September 25, 2018

Pull up a chair for pilates

Here are three simple exercises you can do anywhere simply using a chair. Try this five-minute routine in the morning with a kitchen chair, or during the workday with a stable desk chair. 

1. Quad stretch

This gentle, standing quad stretch targets your front thigh muscles and your hamstrings, and helps keep your glutes high and tight.

Stand behind a chair with your feet hip-width apart and hold on to the back of the chair. Contract your abdominal muscles, then bend one knee, bringing your heel toward your lower back. Hold for several seconds before lowering your leg back to the ground. 

Repeat several times on each side, making sure to keep your abdominal muscles contracted. 

2. Supported side stretch

This exercise stretches your oblique muscles, which connect your abdominal muscles to your back. It helps keep these muscles in balance and connected, and opens up the back to avoic spasms.

Stand arms-length behind the chair with feet shoulder-width apart, your right hip closest to the chair and your right hand resting on the back of the chair. Raise your left arm over your head, and stretch up and over toward your right. Hold your peak stretch for 10 to 20 seconds. 

Repeat several times on each side.

3. Strengthening hamstrings and opening back

This exercise strengthens your hamstrings and opens up your back, which benefits your glutes and lower back.

Sit up straight in the chair with feet shoulder-width apart and knees bent naturally. Using both hands, grab underneath your right knee and lift the thigh toward your chest. Straighten the right leg until your toes point directly upward. Raise your leg as far as possible without straining. 

Continue to hold underneath your knee for support and point your toes, then flex your foot. 

Lower your right leg, and repeat two more times with the same leg. On the third repetition, move your hands up toward your ankle. Again, point your toes, flex your foot, and then lower leg. 

Place your right ankle on your left knee so that your right knee is pointed out to the right. Slowly bend forward, allowing your back to round over. Hold for a few seconds.

Repeat routine several times on each side.