For most of us, having a stiff back is more common than having a flexible one. Besides bending forward to pick things up, there just aren’t many opportunities in our daily lives to practice bending our spines in all directions. Sitting for long hours, sleeping on an unsupportive mattress, and simply not stretching and strengthening our backs regularly can cause pain, inflexibility and poor spinal health. Whether you’re looking to relieve back stiffness from sitting at your desk or gaining flexibility so you can nail that scorpion pose, these 5 strengthening and stretching moves will help get you there!
Butterfly Pose Side Bends– Sit on the floor in a butterfly pose with your heels together. Start by placing your right hand on the floor next to you and sweeping your left arm to your right side overhead. As you reverse the movement to go to the left side, lean your torso forward over your hips as you move through the center. Continue switching sides in a fluid manner reaching farther back and lengthening your side with each sweep. Use the hand on the ground for support. Do about 5-8 on each side to warm up.
Butterfly Pose Spinal Articulations– Stay seated in the butterfly pose and place your hands on the floor behind you, fingers facing towards you. Inhale. As you exhale, round your back bringing your chin to your chest and scooping out your abs. Your elbows may bend a little here to create the c curve in your spine. On your next inhale, arch your back, squeezing your shoulder blades together and straightening your arms. As long as you don’t have any neck issues, allow your head to drop back. Round and arch 10 times.
Upper Back Lifts– Lie face down with your arms stretched out to a low V and legs at a natural hip distance apart. Make your hands into fists with your thumbs pointing up. Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you squeeze your glutes, pressing your hips into the floor to arch your upper body off the ground. As you do this, pull your abs in to lengthen your torso and protect your lower back. Rotate your shoulders back so that your thumbs point behind you and pull your arms back as far as possible as if you are trying to touch both thumbs behind you. Slowly lower back down to your starting position. Do 10-15 reps, finishing in a child’s pose as a counter stretch to your spine.
Child’s Pose to Cobra– From your child’s pose, transition into a cobra position by transferring your weight from your legs to your hands. As you start to straighten your legs and transfer your weight forward, arch your back. When you reach your full cobra, pull your shoulder blades down, open your chest and lengthen your neck. Without moving your hands, press back into a child’s pose while arching your back until the very last second when your butt meets your heels. Round forward to rest your head on the floor. Repeat this sequence to complete 5-7 rounds, ending in your cobra to prep for the next move.
Butt Kicks in Cobra– From your cobra position, squeeze your glutes and point your toes to perform two heel to butt kicks first with the right leg and then the left. Continue kicking your feet to your glutes, pressing your hips into the ground so that your butt doesn’t lift up and down with each kick. Be aware of your upper body posture while doing these. Maintain a long spine and strong lats so that you don’t sink into your shoulder blades. If this causes discomfort in your lower back, move your hands forward to decrease the arch in your lower back. Two heel kicks on each leg equals one rep. Do 20 reps at a fast pace. Finish the series in child’s pose to release your back.
What are your reasons for wanting a flexible back?
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Video: Crystal Chin