Chicken wing is not your typical Pilates exercise. I’m not sure who exactly created it, but I first learned of it in Ellie Herman’s Pilates Props Workbook.
This exercise is very simple to explain and very challenging to practice. Personally, I believe that it’s so challenging because we spend so much time letting our chest and shoulders round forward without taking the time to stretch them open.
If you have tight pecs or shoulders, practice Chicken wing on the floor first. When you feel like you’re not getting a stretch, move on to a foam roller.
- Use traditional Pilates breathing.
- Come onto your back. If you’re on the foam roller, make sure that you sit all the way at one end of the roller so that, as you lie down, you don’t run out of support. Your pelvis, spine, and head should all be supported by the roller. If your head is off the roller, you can either wiggle your way down so that you’re fully supported; or you can roll off and try again.
- If you are on a roller, ground through your feet and use your abdominals to keep you centered. (You should still engage your abdominals even if you’re not on a roller. The feeling just won’t be quite as intense.)
- Bend your elbows to a ninety degree angle and turn your palms toward the ceiling. You should look like you’re calling a good field goal while on your back.
- Make sure that your collarbones are broad and your shoulders are down, away from your ears.
- Try to allow your chest to open so that the backs of your hands lower to the ground.
- Inhale and draw your elbows toward your rib cage. Don’t let the angle at your elbow change as your do this.
- Exhale and straighten your arms by your sides. At this point, if you’re on the roller, your hands should be level with the midline of your body and not on the floor. Naturally, if you’re on the floor, your hands will touch the floor.
- Bend your elbows and return to your starting position (as described in step 4).
- Complete 3-4 reps total.
Finding a Foam Roller
If you want to order a foam roller, I recommend the OPTP brand foam roller. Their foam rollers are firm and don’t dent or bend easily. It’s crucial for your foam roller to be firm and stay the same shape throughout its use.
Foam rollers are a great tool to elevate your Pilates mat work, but they’re also wonderful self-massage tools. Here’s a link to some foam roller stretches.
Chicken Wing Video
Here is a video for visual learners.
What’s your favorite way to stretch your chest? Let us know in the comments below.
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