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.

Increase Abdominal Strength for Ease of Movement and Balance

“Increased abdominal activation and awareness promotes improvements in ballet movements such as maintaining a balance, turning, holding extensions and jumps. Body coordination is required to successfully accomplish many of these movements and learning to recruit strong abdominal muscles to perform complicated movements will result in noticeable advancements”

-Rachel Hamrick; professional ballerina and flexibility, strength and conditioning specialist

ABDOMINAL FLEXION EXERCISE

SETUP:  

Place the FLX Ball at your upper back between your scapula. Legs are bent with feet flat on the floor and hands are behind your head with elbows wide.

ACTION:  

With slow controlled movements, lift the upper torso gazing in at your belly button and return to a slight spinal extension.

CHALLENGE:

  • Add a twist.
  • Fold up as you twist to the right.
  • Roll back in the twist, rotate to center as your upper back extends over the ball.
  • Fold up as you twist to the left.
  • Roll back in the twist and rotate to center as you move into a little extension.
  • Repeat 20 times.

Now try an added challenge with a different arm variation:

SETUP:  

Legs are bent pressed together with feet flat on the floor and arms are straight over head with fingers interlaced and index fingers pulling arms straight behind head.

ACTION:  

With slow controlled movements, lift upper torso gazing in at your belly button and return to a slight spinal extension.

Repeat 20 times.

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

Effectively strengthen your abdominals with the Toe Taps

Keeping a neutral pelvis during an abdominal focused exercises will effectively target, fatigue and strengthen the muscles you are focusing on.


This exercise is great to practice while focusing on maintaining a neutral pelvis and avoiding strain in the neck.

With the portability of the FLX Ball, you can do this exercise anywhere and is great to implement into you warm up!

SETUP: Lying supine on the floor, place the core 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: Lift one leg to tabletop then the other.

Keeping the abdominal muscles engaged slowly lower one leg towards the floor and return to your starting position.

Switch legs.

REPETITION: Repeat 15-20 times.

SETS: 3 

CUES:  Watch out for your hips rocking side by side and make sure to avoid tucking the pelvis.  Keep a table top position with your knees over your hips.

MUSCLES TARGETED:  Abdominals

Dancer Focus and Benefits:  Increased abdominal strength helps to stabilize the core and can assist in improving turns and balance.

Focus on engaging the abdominals to return the leg back to starting position and this can greatly help to hold the leg to the front at increased heights.

LEVEL:  Beginner-Intermediate

Abdominal Flexion with the FLX Ball

Exercises with a FLX resistance ball has been proven to be effective in increasing core stability.  Incorporating core strengthening exercises into your daily warm-up or exercise regimen will help avoid injury and help you stay in tip top shape! Try this abdominal exercise today.

SETUP: Lie on your back and place the FLX Ball at your upper back between your scapula. Legs are bent pressed together with feet flat on the floor and arms are straight over head with fingers interlaced and index fingers pulling arms straight behind head.

ACTION:  With slow controlled movements, lift upper torso gazing in at your belly button and return to a slight spinal extension.

REPETITIONS: Repeat 20 times.

SETS: 3-5

CUES:

  • Ground feet into the floor pressing into the big toe.

  • Concentrate on isolating the movement and watch out for unnecessary movement in the pelvis.
  • Keep knees in line with your toes.

  • Pull navel in and up.
  • Fold rib cage over stomach and feel the bottom rib pull toward your hips.  The will insure that there is no unnecessary tension or movement in your neck.

MODIFICATIONS:

  • Place hands behind head with elbows wide.

  • Do not go as far back and maintain a smaller range when performing the exercise.

CHALLENGE:

  • Both legs straight up towards the sky.
  • As your upper torso extends over the ball, move the legs away from you. As you flex your torso up, move the legs closer to you. 
Abdominal Flexion with FLX Ball


TARGET MUSCLES: Rectus abdominus, transverse abdominus, internal and external obliques.

DANCER FOCUS: Abdominal strength allows for increased flexibility, strength, balance and coordination in simple and complicated choreographies.

Your core muscles connect your upper and lower body and consist of roughly 30 muscles that connect your legs to your hips, spine, and rib cage. These muscles include your abdominal muscles, back muscles and the muscles around the pelvis. A strong core can enhance balance and stability by the ability of the torso or trunk muscles to stabilize the spine. This in turn, provides a stable base for the arms and legs to move from.

CONTRAINDICATIONS: Lower back pain.

BENEFITS:

Improvements in these four areas are observed when working with the FLX Ball:

  • Flexibility: Using the FLX Ball to warm up and stretch before a workout not only keeps your muscles and joints supple, but it also helps to train your body to activate key muscles.

  • Coordination:Working against the resistance and instability of the FLX Ball creates better body awareness and enforces controlled active movements.

  • Balance: The unstable surface of the FLX Ball forces muscles to heighten their readiness. The body responds by activating the necessary muscles needed to help stabilize the body.

  • Strength: A strong core is imperative to improve functional stamina and strength in any form of dance, sport or fitness.

LEVEL: Beginner-Advanced

FLX Strength Abdombinal Series

Try this Abdominal Series with your Flexistretcher to amp up your core strength! 

Repeat the entire series 3-5 times. 

    1. Press and Hold: 10 counts.
    2. Knee Walks: 10 walks.  CUE: Thighs stay pressing into the elastic center as you walk. 
    3. Hip Lifts: 5-10 reps. 

CUES FOR THE ABDOMINAL SERIES

  • Hold the Flexistretcher by the elastic center, shoulder width apart and pull to a tension for the duration of the series.
  • As you curl your torso up, press the center of the band into the legs and the legs into the band.
  • Up for a challenge? Repeat the series with legs straight up towards the sky.   
  • Needs to modify? Complete the series with head on the floor

Effectively Target the Hamstrings with this Exercise!

Hip Lifts are key exercises that help strengthen the hip extensors and increase mobility in leg movements to the back.  For dancers, this is crucial for executing positions such as the ballet arabesque.  

Proper activation of the gluteus maximus and hip extension motion is needed for most basic movement patterns, especially skills requiring power. Limitations in hip extension or gluteus maximus activation can also affect static postures like standing by influencing pelvic tilt, motor control activation strategies, lumbar curve, and ultimately, the body's center of gravity. If the hip extensors are this important within basic postures and movements, then they are even more important within the more complicated movement patterns that arise in today's dance choreography. 

Hip Lifts can be performed with both the Flexistretcher and the FLX Ball: 

Hip Lifts with the Flexistretcher

hip lifts with the Flexistretcher

 

SETUP:

  • Lying supine with your legs bent feet flat on the floor, hip distance apart. 

  • Place the Flexistretcher center pad around shins 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.

CUES: 

  • Keep feet parallel - don't let the external rotation take over. 

  • Knees line up over toes

  • Arms stay hugged in by your sides.

  • Head stays in line.

REPETITIONS:  Repeat 10 times, 3 sets. 

Variation I

Heel lifts: Lift and lower heels 10x, roll down to your starting position, and repeat.

Variation II

Steps in place:  Lift the right leg and push out into the resistance, then place it down and do the same with the left leg, alternating step.

 

Hip Lifts with the FLX Ball

hip lifts with the FLX Ball


SETUP:

  • Lie on your back with your legs bent, and feet flat on the floor. 

  • Press both feet together on the ball. 

  • Arms are long by your side with palms pressed into the floor or for more of a challenge arms will be straight up with fingers pointing towards ceiling.

ACTION:

  • Tuck your pelvis and begin rolling the hips up off of the floor.  Send the knees over the toes to correct alignment and avoid externally rotating the legs to complete the movement

  • Articulate through the spine to roll down to the floor finishing in your starting position.

CUES:

  • Lift hips up by engaging abdominals and hamstrings.

REPETITIONS:  Repeat 10 times, 3 sets. 

Up for a challenge? Once hips are lifted and feet are pressing down into the ball you can add a challenge by circling the arms up, out to the side, and back to your starting position.

Need to modify? Perform exercise without the ball, such as in the Yoga Bridge Pose.





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. 



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Utilizing the FLX Ball to perform exercises puts emphasis on correct form, which is required to work against the instability of the ball’s surface. This increases an exercise's effectiveness by activating the key muscles necessary to complete the movement, resulting in a quicker, more efficient workout!

 

Why is the Flexistretcher the notable champion for flexibility training?

There are so many flexibility programs, props and equipment out there developed by other brands, but very few of them accurately and safely meet the needs of professional and pre-professional dancers.

 

Unlike flimsy elastic stretching bands, the Flexistretcher’s resistance has been carefully constructed to provide progressive stimulus to the muscle working to hold the position against the strap. 

This combination of support and stretch cannot be found in any other product.  Here's why:

  • The Flexistretcher’s size and 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).  
  • 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.
  • Utilizing the elastic allows for a variable resistance, not relying on gravity and promoting muscle activation throughout the exercise.
  • As the strap is stretched the resistance increases, the muscles are challenged to respond with increased effort which promotes muscle growth, strength and power. 
  • The shorter the straps are adjusted the tighter the tension, resulting in a more challenging exercise. 
  • Built to withstand the daily use of professional dancers and athletes, the Flexistretcher’s sturdy construction and custom designed parts are guaranteed to last!