There are many props for stretching and ones specifically for Pilates. You may not know where to start or how to use them. This post includes my favorite props to use for stretching, relieving tension, challenging myself during Pilates, and making exercises easier.
All of the props included are affordable and I’ve included links for each one. If you are starting Pilates at home, I recommend the Magic Circle and hand weights first. Then I would purchase the Franklin balls for stretching and massaging. There are two types (green and orange) and you can start with one. And then you’ll love stretching with a foam roller and theraband.
Stretch your legs with the magic circle
Rumor has it Joseph Pilates created the magic circle with the metal ring from a whiskey barrel. The circle itself is not as tough as that and there are so many options!
I’ve included videos on how to use it to strengthen your shoulders, stretching after a walk for your hips and legs, and stretching your hamstrings.
Stretching with Franklin Balls
There are two sets of balls I recommend, the orange ones are smooth, and the green ones have dimples. You can interchange them but the orange ones feel better underneath your shoulders. The green ones have dimples to mimic walking on uneven surfaces. These balls are softer than using a tennis ball or golf ball.
Start with your feet to massage them. You’ll notice a difference throughout your whole body afterwards. Your hips will feel open and as you walk your feet will feel light and springy. If you’d like to learn more on relieving foot pain, read this post.
A Set of Hand Weights
Grab a set of hand weights, you can use 1 lb, 2 lb, or 3 pounds. We use lighter weights in Pilates to create muscle tone. Your arms will look good and you’ll feel good! You’ll feel stronger to lift things in your everyday life. Whether it’s lifting your chonky cat, baby, or carrying groceries, these exercises will make it easier for you.
And if you know you tend to have tight shoulders, start with the franklin ball movements first. These relieve tension to allow your muscles to move freely and build your strength. Think of tight muscles as a tight knot, it’s hard to undo and if you try too hard it gets worse. Our muscles and fascia need to move easily like a rubber band stretches and springs back.
Here are 2 ways to use your hand weights for stronger shoulders and arms:
I love to use the Franklin balls under my shoulders after long periods of reading, computer work, or crafting. Any time I feel like I’m slouching or tight, I lay out my mat and do these movements.
Foam Roller, 36″ long
I love using the foam roller for stretching and opening my chest. It feels great to let gravity do the work while laying it under my spine. As I lay there I think of my shoulders melting to the floor like butter or ice cream on a hot day.
Here are some movements to try with the roller. I recommend doing this after a long day of computer work or standing. You’ll find yourself standing and sitting taller after!
Use the theraband for single leg circles on the mat to make them smoother and easier. If you’ve been sitting or walking for a long time, grab a theraband. Make sure it’s long enough to hold in your hands and go over the arch of your foot.
The theraband works well during single leg circle if your hips tend to feel tight, hear a clicking while circling, or if your circles feel choppy.
Here’s a tutorial on single leg circle that you can do with a theraband.
Also I enjoy using the band to stretch while standing and here’s how. You’ll need a long theraband, about 11 feet long.
Click here for the theraband video.
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