Awkward as it may feel, something like a "leaning penguin", this stretch is EXCELLENT for loosening tight muscles and fascial restrictions along the entire spine. This stretch may be felt anywhere from the neck down to the lower abdomen, throughout the back, the upper chest, the ribcage, and sometimes even into the arms or legs.
Standing tall with your back up against a bare wall for support, imagine yourself as a proud little penguin. Place your feet shoulder distance apart on the floor, lift shoulders up and roll them back resting your shoulder blades down flat on your back where they belong (hands should both be facing forward now, like little penguin wings). Now, keeping your face forward (to create a nice, even side arch in the spine) lean gently to the left. [NOTE: The penguin in this image is more flexible than you'll ever be, so don't try to actually tilt your head upside down, or you may end up falling over! Remember, a nice, gentle, even, spinal arch to the side is what you are going for; head in line, eyes forward.] Take five deep, slow, relaxing breaths, and lean into the stretch a little more with each breath. Come slowly up to starting position. Realign your shoulder blades (remember: lift up, roll back, drop down; hands facing forward). Lean the opposite direction, again take five deep, slow breaths, and slowly come back up to starting position.
This stretch can be done evening and morning to help ward off low back stiffness, upper body tension, and even postural distortions in the pelvis and spine.
*CAUTION: If you are prone to dizziness or have trouble with vertigo this stretch may not be right for you. If you have had any kind of surgery in the abdominal or spinal region, it is advised you talk to your doctor to ensure this stretch is appropriate for you situation. Please use common sense and appropriate caution when performing stretches of any kind. Though an appropriate stretch will generally cause a mild degree of healing discomfort, stretching should never be outright painful.
If you would like to know more about how to perform this stretch, or have other questions, please feel free to call us at 308.432.4558
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Jerri W., LMT, CWC
Licensed Massage Therapist and Certified Wellness Coach with over 25+ years of experience in pain management, relaxation techniques and lifestyle education.
Heather R., LMT, CWC
Certified Wellness Coach and Licensed Massage Therapist with a passion for helping others achieve optimal wellness through healthier living.
NOTICE: The information provided herein is meant for educational purposes only. We accept no liability for your use of the information provided. As always, use your best judgment and if in doubt, please consult your healthcare provider to determine the best course of action for your particular situation.