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Pilates Matwork – Double Leg Kick Exercise to Improve Hamstring Strength & Spine Extension

Posted Sep 06 2011 12:06pm

Improve Hip Extension & Hamstring Strength, Pelvic Placement, Spine Extension, Plus Arm & Shoulder Motion for a Great Whole-Back-of-the-Body Exercise with the Pilates Mat exercise: Double Leg Kick.

Click here to view the embedded video.

The focus for the exercises I’ve shared lately  is Hip Extension.  However, anytime you start analyzing any Pilates exercise, there’s always the realization that you’re always working the whole body, not just one part or piece!  There’s always so much to think about!

I could probably do at least 20 different videos and blog posts on this (and every exercise) to detail ALL of the things to pay attention to.  Our “theme” today with the Double Leg Kick  is the hips and hamstrings – so we’ll put most of the focus and emphasis on what the lower body is doing. But that’s not a license to completely forget about your head, neck, shoulders, and upper spine!

  1. Begin lying on your stomach with the tip of the nose on the mat.
  2. Legs together, parallel with the inner thighs squeezing.
  3. Lengthen the tailbone to the heels, zip the low belly up to support the back, and squeeze the Glutes to stabilize the lengthened lower back and pelvis.
  4. If you have good shoulders, the hands grab behind the back, bend the elbows to bring the hands up as high as possible between the shoulder blades, and then drop the elbows out towards the floor to stretch the shoulders & arms.

I think one of the most challenging things to do when working on hamstring strength is to stabilize the pelvis and keep the work in the hamstrings and out of the lower back!

Getting the right muscles engaged to prep the pelvis position is a great start.  Then they have to stay engaged while you bend the knees.

Strive to keep the front of the pubic bone and front tops of the thighs pressing firmly against the mat while you do a triple kick with both legs.  If your back arches and there’s space under the front of your hips when your knees bend, you’re using your back muscles more than your hamstrings.  The goal for me is a strong, stable back and pelvis, with all the movement from the knee joint.

Done well…  the triple kick will strengthen the hamstrings along the back of the thighs, and stretch the quads along the front of the legs.

There are 3 aspects to the Hamstring muscle – outer, medial, and inner muscles.  The outer aspect is generally the strongest, so you’ll find it easier to triple kick with your knees apart rather than together.

Keeping your inner thighs squeezing to keep the legs together will help you strengthen the weaker inner portion of the hamstrings.  For many people the hamstrings are weak and tight which is a bad combination for knee health!  And if the outer portion of the hamstrings are strong, and inner portion weak, it affects our ability to bend at the knee joint with proper mechanics and alignment.  Strengthening the whole back of the leg is critical to avoid knee pain.  And this is a great exercise to incorporate into your workout program to help stabilize your pelvis and strengthen your Hamstrings.

Hope you’ve enjoyed learning more about the Double Leg Kick with today’s Pilates Exercise Tip!  If you have any questions or suggestions for topics you’d like to know more about – drop me a comment here on my blog, or visit me on my Facebook fan page at http://www.Facebook.com/Centerworks/

Enjoy healthy hips, happy knees, and a wonderful chest opening, back strengthening moment by adding the Double Leg Kick exercise into your Pilates Mat workouts!

More soon…  Have a Great Day!

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