your back, bring your neck and shoulders off the floor and lift your legs up into the air, keeping them straight (don’t bend your knees). You can raise them high (45 degree angle or greater) or for a more challenging move, keep them closer to the ground. Hold your legs steady and pump your arms, counting quickly to 100 (about 30 seconds to one minute total hold).
From a similar position as the Hundred (head and shoulders off the mat, legs straight and off the mat), bring one straight leg up at a time toward your chest, pulse for a count and switch sides. Repeat for about 20 scissor kicks.
Lie on your back with bent knees and ankles lined up under the knees. Slowly press your hips up to make a straight line from your shoulders to knees and hold briefly then slowly release. Tap the ground but don’t rest at the bottom and go right into the next press up. Repeat for about 30 seconds.
For more of a challenge, cross one ankle across the oppositite knee and do 20 per side.
This is a yoga move, but Pilates incorporates it as well. From table top position (hands under shoulders and knees under hips on all fours), arch your back and raise your head as you inhale, then round your back and drop your neck as you exhale. Repeat 12-20 times. (It is also fantastic for pregnancy and can help to move the baby into the right position for delivery).
This is not necessarily a “Pilates” move but it is a fantastic functional move for the pelvic floor. It can be done by adding squats to a workout, but it can also be as simple as squatting to pick something up off the floor, rather then bending over. If you’re a mom, you can probably find dozens of times throughout the day to use this move.
If you’re pregnant, you should also attempt a deeper squat and hold for 10-30 seconds once a day to prepare your body for labor. Squatting is also a fantastic birthing position! It naturally opens the pelvis 10% more than lying on your back, and gravity assists in pulling the baby down. But it helps to have the strength to hold yourself up, or you won’t last very long.
Do you incorporate some or all of these exercises?
Do you attend Pilates classes?