Pilates Stretches and Beyond: the 5 Best Stretches You Can Do on the Reformer

The Pilates reformer is a great tool to build strength while working in correct alignment. It’s not only to increase strength and stability, you can also stretch on the machine. With the reformer you will find you can lengthen longer and stretch deeper, getting into the belly of your muscles to relieve tension.

5 Single thigh stretch

This is especially good for tight hip flexors occurring in people whose occupation keeps them at a desk. Start with the footbar one lower from the top forward with 2 heavy springs. Facing the footbar lunge with the right knee on the carriage, foot against the shoulder rest and the left with the ball of the foot on the foot bar, knee bent over the ankle. Sitting up straight place your hands on either side of the foot on the footbar. Exhale and press back with the right foot against the shoulder block extending through the hip then extend the left leg pressing into the footbar. Inhale to bend the left leg in. Repeat the stretch 5 times and switch to the other side.

4 Leg circles

Leg circles are a great hip opener. With 2 heavy springs, lay back on the carragine with your feet in the straps. Legs extended above the hips, heels together laterally rotating from the hips. Lower the legs down to the diagonal. Exhale open out to the sides abducting the legs and surrendering the weight of the legs to the straps as you circle the leg close at the top. The legs should be right above the hips. Repeat up to 10 times and reverse the direction of the circle.

3 Stag

Use this stretch for hamstrings, groin and quadriceps. With two heavy springs, lay back with your feet in the straps. Extend the legs on a diagonal. Keeping the heels together, bend the knees out, but don’t let the knees come in past the hips. Extend the right leg out to the side then turn the left toe down the floor, letting it hang off the side of the machine. Bend the left leg deeper to increase the stretch in both legs. Stay for a few breaths and repeat on the other side.

2 Elephant

If you need to lengthen your hamstrings and Achilles this is a stretch you should add to your practice. With the footbar all the way at the top, use one or two heavy springs. Both hands hold onto the footbar as you stand on the carriage heels against the shoulder rests. Round your back up and press your heels back slightly and release in.

1 Short Spine

Might be a little intimidating at first, but it’s an excellent stretch for the lower back. With two heavy springs, make sure the headrest is down as you will be lifting your hips. Lay on your back and put your feet in the straps. Legs straight and together, lower down on a diagonal for the starting position in a neutral spine. On an inhale, hinge the legs at the hips allowing the carriage to draw into the stopper. When you cannot stretch your legs any closer, exhale beginning to peel your hips, the vertebrae coming up off the carriage like a string of pearls. As your hips lift up the carriage will reach the stopper, pressing into the straps, lift the tailbone higher to the sky coming onto your shoulders. Do not crush your neck. On an inhale, keep the heels together as you draw your knees out the side to a frog position. Exhale, keeping your heels still in space and lower your back down, like a string of pearls being lowered onto a table. Feel the lengthening of the lower back. Once the hips touch the mat, inhale bringing your feet to your seat and exhale and extend the legs on the diagonal.

Stretching is an important part of working out. It increases blood flow and circulation as well as increasing flexibility and keeping your body even on both sides for good posture. Make sure to breathe through each stretch to get good blood flow to the muscle.

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