Pilates exercises can help elongate the muscles of your legs. Fluid and controlled motions combine to stretch and strengthen the leg muscles during Pilates. While no exercises have the ability to actually make your legs longer, by stretching and slimming your legs you can give them an elongated appearance. Consult with your doctor prior to attempting this or any new exercise program.
Leg circles will stretch your hamstring muscles while strengthening your hip flexors, hamstrings and quadriceps. This combination of strengthening and stretching will help elongate your legs. Lying flat on your back with your abdominal muscles pulled in toward your stomach, lift one straight leg to point up to the ceiling as your other straight leg remains flat against the ground. Keeping both hips anchored to the ground, circle your straight leg in toward your opposite shoulder and then down as you inhale deeply. As your leg circles past your other leg, begin to exhale as you circle your leg back up to the starting position. Circle five times in that direction before switching directions. Repeat the same process on the opposite leg.
Single Straight Leg Stretch
An intense stretching exercise like the single straight leg stretch will help keep your leg muscles from bulking up. Instead, they will grow strong while looking longer because of the sleek muscle developing in your upper legs. Lying flat on your back, pull both knees in toward your chest. Extend one leg straight out about 6 inches off the ground. Stretch the other leg straight up, grabbing the ankle of your raised leg with both hands as you elevate your head and shoulders off the ground. Pulse your top leg in toward your torso for two quick beats, and then keeping your legs straight, quickly scissor them to switch the leg that is elevated, again pulsing it for two beats. Complete five to 10 sets of these alternating leg pulses.
Side Kick Series 1
Roll over onto one side with your legs stacked on top of each other. First, work the front and back of your thigh with this elongating kick. Lift your top leg off your bottom leg and, keeping it straight, swing it forward for two pulses and then behind you for one pulse. Repeat this motion five to 10 times. Next, focus on the side of your hip and thigh also working your inner thigh by lifting your top leg as high as you can, allowing your knee to turn to face the ceiling. When you lower your leg, do not allow it to touch your bottom leg. Do five to 10 reps.
Side Kick Series 2
Still in the side kick position with your top leg lifted, zone in on the side of your hip by making small circles forward with your top leg. Imagine the toe of that foot is drawing a circle about the size of a dinner plate. Complete five to eight circles forward before switching directions. Strengthening the muscles and burning the fat off the outside of your hips will make your legs appear longer. Gluing your two legs together, lift both legs into the air and hold for three seconds before lowering them back down to the ground. Do this three to five times, each time trying to get your legs a little higher than the time before. When you have finished all exercises in the side kick series, roll over and repeat them on the other side.
- Pilates: Body in Motion; Alycea Ungaro; 2002
- Pilates Back Joint Exercise: Pilates Leg Exercises for Strength and Flexibility