5 Beginner Stretches With the Flexistretcher to Add to Your Holiday Routine

Get your stretch on as you dive into the holiday hustle & bustle. From carrying bags to waiting in lines, prevent sore, achy muscles with a proper stretch routine. 

TRY THESE 5 BEGINNER STRETCHES WITH THE FLEXISTRETCHER 

 

 

10 Reasons the Flexistretcher Makes the Perfect Gift!

What makes the Flexistretcher top the holiday wish lists of dancers & athletes everywhere?  

Here are 10 reasons the Flexistretcher makes the perfect gift this holiday season:

  1. The Flexistretcher is a researched approach to strength & flexibility training. The inventor of the Flexistretcher is former ballerina and fitness enthusiast Rachel Hamrick, who developed the product after a devastating injury put her dance career on hold. Her invention is a combination of training methods, researched technologies and measured resistance for the most efficient & effective flexibility & strength workout. 

  2. It is a facilitated stretching technique that safely stretches while strengthening muscle groups. While working with a Flexistretcher, a facilitated stretching technique is applied, allowing the user to ‘actively stretch’—engaging isometric contractions through out the stretch to achieve greater flexibility.

  3. It is a multi-purpose training tool. The Flexistretcher’s size & shape allows it to be used in full body stretches (such as a ballet arabesque), but it can also be adjusted to target specific, smaller body parts (such as shoulders or hamstrings). 

  4. It's widely used & preferred by the professionals. The Flexistretcher is the professional dancer's tool of choice for strength & flexibility training.  It can be found in the dance bags of ballerinas in a number of esteemed companies, including American Ballet Theatre, StaatsBallett Berlin, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Dutch National Ballet and Royal Danish Ballet, to name a few. 

  5. The Flexistretcher doesn't allow you to cheat the movement. Utilizing the elastic allows for a variable resistance, not relying on gravity and promoting muscle activation throughout the exercise.

  6. It creates a more efficient yet effective workout. As the strap is stretches the resistance increases, the muscles are challenged to respond with increased effort which promotes muscle growth, strength and power. 

  7. It's the only stretching strap you'll need for a while. Built to withstand the daily use of professional dancers and athletes, the Flexistretcher’s sturdy construction and custom designed parts are guaranteed to last!  

  8. It goes perfect with other FLX products. The Flexistretcher can be purchased as a part of the FLX Ballet Conditioning Package - a bundle of portable, durable training tools to target all areas of the body.  Give yourself an abomdinal boost and enhance foot strength with the FLX Ball, or roll out muscle groups after a workout with FLX massage. 

  9. The Flexistretcher isn't just a tool for dancers.  It is used to enhance training programs in a variety of sports & fitness routines - from synchronized swimming & gymnastics, to yoga, Pilates & soccer! 

  10. Did you know you can become certified in FLX training methods? Whether a yogi, ballerina or fitness enthusiast, you are now able to learn the researched, scientific approach to working with the Flexistretcher & other FLX products by attending the regional training program!  For application details and upcoming training information, email admin@flxnyc.com. 

 

Single Leg Hip Lifts with the Flexistretcher

Practice this series of Single Leg Hip Lifts with your Flexistretcher!

SETUP:

Lying supine with your legs bent feet flat on the floor, hip distance apart. Place the Flexistretcher center pad around your right shin and grab nylon straps in each hand. Arms are long close by your sides and pulling the elastic center to a slight tension.

ACTION:

  • With control, curl your hips off the ground, feeling your knees move towards your toes.
  • Hold the position and slowly articulate the spine to the floor, returning to your starting position.
Single leg lift

REPS:

  • Hip lifts 5 reps.
  • Heel lifts 5 reps.
  • Hip lifts with heel lifted 5 reps.

SETS: Repeat single leg series 3-5 times on each leg.

CUES:

  • Keep leg parallel and engage back of the leg to lift.
  • Keep feet parallel [Dancers watch out for the external rotation to take over!]
  • Knees line up over toes
  • Arms stay hugged in by your sides.
  • Head stays in line. [Do not turn head side to side]

When adding this exercise to your routine remember the principal of overload. Jacqui Green Haas supports the idea of keeping in mind this principal in order to increase strength.  Greene Haas asserts:

“If you want to increase strength, you must continue to work the targeted muscle group past your normal load. The exercises are executed at maximal contraction throughout the entire range of motion.”

These exercises require less repetitions since the muscle is targeted and experiences more resistance-working the muscles to a fatigue.

In addition, it is important to remember that  all exercises require control through the full range of movement. Initiating movement with momentum does not allow for experiencing the full physical benefits of the exercise. Allowing gravity or loss of awareness to finish the movement can also bring negative results. Begin each exercise with a slow, precise control and maintain that control throughout the movement.

Bicycle with your FLX Ball

The Bicycle is an exercise that both works on stabilizing the core and coordination. It is valuable to train coordination and gain a greater sense of proprioception states the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science.  Proprioception is a sense that is more than just a feeling of movement. It is intimately tied to our feeling of muscle tone, perceptions of effort and of balance.  Specialized nerve endings originate in our muscles, fascia, tendons, ligaments, joints, and some scientists even include the skin.

Flexibility exercises should be incorporated into dance-specific training with real space-time values in order to gain greater proprioception. Such exercises, like the bicycle, include making sure to achieve motor programming through repetition of goal-directed movements. In these movements dancers utilize multiple degrees of freedom to stimulate different neuromuscular pathways. In other words, practice a variety of moving positions, taking all muscles from full shortening to full lengthening, and returning to the neutral resting length of the muscles and joints during an embedded rest period (constructive rest).

Something as simple as the bicycle can really make a difference in your overall coordination!

SETUP: Lying supine on the floor, place the FLX Ball under your sacrum at your lower spine. Legs are bent with feet flat on the floor and arms are long by your sides with palms face down.  

ACTION:

  1. Lift one leg to tabletop then the other and extend both legs straight up towards the ceiling.
  2. Begin by lowering one leg and then bend it in, feeling heel pull towards your sitz-bone,and straighten leg up towards the ceiling.
  3. As the first leg bend in, begin the same movement pattern with other leg.
  4. Keep switching legs as if you are riding a big bicycle.
  5. Repeat 10 to 15 times

To finish, bend both legs in towards you and rest feet on the floor.

Finding the C-Curve for an Effective Abdominal Workout

The C-Curve position is used in a variety of abdominal-focused exercises. Understanding how to find the position aids in the effectiveness of an exercise; thus, achieving maximum results. The FLX Ball helps to achieve correct alignment in this position and working against the instability of the ball's surface forces the muscles to respond with increased effort for a quicker, more efficient workout. 

Here are some key tips and cues when performing abdominal-focused exercises in a c-curve position:

FINDING A C-CURVE POSITION

  1. Sit on your sitz bones with your legs bent and feet flat on the floor. 
  2. Take the FLX Ball and place it at your lower spine.  
  3. Rock off your sitz bones, creating a C-Curve, while maintaining contact with the FLX Ball.  
  4. Place your hands behind your thighs to assist in creating the C-Curve.  

 CUES

  • Concentrate on activating your abdominal muscles.
  • Emphasize your abdominals.  While maintaining the flexion of the upper spine, tuck the pelvis in a posterior tilt and sink the abdominals in.  Use the FLX Ball to assist in the deepening of the curve of the spine.
  • Feel your ribs “fold over” your stomach.  
  • This is an active working position rather than a static resting pose.  Feel your navel constantly pull in and up.  At the same time, you are working to fold forward, feeling a scooping or rounding position of the spine.  
  • Breathe into your spine to complete the curve and assist in hollowing out the abdominals.

Pilates Teaser

This exercise requires coordination, balance, flexibility and control to perform correctly and successfully.  The body often compensates for some weakness to complete the movement and engages incorrect form and muscle activation. Weakness in the hip flexors or tight hamstrings and lower back can hinder the progression in this movement.

Try completing this exercise with the Flexistretcher by utilizing it’s elastic resistance to guide you through the complete movement, allowing full concentration on correct muscle activation and alignment.


Joseph Pilates named this exercise "The Teaser" because it teases gravity. So true!

Try these variations of the Pilates teaser for an added instability and challenge to the exercise.


PILATES TEASER WITH THE FLEXISTRETCHER

SET UP: Lie down supine with the foam pad around the soles of your feet and the loops in your hands, with the legs pressed long and glued together. Arms are slightly bent with palms facing you pulling the straps to small tension.

ACTION: Begin by lifting your head up, pulling the straps towards you.

  • Peel the spine off the floor as you simultaneously lift the legs to a high diagonal. Arms finish out by your sides with palms facing back, pressing into the straps.
  • Balancing on your sit bones, deepen out the abdominals, as you press into the straps to maintain a long spine. Hold for 10 counts.
  • Fold the elbows in by your sides as you begin to articulate the spine to the floor slowly lowering your legs to the starting position.

SETS: 5

LEVEL: Intermediate-Advanced

FULL TEASER 1 WITH FLX BALL

SETUP: Lying supine, hold the ball in your hands with your legs pressed together.

ACTION: Move arms over head and roll up.

  • As you roll up lift both legs (ball is touching the shins).

REPETITION: 4 times.

SETS: 3

MODIFICATIONS: Begin setup with legs bent and feet flat on the floor.

LEVEL: Advanced

FULL TEASER 2 WITH FLX BALL

SETUP: Lying supine, place the ball in between your ankles with your arms stretched long and fingers toward the sky.

ACTION:  Begin rolling torso up off the floor as your legs lift and extend to a high diagonal.

  • Fingers are reaching towards toes.
  • With control begin to lower your legs and torso at the same time to end up in your starting position.

MODIFICATION: Legs bent in a table top position.

LEVEL: Intermediate-Advanced

With stronger a strong core, flexibility and freedom of the body can improve. Stretch your limits.


Remember to apply Joseph Pilates methods of “contrology” based on the idea of muscle control. All exercises should be done with muscular control working against gravity and the resistance of the spring (on the apparatus) or other props, this activation controls the movement of the body and the apparatus. 

“Contrology is gaining the mastery of your mind over the complete awareness of your body.”~Joseph Pilates

Plank with the FLX Ball

The plank is an isometric exercise that targets your abdominal and back muscles, and it’s used for developing core strength, balance and endurance.


FLX Ball Plank

SETUP: Come on your hands and knees, place the FLX Ball under the tops of your feet and press your legs and feet together. Walk your hands out to a half plank (with knees still bent) or out to full plank.  

ACTION: With the tops of your feet still pressing into the ball, straighten legs.  Shoulders should be over your hands.

Hold for 10 counts, walk hands back, and rest.

REPETITIONS:  Hold for 10 counts up to one minute.

SETS:  3-5 sets.

CUES:  Tuck pelvis slightly under to engage the abdominals and take any strain out of the lower back. Pull up on the thighs to activate the quadriceps. Make sure to keep head in line with spine.

MODIFICATIONS: Bend the knees to the floor or come onto your forearms to perform a forearm plank.

CHALLENGES: Lift your pelvis towards the sky and return to your plank position, 10 times.

FLX Ball plank and pushup

Add hip twists by dipping the right hip bone towards the floor and then the left hip bone, 10 times.

Perform small push ups by bending the elbow in to your sides, 10 times.

TARGET MUSCLES: Rectus abdominis and transverse abdominis.

DANCER FOCUS and BENEFITS: Strengthens the core and upper body and is used as a core warm up. A stronger more stable core can help to improve turns, jumps and balances.

CONTRAINDICATIONS: Injury to the arms, back or shoulders.


LEVEL: Intermediate

Pilates Hundred with your Flexistretcher

Set up: Begin lying on your back. Wrap the Flexistretcher center around the soles of your feet and hold one loop in each hand. Palms are facing down. Flex your feet and press your legs towards the sky. 

Action: Nod your chin to your chest and roll up to the tips of your shoulder blades. Engage your abdominals and try to keep a neutral pelvis as you pulse your arms down toward the floor.

Inhale for 5 counts and Exhale for 5 counts. 10x

Bend your knees into to your chest and rest.

Variation: For more of a challenge lower your legs down towards the floor at a 45 degree angle.

Cues: Watch out for the band snapping back to into place. Make sure to keep the resistance in the band as you are pulsing your arms. Keep your gaze in towards your belly button to avoid tension in your neck. 



2 Cool Down Stretches to Beat the Summer Heat

Those high summer temperatures got you feeling slow and lethargic? Take 5 to cool down with these invigorating and restorative stretches. A cool down regimen is especially important to counteract lactic acid buildup that causes stiffness and soreness, as well as cramps and muscle spasms. With the elastic resistance power of the Flexistretcher, you won’t be feeling slow or sore anymore!

1. FORWARD FOLD

With this pose, yogis feel the benefits of a lengthened spine, stretched hamstrings and an invigorated  nervous system.  Dancers receive these same benefits, along with added improvements in extreme leg movements such as developpé or grand battement.

Make sure to hold for 10-15 counts. 

CUES:

  • Actively hug the legs together and press them into the floor.  
  • Pull up on the knees and lengthen through the heels.
  • Keep elbow hugged into your sides and drawing back as you fold forward.  
  • Pull hips back and down.
 

2. SUPINE HAMSTRING STRETCH

While in this position practice the PNF stretching technique contract-release by contracting the hamstring as you push the leg into the strap and then releasing as your arms resist the motion.

CUES:

  • Maintain the tension for the duration of the exercise.
  • Press long through the elastic.
  • Keep the hips square and firmly grounded to the floor.
  • Flex at the hip rather than the spine
  • Keep the back in contact with the floor
  • Keep the arms still and press down to the floor with the palms of the hands.