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Back Stretches

There are several ways to stretch the back. This position is called the plow. It is a great stretch for opening up areas of the spine blocked with tension. It is VERY important to make note of the following points:

1.Do not force this position. You can damage ligaments and tendons in your neck that will not easily heal.

2.When in the position, relax. Do not tense any muscles, only use those muscle necessary to help you hold your position.

3.Do not talk while in this position.

4. Do not turn your head from side to side while in the plow. Again, you can damage muscle tissue that will not heal easily.
First, relax your body with the palms up and your feet turned outward, as pictured below.

 

Turn your palms down to the floor, and slowly lift your legs to 90 degrees. Do not throw them up, lift them. Use counter pressure on the floor with your arms if necessary. Do not lift your head off the floor. If you cannot get this far, you need to strengthen your abdominal muscles, and return to this posture another day.


Next, without straining, bring your feet over your head, and touch the balls of your feet to the floor. You may keep your hands next to your body, as in the photo above, or support your back with them, as in the photo below. Be careful not to strain, and remember the points 1 through 4 as listed above. You can keep the legs slightly bent, or you can straighten them.reach around and hold .

Bring your hands next to your body, if you placed them on your back or grabbed your feet. Come out of the position slowly, feeling one vertebrae at a time touch the ground as you come down. Keep your legs close to your body, do not let your head come off the floor. Bring your legs back to 90 degrees, then continue to slowly lower them to the floor.

Rest for a few moments and feel the stretch down your whole spine.

Cobra

When we stretch our back one way, it is good to stretch the other way. This helps to recenter the discs in the spine, as well as equalize our flexibility from front to back.
From the above position, roll over onto your stomach. Do not turn your head to the side. Bring your arms next to your shoulders.



Keep your hips on the floor, and press your shoulders up by straightening your arms. Look back at the ceiling. Keep your hips on the floor, and feel the stretch in front of your body. Keep the buttocks relaxed.(picture on left) Now, continue to press up against the floor. The curve takes place in your spine, not from lifting your hips off the ground. (picture on right) Note the legs are relaxed, the mouth is closed, and the eyes are looking up at the ceiling.

A variation includes coming up onto the balls of the feet, and keeping your hips and legs off the floor. Again, the buttocks are relaxed, and the mouth is closed. Breath through the nose.

If any of the above stretches are difficult, rest on your forearms as demonstrated below, instead of pressing up off of the floor with your hands.

Follow up the cobra stretch with the downward facing dog stretch, a great stretch for your hamstrings, as shown below.

If you want to feel more stretch in your calf and achilles tendon, you can pick one leg up and put all your weight into just one leg. After holding one leg up for a few moments, switch.

Disclaimer

It is possible to injure onself in any physical activity. Consult your physician if in doubt about your physical condition before embarking on a stretching program. The author of howtostretch.com accepts no liability for any injuries sustained while practicing any of the stretches described within.

 

 

 

 

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