Clients are always asking me, “Does Pilates really make you taller?” My response: “ABSOLUTELY!” But, how?
Exercises such as Chest Expansion are the answer. We spend most days hunched over sitting at a computer, browsing on our smartphones, driving and watching television. Couple this with good old gravity, and the result is chronically poor posture and what I refer to as “Little Old Lady Syndrome,” when your body actually begins to shrink! Chest expansion can help reverse these effects and allow us to stand tall again.
Why you need to be doing Chest Expansion
- Stretches the overly tight and strong chest and neck muscles, which reverses Rounded Shoulder Posture
- Strengthens the weak and overstretched upper back and shoulder muscles by pulling the shoulders back and helping us to stand up straight
- Improves balance by working the lower abs, deep pelvic floor, butt and hamstring muscles to stabilize the pelvis and spine against the resistance from the springs in front
- Works your scapular (shoulder blade) muscles, which helps to reduce the postural pain that comes from our shoulders’ tendency to live up around our ears!
How to perform Chest Expansion
Attach short yellow springs with handles to the eye hooks or vertical sliding bar at shoulder height. Stand facing the Tower/Cadillac.
With your pelvis and spine neutral, stand with your feet hip distance apart. Your arms are reaching down and slightly in forward of your hips, with your palms facing back, and shoulder blades “sitting in back pockets.” Inhale to prepare.
Exhale – Maintain stabilization of torso, pelvis and shoulder blades as you pull your arms down and back as far as possible while keeping your shoulders open and wide in front. Your wrists are as long as possible without “breaking.”
Inhale – Hold this arm position as you turn your head to one side, and then the other.
Exhale – Return head to center.
Inhale – Return arms to beginning position. Keep slight tension in springs when arms are in beginning position.
*Important Note: Move slowly with intention—no swinging or using momentum!
Modifications for Chest Expansion
Kneeling to focus stabilization at hip joint.
Standing on rotational disks to challenge stability and increase oblique (waist) work.
Megan Quigley is passionate about sharing the positive benefits of Pilates that help her students handle the daily stresses of life, such as better posture, flexibility and strength. She strives to give her clients efficient and effective workouts with a focus on correct form and technique. Megan especially loves the challenge of teaching clients of all fitness levels, from beginners to advanced practitioners.
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