Lengthening Out of the Hip – Creating Length through the Legs

Length through the extremities is a major theme in the Pilates repertoire.  It can be a bit tricky to teach, though.  So many of the exercises that are meant to emphasize this theme are also subject to an intense core challenge or work for the “large muscle groups.” This causes the subtlety of the exercises’ purpose to often get a bit lost.  Leg Pull Front and Single Leg Kick are great examples of exercises that require work elsewhere in our bodies to such a degree that it’s easy to forget that the central theme in these is creating length.

In Leg Pull Front the upper body weight bearing aspect is so much a challenge for many clients that the leg lift is almost an afterthought – a “please don’t let me tip and collapse” type of afterthought.  But really, the emphasis should be on the REACH with the toes – extending the leg out of the hip socket.

Single Leg Kick is similar.  Many focus on the kick as the main part of the exercise, but what about the extend?!  Hovering the leg an inch off the floor while reaching the toes to the wall behind you is the REAL work!

Here’s your cue to help: imagine that you have a string tied to your big toe and each time you reach your leg away and point your toes toward the wall behind you, the string pulls taut and stretches your leg just a bit further out of the hip joint and suspends you in the position just a few seconds more.  Really aim to feel the tug of the imaginary string.  You can even use a tactile cue to simulate this image to really drive the point home.

Click here for a previous cue that also helps create length through the extremities.

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