Contrary to the perception that Pilates is better suited for women, it can be an amazing workout for men too.
As Pilates includes all the factors of physical movement, such as strength, posture, balance, breathing and flexibility, the exercise can be suitable for women and men alike.
Pilates Stretching Exercises For Men
If you have a desk job or are into lifting heavy weights, Pilates stretching exercises can benefit your overall workout routine by enhancing your core strength, improving your posture and increasing your entire mobility and flexibility.
On that note, here's a look at six pilates stretching exercises for men.
1) Spine Stretch
One of the best stretches for the hamstring and back muscles, the spine stretch also helps prepare your body to perform more challenging exercises.
To do it:
- Sit up straight, and extend your legs at a shoulder-width distance.
- Keep your feet flexed and extend your neck.
- Keep your shoulders relaxed, and pull your waist inward.
- Extend both your arms in front of you, and keep your palms down.
- As you exhale, extend your spine in a large curve forward. Make sure to keep your legs straight and tight during the stretch.
- Go as far as possible before returning to the starting position.
- Lead into the movement with your lower back, followed by the mid-back and upper back.
Swan is basically a back extension exercise in pilates that offers a great stretch for several flexion exercises. It stretches the hip flexors and abdominal muscles and strengthens the shoulders, back, hamstrings and inner thighs.
To do it:
- Lie on a matl keep your arms close, and bend your elbows to reach your hands under the shoulders.
- Engage your core muscles, and lift your belly. Lengthen your spine, and press your hands and forearms into the floor to maintain a long arch in the upper body.
- Make sure your head is in line with your spine, and your hips are on the mat.
- Exhale while keeping your abdomen lifted, and release the arc by returning to your original position.
3) Wall Roll Down
The wall roll down helps stretch both the hamstring and the back.
To do it:
- Stand straight against a wall, and place your feet at least six to eight inches away from the wall.
- Engage your abdominal muscles; keep your arms straight on your sides, and make sure your shoulders are away from your ears.
- Drop your head, and start to roll your spine down from the wall. As you continue to roll down, inhale, and pull your abs in.
- As you exhale, return to the wall by doing the roll up with your lower abdominal muscles.
- Come to the starting position, and be sure to engage your abs throughout the movement.
4) Reclined Hip Stretch
A reclined hip stretch is an easy Pilates stretching exercise that targets the outside muscles of your hips.
To do it:
- Lie on your back, and keep your knees bent, feet flat and spine in a neutral position.
- Bend your left knee till your thigh gets perpendicular to the ground.
- Bring your right knee up while rotating your right leg outward to your hip. As you do that, rest your right ankle on your left thigh above your knee.
- Extend your left hand outside your left thigh, and reach your right hand through the opening your crossed right leg has made. Hold your hands behind your left thigh.
- Press your right thigh with your right elbow, and simultaneously pull your left thigh towards your chest. Feel the stretch outside your right hip.
This stretching exercise allows for a trunk rotation that creates a strong stretch on the back extensors. Moreover, it also helps stretch the hamstrings and hip flexors.
To do it:
- Sit on a mat, and extend your legs forward. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart, and extend both your arms to the side palms facing forward.
- As you inhale, twist to your left, and turn your whole torso while keeping your hips stable and firmly in place.
- Maintain an erect posture while doing that.
- As you exhale, lean forward, and touch the little toe of your left foot with the outside of your right hand and vice versa.
- Maintain your position, and return to the start.
6) Chest Lifts with Rotation
This exercise targets your entire abdominal muscles, including the rectus abdominis, transverse abdominus and obliques, while allowing you to rotate from side to side and maintain a contraction.
To do it:
- Begin the movement by lying on your back.
- Rest your head on your hands, and relax your neck.
- As you exhale, lift your shoulder off the ground while making sure the lift is initiated by your abdominal muscles and not your neck.
- Maintain the position at the top, and twist your upper body from one side to another.
The aforementioned Pilates stretching exercises should help you improve your flexibility and make you better at everyday activities. You can perform them at the beginning of your workout session or for a deeper stretch later in your routine.