Exercise 4. On the Ball Straight Leg Side Stretch
Level 1. Beginners Program
The Intrinsacore Method
This exercise focuses on the active stretching of the hamstrings, the contraction and activation of the abdominal muscles, and the core activation of moving, stretching and transitioning your body while sitting on the ball.
This exercise is not challenging in the obvious ways. Its challenge lies in its activation of your balance and mind-body control nervous system, known as your neuromuscular proprioception.
It does this by a combined group of actions, being executed with the body weight being placed on the ball. The focus on the position of your head, spine and hip movements offers a true full body activation challenge. In other words, many joints are moving in several directions at once with the ball as a support. But at the same time the ball is also challenging to your balance.
So let’s begin.
1. Place the ball on a safe, stable, nonslip surface. Sit on the ball in a wide knee squatting position. Check your knee to ankle alignment, your knees should be directly over your ankles. Raise your hands to eye level, lift and straighten through your spine and look forward and keep your head up and straight forward.
2. Now straighten your left leg. While straightening the left leg, pull the toes up and feel the ball slightly roll so the upper half of your left hamstring rolls on to the ball. This is the effect of the leg straightening action. Keep leg straight and toes up and active. At this point you should lift and extend upward through the spine, giving a rising sensation to the chest and head, with hands at eye level. As you bend forward, hold the extended spinal position and push your chin and chest outward and forward, as you bend into the hip contraction. Bending forward happens at the hip only.
3. As you Extend and lift the head and chest, rotate your shoulders toward the straight left leg. This spinal extension coupled with a spinal twist, creates a strong activation of the core spinal and torso muscles. Rotate until your chest bone or sternum is in line with your straight left leg. Then with the rotation and lift in the chest and head, bend from the hips toward the straight left leg. You should begin to feel a strong hamstring stretch. Bend forward from the hip as far as possible, without rounding your back. This will feel like you are looking forward while bending forward over your straight left leg. You should feel a strong hamstring stretch at this time.
4. When you reach the end of your stretch comfort in the hamstring, with an extended spine, let the spine round forward and touch your hands to the left raised toes. Hold for a short moment. Then look up straighten spine again but leave the contraction angle in the left hips. Pull hands back up to eye level and contract the bottom of your shoulder blades together. This helps the forward-looking spinal extension.
5. Now raise up unfolding from the hip-joint, while maintaining a straight spine and raised head posture. Rotate your shoulders back to the straight forward, wide knee squatting, sitting position and check that your hands are at eye level. This is a good time to take a deep breath in (inhale).
Repeat to the Right Side steps 1-5
Straighten right leg. Pull right toes up. Feel the ball change location to upper hamstring. Extend up through spine, rotate from shoulders toward straight right leg, bend from right hip forward. Extend from spine through neck and head into hamstring stretch, as far as comfortable. Round forward from back. Touch toes and exhale. Reactivate extended spine. Unfold from hip, raising up. Turn back to center.
Repeat to left
Start with 5 to the left than right, when this is easy and coordinated as a smooth connected action, move up in repetitions.
Exhale as you fold forward
Inhale as you rise.