Whether you’ve been lifting weights, carrying shopping bags, or just have posture issues, this stretching technique will help you to loosen up your back from nape to tailbone. Named after the common stretching positions that we associate with cats and dogs, this stretch is borrowed from yoga. But you don’t need to be a yogi in order to feel its benefits – just follow the steps below!
Cat and Dog Stretch
Begin on your hands and knees on a mat. You upper and lower legs should be at a 90 degree angle to each other and hip distance apart. Your hands should be directly beneath your shoulders. Viewed from profile, your back should be flat and your overall posture should resemble a table.
Keeping your shoulders relaxed, roll your head in between your arms as you round your back upwards. This is the “cat” portion of the stretch. You ought to look a bit like a cat when you do this, and should feel a stretching sensation down the back of your neck. Hold for one round of breathing.
As you exhale, bring your back into its flat starting position, and then continue in this direction, now arching your back so that your rib cage is lowering slightly towards the floor and your butt and head are both angled slightly upwards. Again, you should feel a stretch in your neck and also in your middle and lower back. As you may have guessed, this is the “dog” portion of the stretch. Hold for one round of breathing.
Continue to alternate between these two stretching positions until you feel limbered up, or have an urge to climb a tree or chase a car.