Having a stiff back? We have a single stretch that’ll fix that for you. And once you realize how great it is, you’ll want to check all eight spinal flexion stretches we’ve prepared for people suffering from back pain and poor posture. Our aim is to give you with a stretching routine, which when practiced regularly (once or twice per week, for example) will help you get rid of round back and discomfort in the spine and improve your posture. Office workers and anybody who tends to sit a lot will find these exercises very helpful in alleviating problems and symptoms associated with prolonged sitting. If you are diagnosed with a back injury, consult with your doctor if this exercise is suitable for you.
Certain individuals might find these exercises challenging if they are out of shape and don’t have a history with similar exercises. Since we also want to demonstrate even more challenging exercises that will work on improving your back muscles and posture, we decided to first start with more basic stretches and give you a chance to progressively work your way up to more complex positions and movements.
The series so far:
- Exercise #1: Cat-Cow (you are here)
- Exercise #2: Back Extension
- Exercise #3: Back Stretching
- Exercise #4: Heel Kick
- Exercise #5: Double Impact
- Exercise #6: Swimming
- Exercise #7: Stomach Rolls
- Exercise #8: Diving Swan
Please make sure to start from the 1st exercise and only after perfecting it work your way up to the more demanding ones to ensure a gradual progression and avoiding any injuries. For example, if you are out of shape and just starting out, it may take several weeks before you’ll feel comfortable of advancing to a follow-up exercise. After you go through the entire program, you’ll find your favorites and the ones that benefit you the most. Remember not to push yourself too hard, a smart stretch must be controlled, gentle and continuous.
Since you are taking your joints to a point close to their limits, a certain amount of discomfort is normal, but when the discomfort turns into pain, you may have exceeded your limit and could potentially be getting close to injury. Stay concentrated at all times and observe how your body is reacting to the exercise. Good luck!
Cat-Cow Pose for Stiff Back
Cat-cow Pose is a balanced exercise for the whole back, and being both a stretch (cat) and an extension (cow), we think it’s a good place to start our series. It helps with a stiff back, develops flexibility in the spine, improves your posture and is one of the exercises often recommended for back pain. Furthermore, it also tones and stretches the abdominal muscles!
Cat-cow is really a combination of two poses, cat and cow. It is one of the exercises that both Pilates and yoga share and is often done as a warm up exercise. We will use it as a preparatory stage, during which you’ll develop the basis and the skills needed to perform more complex exercises later in our back & spine series.
Initial position. Do the stretch before going to sleep. Start with your hands and knees on the exercise mat. Your knees should be directly below your hips and your palms under the shoulders. Keep your pelvis and spine in a neutral (straight) position, by engaging your abdominal muscles to support your spine.
- Pull your abdominal muscles in as you arch your back up like a stretching cat and simultaneously let your head and tailbone drop down toward the floor;
- Return to the initial position;
- Extend the upper part of the spine upwards, supporting it with your abdominal muscles. In the beginning, at this point you can return to the starting position. Later on, as you advance in the exercise, supplement it by moving your tailbone and hips up as well. Make sure your neck is a long extension of your spine and don’t let the head fall back;
- Return to starting position and repeat 5 times. If you still feel a stiff back after waking up, repeat the stretch another 5 times.
Make Sure You
- Gently pull your abdominal muscles in toward the spine and rib cage to keep the pelvis and spine neutral;
- In the Cat pose, pull your stomach in, in order to bend the spine. At the same time slightly lower the tailbone and pelvis by contracting the muscles of the hip and abdomen;
- After the Cat pose, gradually return to the initial position, utilizing the abdominal muscles;
- In the Cow pose, use the spine extensor muscles, trying to pull the head and upper torso up and forward as high as possible, simultaneously working the arm extensor muscles to bend slightly your back and lift your upper body.
Additional Notes and Spinal Flexion
The benefit of this exercise is not only in relaxing and strengthening the back extensor muscles, but also in improving the coordination between the muscles of the back and the abdomen. The utilization of the abdominal muscles (which requires a lot of effort) you’ll pick up here will be of particular importance for the protection of the lumbar spine in the more complex exercises following in the series.
The movement of the spine during Cat pose allows you to practice spinal flexion using the abdominal muscles. This creates the conditions for dynamic stretching of the muscles. It also brings you in position to add some variety in your exercises, especially those dedicated to spinal extension (as is the next one).
If you found this stretch helpful, check the next exercise in the program, this back extension stretch, to further relieve your stiff back.
Source: Sport Wiki. to
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