What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of flexibility? If you’re like most folks I speak to every week, you immediately pictured the toe reach stretch we all had to endure in P.E as kids. Did you know that flexibility encompasses so much more than just the ability to touch your toes?
Flexibility in the lower body
Pilates is a dynamic movement practice. This means that we do not hold stretches for long moments of time during a session. Rather, stretches are incorporated into every movement sequence dynamically. For example, most office workers and commuters have tight and weak hamstring muscles as well as hip flexor muscles due to the long hours of sitting every day. The first thing you may notice is that you can’t touch your toes, but perhaps what you didn’t realize is that what you may need first is to actually strengthen these weakened and tight muscle groups. In Pilates strengthening exercises are paired with lengthening exercises that help the muscle extend to its full range. Over time you notice that not only are you getting stronger, but you are also less “tight”.
Flexibility in the upper body
Flexibility is equally important for the upper body as it is for the legs and hips. In Pilates we often work with clients who have a limited range of motion in their shoulders. We also see a lot of clients who have difficulty rotating in the trunk of their body. Some of these issues come from over use. Shoulder injuries can happen while playing sports, for example. And as most of our modern lives is spent sitting at desks or devices, we generally don’t practice movements that include side bending or twisting in our spines. Over time we begin to lose these abilities that help us maintain flexibility in our spines. A flexible and strong spine is the foundation to happy and healthy living.
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