GIRL TALK

Stretching is Like a Yawn for the Body

It’s the age-old question every girl, no matter how fit or disciplined you are, has asked at one point or another, “Why does working out have to be so hard?”  You don’t have to work out like a crazy person to get the results you want.  Yes, it’s important to sweat, or should I say sparkle with dew, but I don’t believe in pushing yourself to exhaustion. The key to stealth strengthening, is stretching—which warms the joints and promotes flexibility so that your muscles can work in their full range of motion. Here are some go-to moves for stretching and covert toning and is great as a warm up before exercise. Not only do these moves lengthen and strengthen to give that longer, leaner look, but you release stress and tension.  It’s really a release both physically and emotionally. Each exercise should be done slowly and steadily to get the optimal stretch and strength.

The Roll Up

The Roll Up

The Roll Up

This classic Pilates move stretches out the spine, hamstrings, and lower back while targeting the abs (it’s been said that one roll up is the equivalent of six regular sit-ups). Start by lying down on your back with your arms and legs extended in opposite directions, stretching your body as long as possible. Make sure your ribs and spine are pushed down into the floor, then tuck your chin into your chest and slowly roll up, one vertebrae at a time, pulling your stomach in and moving into a forward bend. Roll back down—with control. Slow, steady and with conviction. Repeat 10 times.

The Straight Leg Stretch

Straight Leg Stretch

Straight Leg Stretch

This Pilates mat exercise stretches the backs of the legs while working the upper abdominal’s and hips. Begin by lying on your back with your legs extended straight out in front of you, arms along your sides, shoulders away from your ears, and your ribs and spine pushed down into the surface. Curl your head, then your shoulders, then your upper body into a C-curve off the floor. Raise your right leg up straight over your chest and grab your right ankle or calf, pulling your straight leg towards you while your left leg hovers a couple of inches off the floor. Keep your legs straight throughout this exercise to stabilize the core muscles, and switch legs by scissoring them—before repeating on the other side. Again, this is done slowly and steadily. Repeat 10 times on each leg.

Legs Overhead

Legs Overhead

Legs Overhead

This classic mat sequence move—which stretches the spine, lengthens the hamstrings, and works the entire trunk—is pretty advanced, as it requires a lot of control. Begin by lying on your back with your legs extended straight out in front of you, arms along your sides, shoulders away from your ears, and ribs and spine pushed down into the floor. On an inhalation, lift your legs off the floor and over your head until they’re parallel with the floor. Stay off of your neck by keeping your weight across the top of your back and shoulders, then—if you can—let your feet drop toes to the floor. Keep your legs hip-width apart and slowly roll back down to your starting position one vertebra at a time, using your abdominal muscles. Slowly, steadily and make sure to keep your lower back glued to the floor for support. Repeat 10 times.

I find these stretching/strengthening exercises very important.  If possible, it’s something that you should do everyday. For me, it gets the blood flowing, my heart rate up and prepares me for whatever practice I choose to do for the day. I call it my Practice Du Jour!

Turn It On and Look Fab!  You Are Ageless!

Juetta West

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