Work Your Abs with Bend and Stretch on the Foam Roller

Bend and stretch on the foam rollerBend and stretch is a pretty common Pilates exercise. When I was trained through STOTT PILATES, I learned Bend and stretch on the Reformer and the Cadillac. By using straps and springs, you can strengthen your legs and your abdominals.

When you practice Bend and stretch without the straps and springs, you get a more intense core workout. Particularly, you target your deeper abdominal muscles like your transverse abdominis, internal obliques, and external obliques. Here’s how to practice this easy core strengthener.

Bend and Stretch

  1. Begin on your back with your knees bent, heels in line with your SITs bones.
  2. Lift your hips so you can slide the roller under them. When you lower your hips, your sacrum (tailbone) should be on the roller. Place your hands on either side of the roller to help keep it stable.
  3. Use traditional Pilates breathing.
  4. Inhale in to the sides of your ribs. Exhale and tilt your pelvis slightly in to Imprint.
  5. Inhale to lift your left leg to Table top.
  6. Exhale to lift the right leg to meet the left. Engage your adductors (inner thighs). Point your feet.
  7. bend and stretch lateral rotationInhale here and, as you exhale, press your legs out on a 45 degree angle.
  8. Inhale to come back to Table top, and exhale to press away.
  9. Complete 10 of these and return to Table top.
  10. Laterally rotate from your hips so that your heels are together and your toes are apart. Your knees should also be facing away from each other. Flex your feet.
  11. Inhale here, and exhale to press your legs away on a 45 degree angle.
  12. Inhale to come back to center.
  13. Complete 10 of these and return to center.
  14. bend and stretch medially rotatedNow, medially rotate from the hips. Turn your knees toward each other and let them meet. Connect your big toes.
  15. Inhale here, and exhale to press out on a 45 degree angle. As your legs straighten, your knees will move away from each other. This is fine. Just make sure that your big toes stay connected.
  16. Complete 10 of these and return to center.
  17. Bring your legs back to parallel in Table top.
  18. Inhale to set one foot down. Exhale to lower the other.

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.

Bend and Stretch Video

Here is a video for visual learners.

What do you think of this exercise? Do you think Bend and stretch is harder on the foam roller or the Reformer? Let us know in the comments below.

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About Sarah Stockett

Hi, I'm Sarah! I'm a certified Pilates and yoga instructor with a passion for pain relief. I believe you can use simple exercises to relieve your aches + pains. AND, I believe I can teach you how.