Have you noticed that in colder weather your body feels stiffer and more restricted? We often hold our bodies in more tense postures when we are cold and then coupled with less activity over winter, muscles tend to seize up. This can lead to aches and pains particularly in the neck, shoulders and back.
Physio Pilates Proactive’s founder, Principal Physiotherapist and Pilates Instructor Rachel Combe recommends the following Pilates stretches to keep those muscular niggles at bay.
Keeping your chin tucked in, gently pull your head towards your shoulder. Feel the stretch on the opposite side of your neck. Hold for 15 seconds breathing steadily.
Interlace your hands behind you and stretch your arms straight. Feel the stretch across your chest.
Standing tall, slowly roll your spine down vertebrae by vertebrae until your fingertips touch the floor (bend your knees if you need to). Breathe in at the bottom, and then slowly roll back up on the exhale.
Lie on your side with a pillow under your head, your legs bent up to 90 degrees and your arms stretched out in front of you. Breathe in as you reach your top hand up to the ceiling, and exhale as it keeps reaching behind you. Reverse to return to the start. This is a great one to rotate a stiff rib cage!
Lie on your back with your knees bent up. Cross one ankle over the opposite knee. Thread your hands through and pull your leg towards your chest. Feel the stretch in the buttock on the side that you are crossing the ankle. Hold for 30-60 seconds, breathing steadily into the stretch. A brilliant stretch to loosen up the hips.
Lie on your tummy with your hands positioned just below shoulder level. Slowly curl up the spine until your elbows are fully extended. You’ll feel this stretch in your lower back. Do 5-6 times. Try and do this daily, particularly if you do a lot of sitting/driving during the day.
These are really simple stretches that can be done each day. Your body will thank you for it.
For a more comprehensive effect, try to go to a Pilates or Yoga class once or twice a week to maintain mobility in all of your muscles and joints.