Cat Stretch – Exercise of the Week
The Cat Stretch is a great way to move into flexion and extension of the spine. A great exercise for anytime of the day to get that spine moving and connect into all parts of your body. It is safe for almost all bodies with few precautions noted in the movement section below. Use this move as a way to work out all the kinks.
Begin on all fours with your hands directly under your shoulders and knees directly under your hips.
Rounding the Back
Inhale to prepare in this neutral position. Then, exhale to round the spine by scooping the abdominals up. Your back will round in response. Allow the flexion to come from your abdominals pulling up as opposed to just the arms pushing into your upper back. You want to try and open up the space between each vertebra in your spine. Head should be released and tailbone tucked under to complete the curve in your spine.
Extending the Back
Inhale to pass through neutral and extend the spine. Focus on more extension in the upper spine here. To do this, think of reaching through the crown of your head and pull your shoulders down your back. It will feel like you are pulling your hands towards your legs. Also, be sure not to cave down from your shoulder blades – stay lifted out of the floor. Your tailbone will respond be lengthening out. If you have lower back issues, be mindful of not arching too much in your back. This can easily be avoided by staying lifted out of floor, keeping the abdominals engaged, and not letting go of the connection.
Do 5-8 reps
Things to Think About:
Go slow. Focus on where you feel stuck and give that a bit more attention. Wiggle your hips side to side to work out the kinks there and in your lower back. A nice way to finish is to walk your hands completely over to one side and stretch open that exposed side by giving a push through the arms and into the hip. There is no perfection in movement. Only progress in the doing.