March MATness Day 13: One Leg Kick

Photo by Adam Kontor from Pexels

One Leg Kick can be a deceiving exercise.  Done improperly, clients are likely to think it’s pointless (or reminiscent of sunbathing – see image to the right).  Done properly, it is not only effective at enhancing thoracic extension and toning the legs, but it also brings awareness to the space in the hip joints that is not felt in many movements.

But to eek out all that space, it’s all about the prep.  The prep is simple, but it goes a loooong way in making the client aware of the goal.  Help the client find the proper trunk and arm positioning first.  Then tell them they are a statue from the waist up.  This isolates the movement to the lower extremities – and is a lot of trunk work to do so!  Next, have the client lift one leg up – just an inch –  keeping it straight, pointing the toe.  Ask her to place the leg back down on the mat an inch further towards the mat’s end than it was to begin with.  Repeat with the other leg.

As the client moves into the exercise’s movement, remind them to find that extra inch each time the leg straightens.  Et voilà!

A note or two about tactile cueing.  During the prep, it can be really helpful to grasp the client’s foot when it is in the air and give a slight tug so they can really feel the hip reaching out of the joint.  Another helpful tip for clients is to scoot down so that the feet are at the edge of the mat.  This enables them to have some self-tactile feedback on the top of the foot when it is placed back down on the mat.

It’s a simple exercise – some see it as a rest, but you can change that.  Just remember, it’s all about the prep.

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Copyright © 2018, Cueing Theory, All rights reserved.


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.

Copyright © 2017, Cueing Theory, All rights reserved.