The Downward Dog…So Many Benefits from One Movement
Written by Jean Thorson
This is my go-to stretch before and after a workout. If you have tight hamstrings, calves, hips, low back, shoulders and/or wrist tension, this stretch is for you. What I love about this stretch is all the benefits you get from one movement:
– Elongates and releases tension from your spine
– Opens the hips and shoulders
– Stretches hamstrings, calves, arches and hands
– Strengthens arms, shoulders, wrists, ankles and abdominals
– Improves digestion
– Relieves back pain, headaches, insomnia and fatigue
– As a mild inversion it calms the nervous system and relieves stress
I like to add 5-10 forward squats into the movement to add some shoulder and hip activation before I workout. After my workout I like to simply breathe in this position to calm my nervous system.
Here’s how to perform the movement:
Position 1: From a kneeling plank position – hands shoulder width apart and your feet hip width apart – simply press your hips up and try to create a straight back while pressing through the ground and lifting those hips up and pressing the heels down.
Position 2: If you are unable to press your heels down to the ground, walk in place doing the best you can to press the heels down.
Position 3: After a minute in the stretch, shift your weight into a table top or bear squat position. (You can add a few Cat and Cow movements to get some movement in the spine).
Position 4: Then press back into the Downward Dog by shifting weight back into the heels and hips up in the air.
Position 5: Remember to create a nice elongated spine by keeping your low abs pressing towards your low back and creating a double chin to straighten the neck. And don’t forget to BREATHE!
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