Downward-Facing Dog on the Desk (Lower Back)
More likely than not, right now you’re sitting in a slouched position with shoulders hunched down and your head craned forward. (Okay, you’re probably sitting taller now that I caught you). We all get into bad habits of sitting, which can put a lot of strain on the lower back. When we sit with a rounded back, we can put as much as 275 lbs. of pressure on the spinal discs in the lower back. No wonder most of us have experienced a “tight” lower back at some point or another. The following exercise helps lengthen the spine and gives you a good stretch not only for your back, but for your hamstrings as well.
What you need:
– A desk or chair
What to do:
1) Stand one foot away from your desk and lean your hands onto the edges of your desk. Walk your feet back until your back is parallel to the floor.
2) If your back is rounded and you have a difficult time flattening the back, you can try bending your knees. (When you bend your knees, it gives a little bit more “slack” to your lower back muscles, allowing them to extend).
3) Keep a firm grip on the desk but relax the shoulders. Pull your hips back away from your head to lengthen the spine. Melt the chest down toward the floor to help stretch open the chest muscles and front shoulder muscles.
4) Stay for at least 5 full, slow breaths.
5) To come out, exhale to engage the abdomen, lift the head and chest first, then walk your feet in toward the desk. Keep your hands on the desk as you breathe upright in the standing position for another 2-3 breaths.
Why this works:
This pose temporarily relieves the load on the lower back by stretching into a horizontal position for the spine. The arms reaching upwards over the head tractions the upper part of the spine, while the movement of the hips backwards away from the head tractions the lower part of the spine. By softening the chest down toward the floor, you get the added bonus of stretching the front of the shoulders and the chest. For those with tighter hamstrings, this is also a good pose to lengthen the hamstring muscles.
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