Back Stretch: Standing Straight

Stretching your spine up, against the pull of gravity, allows your whole body to move freely and easily. Take some time to follow the instructions below, and you will feel the benefit as you do the outward stretches.

Start from your feet

Stand with the outer edges of your bare feet parallel to each other and your big toes touching. You may have to keep your heels slightly apart. Stretch your toes fully as they help to balance and support your trunk. (If you have bunions or deformed toes you may find this difficult). From the balls of your feet, extend back into your heels. Your weight should be taken evenly on the arches of both feet, and you should feel your feet firm and stable on the floor.

Lift up from your arches and stretch up through your legs, pulling up your kneecaps by tightening your front thigh muscles. The backs of your knees should also extend, but do not push back into them as this could strain your calf muscles. Tighten the muscles underneath your buttocks so that your coccyx (tailbone) feels ‘tucked in’. When held correctly the pelvis is horizontal, not tilted either backwards or forwards, and in this position it gives the spine maximum support.

Stretch up through your spine

As you stretch up from your pelvis, the muscles of your abdomen act to help your lumbar spine extend and stop it sagging inwards. This relieves pressure on the lower back. Lift your ribcage at the back as well as the front and feel the muscles of the back of the chest stretch away from your spine. This is known as opening the chest. Make space between your hips and your ribs.

Stretch your arms up above your head, feeling the lift in your spine. Then drop them by your side again, without losing the spinal stretch. Drop your shoulders. Do not tense them to feel more lift. Hold your arms loosely and use their weight to help your shoulders drop.

Extend your neck up into the base of your skull without lifting your chin or pulling it in too far. Feel as if you are being pulled up by the crown of your head. Your whole body should feel firm but light, while you breathe smoothly and easily.

From this basic standing stretch, your body is free to move in all directions.

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