Thigh Stretch on the Pilates Reformer can be done with or without the back extension at the end. When you first begin doing this exercise try it out on the Cadillac and Mat first. Then even if you are doing the back bend on the Cadillac practice the Thigh Stretch only a few times before challenging yourself with the Backbend. The carriage is a moving piece and can really change how it feels. Thigh Stretch sounds like it's all stretch but the amount of strength you need to do this exercise is incredible. Your legs, center and back will need to be all systems on deck!
Use your back and legs to move the carriage open and close.
Place three springs on your Reformer and kneel on your carriage with your knees up again the shoulder blocks. Hold onto your straps at the studs or just above on leather straps. If using ropes walk, your hands up to a place that allows your arms to really reach forward from your back with the straps taught. The heavy springs should make it so you cannot use your arms to move the carriage. Pressing your legs into your carriage lean back as far as you can continue to reach down in your legs. Then press your shins into the carriage and reach your arms forward to close the spring. Repeat 3-5 times.
If the first reps are going well and you are not hanging off your arms or letting the springs, bring you home and you have been adding the backbend to your Thigh Stretch on the Cadillac add it in here. First, lean back just as you did for the first few reps. Then holding the carriage still, press down into your legs and find a backbend in your upper back. To come back up return back to your Thigh Stretch and then lift yourself back up and close the spring.
Be sure to check out more of my online Pilates Reformer exercises. I want to help you continue your Pilates Reformer training!