FITNESS FOCUS: Stretching for Strength Recently I read an article in Real Simple magazine about the benefits of stretching. The author stated that research has shown flexibility to actually improve one’s strength. How? According to the article, lengthening the muscle fibers while stretching create more surface area of the muscle…more muscle, more strength potential. Which brings us to our Pilates movement for today. This stretch will not only improve your flexibility in the chest, hip flexors, and quadriceps, but it also works to strengthen the abdominals and ALL of the muscles on the back of the body (glutes, hamstrings, lower back etc.)
Directions for SWAN:
Lie on the mat face down.Keep your arms close to your body as you bend your elbows to bring your hands under your shoulders. Shoulders should be back and down away from the ears Keep the legs shoulder-width apart, feet on the floor. Pull your belly button up away from the mat (navel to spine), keep the abs lifted throughout the exercise.
- Inhale: Lengthen your spine through the top of your head as you press your forearms and hands into the mat to support a long upward arc the upper body. The elbows are close to the body, the head stays in line with the spine, and the hips stay on the mat.
- Exhale: Keep your abdominals lifted as you lower back down to the mat slowly, lengthening your spine as you resist down.
- Repeat Swan 3 to 5 times using an even, flowing breath to support the movement.
FAITH FOCUS: Stretching for Strength In our quest to be strong in our faith, we must “stretch” ourselves in prayer, in action, in faith. As we seek to stand tall, in alignment with His Will for us, it may require some flexibility on our part. How is God asking you to stretch in order to strengthen your faith? As you seek to stand firm in your faith, remember to remain flexible in moving as God’s Holy Spirit flows through the movements of your daily life. With the flexibility to allow the Spirit to move, you will be firm and steady enough to withstand the twists and turns of life–engaging your strong CORE in CHRIST.
I stretch myself out. I sleep. Then I’m up again—rested, tall and steady—Psalm 3:5
Another time he went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there….Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”…. “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored.—Mark 3: 1-5