Follow the deep-stretching technique pioneered by movement and dance expert Marja Putkisto, to boost circulation and lymph drainage in the legs and smooth out cellulite.
Pilates teacher Marja Putkisto started to develop the Putkisto method twenty years ago, when she realised that many of us – herself included – are unable to stretch our muscles enough to allow our bodies to work properly.
She realised that our muscles get tight and are shortened from spending too much time sitting on our bottoms (sound familiar). Our rib cages sink, the diaphragm pump can’t work properly and circulation is permanently decreased and lymph flow restricted. Both circulation and lymph drainage have often been cited as keys to the cellulite mystery.
Done regularly, the deep stretching helps lengthen the muscles and sort out body alignment and posture. You can’t do the deep stretching properly without the deep breathing, which creates a natural rhythm, helping you time the stretches. Deep breathing gets more oxygen into the system, improving circulation and helping eliminate the toxins which could also contribute to cellulite.
One big advantage of this technique is that you don’t have to spend any money. You can learn the method and do it any time you like in the comfort of your own sitting-room. But if you want to know more, Maria’s method is fully explained, with lots more exercises for different parts of the body and a four-week programme, in her book The Body Lean and Lifted: Stretch Yourself Slim in 30 Days.
So, want to give it a go? When you’re doing these exercises you need to use your mind as well and concentrate on feeling the different muscle groups in the body, so take your time. Once you’ve practised a few times it’ll get easier.
Do this sequence of stretches to improve cellulite four or five times a week. To get maximum benefits, make sure you eat healthily (no junk food of course), drink plenty of water and walk 20 minutes a day.
Step 1: Lizard Stretch to Lengthen Muscles Around Hips and Pelvis
• Kneel on the floor, bend the right leg to create a 90-degree angle in front of your body with the foot flat on the floor.
• Extend your back leg behind you, staying upright with your chest lifted, and tilt your tailbone towards your navel.
• Rotate your back leg from your hip joint slightly inwards.
• Breathe in through the nose, focusing on the air reaching the lowest part of your lungs, then exhale slowly through your mouth, creating the stretch at the end of the outbreath.
• Continue the stretch with the flow of your breathing, applying more body weight through your pelvis to increase the stretch, for 2- 5 minutes.
Step 2: Bow Stretch To Increase Lymph Flow
• Stand with your right side near a wall. Place the heel of your right foot on top of your left foot.
• Lift right elbow upwards, rotating it from the shoulder, and place the palm of that hand against the wall.
• Drop your head towards your left shoulder.
• Place your left hand on the right side of your lower ribcage.
• Focus on increasing the space between your pelvis and ribcage, creating a ‘bow’ stretch by bending your supporting leg and arm.
• Breathe in deeply through your nose to expand the side you are stretching.
• As you breathe out through your mouth, the rise of the diaphragm lifts your ribs away from your pelvis.
• Pause, and then further separate your ribs from your pelvis by dropping your weight towards your waistline (be careful not to lean on your hand I.
• Continue the stretch with the flow of your breathing for 2- 5 minutes. • Repeat on the other side.
Step 3: Fishtail Stretch For Pelvis and Thighs
• Lie on the floor on your right side and support your head with your right arm.
• Turn your tailbone slightly towards your navel.
• Straighten your right leg. Bend your left knee and place your left foot on the floor in front of your right knee.
• Place your left hand on the floor.
• Inhale deeply through your nose, press your left hand into the floor, squeeze your sitting bones closer to each other and lift your waistline off the floor.
• Exhale, pause, and lift the right leg about 10 cm off the floor.
• Keep breathing deeply and slowly and focus on the inner thigh muscles, holding the stretch for 2 minutes or longer if possible.
• Repeat on the other side.
How did it go?
Q: If I get started on this deep breathing and stretching, how long will it take before I see an improvement in my cellulite?
A: It’ll take about four weeks, if you do the
exercises properly four or five times a week and
eat healthily and drink plenty of water to help flush out toxins.
Q: My cellulite seems to have got worse since I had my baby a few months ago, even though I’m back to my normal weight. Is this hormonal?
A: It could be a combination of factors, including hormonal shifts, and the fact that exercise regimes often go out of the window post-baby. After pregnancy women are more vulnerable to the pelvis being out of alignment, so the Putkisto method is a good starting point. It also has the big advantage that you can do it at home whenever the baby is asleep – you don’t even need to turn up at a class.