Down Stretch on the Reformer
Down Stretch on the Pilates Reformer is typically the second exercise in the Long Stretch series. Done on two springs this is a great exercise open up your front and strengthen your back. You’ll want to swing out and let the springs bring you in but if you can find the reach into your shoulder blocks from your seat and oppose that with the openness in your chest by connecting your arms to your back it may become one of your favorite extension exercise. Try flowing into this exercise by bending both knees to the carriage simultaneously from your Long Stretch exercise as you open your chest. Then place your feet into the shoulder blocks. This will be allow you to take what you learned in the Long Stretch and thread it into what you will do in the Down Stretch.
Channel your Pulling straps to find the beauty of Down Stretch.
With your feet in your shoulder rests and your hands on the footbar (thumbs with your fingers) open your chest and lift the crown of your head towards the ceiling. Press the carriage away with your heels and your seat as you reach your heart forward. To return, press your heels back into the blocks and resist the carriage home. You’ll be tempted to drop your head or hang in your lower back. But, keep the opposition of this exercise in mind! Crown of your head and heels pulling away from each other. Repeat the out and in 2-4 more times.
To avoid hanging in your lower back pull your stomach in and reach your tailbone towards the carriage. It may feel like you are “tucking” but you will simply be keeping length in your lower back. If your elbows tend to hyperextend remind yourself to soften and connect your shoulders to your back. As you press out it’s from the legs and the pulling in comes from the back instead of the shoulders. Something that will take time to understand. But, if you channel your Pulling straps then you’ll be on your way to finding the beauty of Down Stretch.