A stronger midsection can help relieve and prevent back pain as well as injury. It's a good habit to get into that is never too late to start!
One of the reasons Pilates is so effective is because it trains the deep abdominal muscles such as the transverse abdominis. Regular ab exercises like crunches are, in some ways, only “skin deep” as they train the superficial 6-pack muscles the rectus abdominis, which do not support the spine as much as the deeper ones.
No one can deny that lifting and lowering the legs while laying on the back is an easy task, and that is what this exercise sets out to do. Lie on your back with your legs extended to a 90-degree angle. Keep your back and hips glued to the floor as you lower the legs on an inhale and use your exhale to lift them back up.
From the same position on the back, lift your hips off the mat using your lower belly on an exhale and lower back down with control as you inhale. Keep your legs glued together.
Adding on from the Lower Ab Lift, begin to circle your legs to the right side and then scoop them up back to center. Reverse the circle. Add in a Lower Ab Lift for more of a challenge each time the legs come back to center.
Bend your knees into your chest and curl your head to your knees. Scoop the belly down away from the thighs and on an inhale, reach your arms and legs out to a 45-degree angle. On your exhale, circle the arms around and hug the knees back into the chest.
Extend your legs to a 45-degree angle and reach your arms up to the sky. Begin to roll up as you inhale and slowly as you exhale, continue to peel the spine off the mat until you come to a V-sit position with the arms reaching toward the legs. Keep the legs glued together and in the air. Begin to slowly roll back as you inhale and continue that roll as you exhale completely down through the spine. Make sure you are able to perform a basic Roll Down first before attempting this exercise.
Bring yourself up to a seated position for this next exercise. Lower onto your forearms and bend your knees so that the feet come off the floor. Extend the legs straight out and then circle them together to the right and then reverse that circle. This is like the Corkscrew but seated. Make sure you have the Corkscrew mastered before attempting this exercise.
Stay seated after your last Teaser and lower the legs to the floor. Open them up as wide as your mat and spread your arms out to a T-position. Keep the feet flexed and legs anchored into the floor so the hips stay square. On an inhale, rotate to the right, twisting from waist. Exhale and return to the center and repeat on the other side. Wring out the obliques each time that you twist.
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