Pilates Tool Kit

We spend too much of our precious time sitting on our backsides. Whether we’re at our computers for hours, updating our Facebook status for the 23rd time, or watching television, or playing chauffeur to overly stimulated children, we are not doing our asses a service.

Our bodies were meant for movement and we are becoming, if we haven’t already, a mostly sedentary society. It is estimated that given the time that we are laying down sleeping, sitting while we eat, as well as the above examples mentioned, we spend a third of our time sitting or lying down.

This sedentary lifestyle affects our blood flow, can lead to obesity, and is terribly cruel on our postures. In spite of the fact that I am a Pilates instructor and I work standing up, there are plenty of hours in the day where I am on my ass, or flat on my back. I’ve found some easy ways to offset these negative effects of inactivity that I believe everyone can and should do.

First we have to have the tools to make the behavioral changes possible and easy. Invest the two to three dollars (or less) in a Theraband, also known as exercise band, or exercise tubing. You can find these online or in a local sporting goods store. The different colors correspond to the levels of resistance.

The bands are portable and can be carried in a purse or kept in a desk drawer. These easy exercises and stretches can be done standing at your desk. Grab the band at either end and lift your arms overhead. Keeping light tension on the band, side bend over to your right, keeping the space between your arms the same throughout the side bend. Use your core and try not to pop your ribcage out. Hold for 30 seconds, and switch sides.

Like the bands, another portable and cheap prop is a children’s bouncy ball for rolling out your feet. A tennis ball is too soft because it’s hollow. You want to find a ball that has a solid middle.

Place the ball on the floor. You can hold onto a chair, or any stable surface for support. Step onto the ball with one foot and roll the ball up and down the length of your foot. Go slow, so you can feel the tight spots. When you come upon one, put a bit more pressure down onto the ball and breathe. Roll the ball from side to side. Repeat on the other foot. This is great if you wear high heels, have bunions, or high or low arches.

Now that you’re standing, using your bands and balls, it’s time to stretch out your hip flexors. These muscles get short and tight when we sit for long periods of time and will start to ache if you don’t lengthen them.

Stand with your right leg in front of you, left leg extended behind you. Start to bend your right leg, as you press your hips forward. Gently squeeze your left glute (ass cheek) and tuck your pelvis underneath you. You should feel a stretch in the front of your left hip. And as always, scoop your navel back to your spine. Hold for 30 seconds and switch legs.

If you must sit, the best thing you can do for yourself is to get up every 30-60 minutes and stretch. Move and stretch. The bands and balls will hopefully make it more interesting and fun. Use google for more exercise examples. But stand up and google it.

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