The extension on all fours is a low-impact, low-intensity exercise. It will improve your stability with an emphasis on core strength. It is also beneficial for strengthening shoulder and hip stabilizers.
It is a good idea to get someone to watch you practice this exercise or perform it in front of a mirror because the key to doing it correctly is to keep your back and hips aligned properly when you extend your opposite arm and leg.
You can easily do this exercise in your own home. I recommend practicing it at the start or end of your day to help realign your spine and postural muscles.
The exercise promotes postural awareness and lengthens the front and back of the hips. When we sit for long periods of time each day, which is the case for most of us, our hips remain in a flexed position. Therefore, it is important to do movements to counteract the sitting position and to lengthen the spine.
Start in a quadruped position. Your hands should be directly underneath your shoulders and your knees directly underneath your hips. Keep your spine straight and elongated.
Inhale to help stabilize your body and exhale as you extend your right arm and left leg away from your body while drawing your navel in.
Lower arm and leg back to the starting position and repeat on the other side.
Repeat this up to 10 times, alternating between the two sides.
When you extend your limbs away from your body, your back should remain straight. Be conscious of your spine alignment. It should not sink toward the floor or become round. It should remain in a neutral position.
When bringing their limbs back to the floor, people often want to round their spine or tip their hips. Be mindful not to do this.
This exercise is great at training you how to follow the principle of disassociation. This simply means one part of your body stays still and stable while another part moves. In this particular movement, you are disassociating from your shoulders and hips.
Imagine you have a piece of string gently pulling from your tailbone to the crown of your head. This will give you the sensation of elongating your spine. Keep your eye line about 8 inches out from your fingertips.
This exercise is also a great one to perform between sets of higher-intensity moves or higher-impact exercises. Some people like to recover between sets with a moderate movement. This is called active recovery.
This exercise is also just as good on its own. Practice it as often as possible for a straighter, stronger, and pain- free spine.
Emma-Kate Stampton certifies Pilates instructors and is a certified personal trainer. She is based in Brisbane, Australia.
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