Spine Lengthening Stretches

Perform one of the following spine lengthening stretches routines each day. Alternate the routines daily to give yourself some variety as well as to target different areas of your spine.

Each spine lengthening stretches should be performed for 10 repetitions before moving on to the next stretch.

Remember to take your time and breathe slowly and deeply while stretching. As you stretch, imagine that you are a long, tall, very flexible gymnast. Have a positive attitude that you are getting taller each and every day and focus your mind on stretching just a little bit further than you did the previous day. You can do it.

 

ROUTINE #1

1.1 The Cobra

Lie on the floor face down with palms on the floor under your shoulders. Begin to arch your spine up leading with your chin. Arch as far back as possible. Each repetition should last between 15-30 seconds.

1.2 The Cat Stretch

Get on your hands and knees with your arms locked out. Inhale as you flex your spine down and bring your head up. Exhale as you bring your spine up into an arched position while bringing your head down. Each repetition should last between 3-8 seconds.

1.3 Basic Leg Stretch

Sitting down, spread your legs far apart. Reach for your toes. Try to keep your knees as straight as possible. Now move into reaching for the toes on the other leg. Be sure to keep your spine straight and move from your hips. Do not arch the upper spine. This stretch works both your spine and legs. Each repetition should last between 6-15 seconds.

1.4 The Bridge

Lying down with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor as close to your butt as possible, grab your ankles and hold onto them while you raise your hips up and arch your spine, lifting your abs towards the ceiling. Lift your abs as high as possible. Go back down. If you can’t hold onto your ankles, keep your arms to the side and use them to help push yourself up. Each repetition should last between 3-10 seconds. This stretch may be hard to do at first, but be persistent even if you can’t do it completely right at first.

1.5 The Bow Down

Stand with your hands on your hips. Keep your hands on your hips and bend forward as far as possible, leading with your head. Don’t bend your knees and keep your chin off of your chest. Each repetition should last between 4-8 seconds.

1.6 The Super Stretch

Standing up, reach your hands up as high as you can as you lean slightly back. Feel the stretch in your lower spine. The Super Stretch can be done standing up or lying down. Because this stretch is easy and comfortable, we encourage you to do this not only as part of a program but also at odd times like when you are watching TV or lying in bed. Each repetition should last between 4-7 seconds.

1.7 One Straight Leg Up

Lying on your stomach with your hands behind your neck, raise one of your legs as high and as far up as possible. Now repeat with the other leg. Keep your legs straight. Each repetition should last between 3-5 seconds.

1.8 Super Sky Stretch

On your knees with your arms stretched upwards and hands together, lean your head and arms back as far as possible. Each repetition should last about 5 seconds.

1.9 The Acrobat

Lying on your back with your knees bent and hands next to your head with the palms flat against the floor, push off your feet and hands to raise yourself up as high as possible. Each repetition should last about 8-15 seconds.

 

ROUTINE # 2

2.1 The Super Cobra

Start with your arms perpendicular to the floor, and the spine arched (the end position of the cobra). Now bend your hips and bring your body up into an inverted “V” position. While you are doing that, tuck your chin against your chest. Return to the original position. Each repetition should last between 10-20 seconds.

2.2 The Table

Sit down on the floor with your legs straight. With your torso straight, place the palms of your hands on the floor next to your butt. Then tuck your chin against your chest. Now bring your head back as far as it will go. While doing that, raise your body so that your knees bend while the arms stay straight. The torso and upper legs will be straight and horizontal to the floor. Your arms and lower legs will be perpendicular to the floor. You will be the shape of a table. This is another hard stretch for some. If you can’t do it right away, just do the best you can, eventually you will be able to do it with ease. Each repetition should last between 8-20 seconds.

2.3 The Yawn

Standing up with hands held together behind your neck, bend your head upwards and back as far as possible. Each repetition should last 5-15 seconds.

2.4 Hands on the Head Bow Down

Standing with your hands together behind your neck, bend forward as far as possible. Lead with your head. Bring your chin into your chest. Don’t bend your knees. Each repetition should last between 4-8 seconds.

2.5 Wall Stretch

Standing up against a wall, reach your hands up as high as possible while getting on you tip toes. Keep your spine flat against the wall as much as possible. Each repetition should last between 4-6 seconds. This stretch is harder than it looks because you are keeping your spine flat against the wall.

2.6 The Super Stretch #2

Standing up, face 4 inches (10 cm) from a wall, reach as far up onto the wall as possible getting on your tip toes. Each repetition should last about 3-5 seconds.

2.7 Touch Toes

Standing with your hands high above your head, bend over and touch your toes. Keep your legs as straight as possible. You can bend your knees a little if need be. Each repetition should last between 2-3 seconds.

2.8 Bar Twist

Standing with a broom or bar way over your head, twist to your left and right. Twist to one side and stretch, then twist to the other side and stretch. You should hold each repetition on each side for 3-4 seconds.

2.9 The Downhill

Standing with your hands together and arms behind you, bend down at the waist as far as possible as you slowly swing your arms as high as possible behind you. Each repetition should last between 4-6 seconds.

 

ROUTINE #3

3.1 The Bowl

Lying face down, raise both your arms and legs up at the same time. The shape your body makes should mimic that of a bowl. Each repetition should last 5 seconds.

3.2 The Skier

Standing with your legs a little more than shoulderwidth apart and your arms raised over your head as high as possible, bend forward at your waist and push your arms through your legs. Each repetition should last about 5 seconds.

3.3 Upper Body Slant

Sitting on the edge of a slant board with your legs straight, lean back as far as possible so that your upper body is completely off of the slant board. If you don’t have a slant board, you can easily create one with a board and a bucket. Each repetition should last 4-5 seconds.

3.4 Lower Body Slant

With your upper body lying on a straight bench and your butt on it while your legs are completely straight, lean your upper body forward and bring your nose to your knees. Each repetition should last between 4-5 seconds.

3.5 Sky Stretch

Kneel on the floor with your body straight and your hands against your thighs. Bring your neck and head forward and tuck your chin to your chest. Then bring your neck and head as far back as possible while you arch your spine. Each repetition should last between 6-8 seconds.

3.6 Two Straight Legs Up

Lying face down with your palms down and on the sides, raise both your legs up together as high as possible. Keep your feet together. Each repetition should last 3 seconds.

3.7 Standing Table Hold

Standing with your hands holding a table and your upper body horizontal to the table, have someone push against your upper back as you stretch. Each repetition should last 10-15 seconds.

3.8 Basic Twist

Standing with your arms straight out at shoulder level, twist your upper body to the left and right while your legs and hips remain still. The twist to each side should last between 2-4 seconds.

3.9 Bench Stretch

Sitting on a straight bench with your arms raised above you, slowly lean back so that your upper body is off the bench and horizontal to it. Each repetition should last about 6 seconds.

3.10 Incline Upper Body Slant Stretch

Sitting on the upper part of an incline bench with your legs straight and hand together behind your neck, lean back over the edge as far as possible. Each repetition should last 4-7 seconds.