Video tutorial below ↓
Remember the last time you were injured? You probably had to shift your training to either flexibility exercises or to anything that prevents loosing your muscle strength.
I came up with this stretch while I was nursing my broken ankle back to health at home. I decided to use my misfortune as an opportunity to concentrate on my flexibility, especially on my stiff shoulders and upper back.
I finally got a private class with a contortion coach from Berlin, that I’ve followed for some time. And although I was nervous, due to a less pleasant contortion experience in the past, it felt really good. And I learned something new about backbends that I’d like to share with you:
1. Lifting the hips off the ground in deep backbend stretches, like in the advanced versions of cobra, is not only allowed but also necessary. The hips carry a big range of motion for backbends that you can use and stretch to deepen your backbend practice. And generally, always stretch the hips before you train backbends.
2. Bend in an upright position first to prepare the body, before you start training for chest stands and squeezing your body into this difficult pose. Example: you would lie on your belly and the coach would be behind you, holding and gently pulling your arms to help you bend further back.
But how can I do this on my own? How can I replace the coach, who would stay behind me assisting?
I looked around in my room and there it was – my pole! I came up with what I found to be the most effective backbend stretch without the help of a partner.
NOTE: This exercise is for quite bendy people (especially in the shoulders and lower back). If you don’t reach the pole behind you or if it feels too intense, please try the standing version first, at the end of my Shoulders Stretching tutorial (2:40).
? INSTRUCTIONS: Push the chest away from the pole while pushing up the pole towards the ceiling. Whenever you feel comfortable, you could progressively place one hand further down, and then the other. The further down the hands are, the more intense the stretch will be for the shoulders and for the lower back.
This particular stretching exercise is great for shoulders and back flexibility, and depending on which muscle groups are more tight, you might feel it more intense in your lower back, or in your shoulders. If you prefer to work more on your upper back flexibility, instead of the lower back, you should stay high with your hands on the pole and push only the chest out.
Join the conversation:
What assistance/equipment do you use when you stretch? Write down in the comments.