Whether you’ve got a summer Friday to look forward to or not, there’s no denying that mid-week, stress levels tend to peak. It’s the perfect time to carve out a few minutes to treat yourself to a moment of stretching and relaxation, and what better way to do that than through Pilates? The combination of floor work, stretching, and a rigorous workout is the cure for what ails you.
For a few pointers on how to de-stress and unwind after office hours, we turned to the chicest Pilates instructor we know, Heather Andersen, owner of the beautiful New York Pilates in the West Village. Taking her background in classical and contemporary dance and partnering it with her certification from the Kane School for Core Integration, Gyrotonic National Headquarters, Heather knows best when it comes to both Pilates and yoga. She walked us through the perfect back-to-basics floor routine to counteract those work-induced knots and kinks.
Lying on your stomach, extend your arms and rest them on a foam roller. Slowly raise your upper body, keeping your arms straight and extended. Rise as far as is comfortable.
“Spinal extension is essential to undo the office neck. This stretch promotes healthy posture by strengthening your upper back, which helps you stand straighter and reduces computer-related discomfort.”
“Be sure to keep your shoulders down, away from your ears and abdominals pulled in. I recommend 15 sets.”
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Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Press your hips up toward the ceiling, rising off the floor and maintaining a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. Optional: while in bridge, raise one foot toward the ceiling.
“Bridging is excellent for hamstring and butt strength. After sitting all day, it’s very important to reinforce those muscles so that they retain their firmness and structure. Be sure to tuck your hips under to increase the work in your glutes and keep strain out of your lower back.”
“When you extend one leg, it increases the work in the standing leg. Be sure to keep your hips level. Hold the first bridge for 60 seconds, then alternate extending one leg at a time. Hold for 30 seconds on each leg.”
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Keeping your body aligned in a straight line from your head to your heels, rise off the floor, resting on either your forearms or hands. Keep the hips tucked under and abdominal muscles engaged.
“Planking is an excellent full-body exercise. When performed on your forearms, it focuses the work on your core muscles, including your lats and rotator cuff. When performed on your hands, it uses more arm strength.”
“Be sure to actively engage your abdominals and tuck your hips under to keep pressure out of the lower back. Hold for 60 seconds on the forearms, then 60 seconds on the hands.”
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Resting on one forearm and lying on your side, stack your feet one on top of the other. Raise your hips off the floor, being careful to maintain alignment through your spine. Raise your opposite arm toward the ceiling. Optional: rotate your raised arm and shoulders around toward the floor while keeping your hips pointed forward. This rotation will further engage the obliques.
“Side planking focuses on your lats, obliques and glutes. Be sure to lift your body up off of your arm, which brings your shoulder blades wide and apart on your back for shoulder safety.”
“Adding the rotation is an excellent way to challenge your obliques and stability. Hold the side plank for 30 seconds, then add 10 slow rotations.”
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