The cat cow is a stretch and release exercise for the spine and is a wonderful way to release the lower back and thoracic spine and is especially useful to warm up a stiff spine on a frosty morning.
- This move is performed on your hands and knees by slowly bending your spine upwards to create an inverted U-shape like a cat
- Keep your gaze between your legs
- Now transition slowly to curve your spine, creating a U-shape and bring your stomach close to the ground like a cow, keeping your gaze upwards.
The Pike or also known as the Downward Dog, is a great stretch and release exercise to lengthen the spine, stretch the calves and hamstrings and build strength in the upper body. The Pike is a great full-body stretch and can help loosen stiff joints in the neck, shoulders, back, hips, knees and ankles.
- Start on your hands and knees
- Lift your knees off the floor and place your head between your arms with your gaze between your legs
- Using your upper body, push the tops of your thighs back and stretch your heels down, creating an inverted V shape with your body
- Try to straighten your legs as much as you can without locking your knees
For those less flexible you can bend your legs on the inhale and straighten them on the exhale and repeat.
The Quadricep is a weight-bearing strength exercise targeting your core, glutes and hamstrings. The Quadricep is beneficial for those with back pain as it improves your core muscles and assists in stabilising your spine.
- Start on your hands and knees, hip-width apart, now activate your core to protect your spine
- Once you have braced your abdominals and are feeling steady, proceed to lift one arm in front of you and the opposite leg behind you
- Looking in the mirror, create a straight line from the tip of your fingers all the way to the tips of your toes, ensuring that your back is also aligned
- Hold this for a few seconds and return your arms and legs to the ground, then repeat on the alternate arm and leg.
Horse Kicks are an incredible way to strengthen your arms and glutes while challenging the core. This move is valuable for those with hip pain as it lubricates the hip joint and strengthens the muscles surrounding the hip.
- Start on your hands and knees hip-width apart, bracing your abdominals to create a sturdy frame
- Once you feel secure lift one leg up off the ground, keeping the knee bent at a 90-degree angle and the foot flexed
- Now slowly using a kicking motion, straighten your leg up towards the ceiling and slightly out to the side
- To return, point your toes and bring your knee towards your elbow without touching the floor and repeat.
Double Leg Lifts (Side-Lying)
Double leg lifts are a fantastic way to improve your posture, create a stronger core and alleviate back pain.
- Begin by lying on your side with your legs slightly bent and using your arms to support yourself up; now activate your core
- Once your core has been activated and your body is stable, lift your top leg off the ground and slightly in front of you
- Now bring your opposite leg to meet the other
- Once both legs are off the ground, straighten them as much as you can and proceed to lower them to the floor
- Bring your legs back down towards the ground without touching the floor and repeat
- This is a difficult exercise so if you are having difficulty it is recommended to perform this move with just one leg and leave the opposite leg slightly bent and resting on the mat.
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