and Back Stretching
In One Exercise!
This multi-benefit abdominal stretching exercise is called the Forward-Backward Bend.
It stretches the front and back of the body, making it a perfectly balanced abdominal stretching-back stretching exercise.
You should check with your health professional first though, especially if you have a history of abdominal, back or neck problems or you haven't exercised for some time.
Forward Backward Bend
1. Stand with your feet parallel, about hip width apart, and your arms hanging
loosely by your sides.
Look straight ahead. Slightly bend your knees
(keeping your legs locked straight can strain your lower back).
Keep your weight mostly on the front of your feet.
2. Gently exhale through your mouth as you slowly bend forward.
First, bend your neck till your chin is near your chest. Continue by progressively
bending forward...first your upper back, then your mid back, followed by your lower back.
Your arms simply hang loosely in front of your body.
3. Bend as far as you comfortably can.
Take 3 slow, deep breaths in this position.
As you hang there let go of any tension in your body.
Feel your back stretching...your legs stretching...and blood flowing to your head.
You may close your eyes, but be careful you don't lose balance.
To tighten your belly, each time you exhale use your abs to pull your belly in. Relax your belly as you inhale.
4. Take a fourth breath. As you exhale, slowly and smoothly start to rise up.
Imagine you're unrolling your spine up a wall - from lower to mid to upper back & neck until
you're standing upright again.
Try to keep your weight on the front of your feet as you rise up.
Also, breathe smoothly and evenly through your nose and time your breathing so that you finish the exhalation as you reach the upright position.
Once standing, you can take a slow, deep breath or two if you like, or you can proceed straight to the next step...the abdominal stretching part of the exercise.
5. Immediately begin to slowly and smoothly raise your arms straight up in front of your body.
Breathe in at the same time.
6. As you raise your arms, lift your head and arch your spine back in one smooth, fluid motion.
Arch back as far as you comfortably can.
Exhale. Hold the position while you once again take 3 slow, deep breaths.
As you breathe, feel your arms and abs stretching.
As you exhale the third time, slowly and smoothly straighten your body, spread your arms and bring them down past the sides of your body until you're once again in the upright starting position, with arms hanging loosely by your sides.
That's one round.
Repeat steps 2 to 5 for a total of 3 rounds.
Build up to 10 or 12 rounds in a session.
- Stretches & strengthens your abs, spine & backs of legs
- Firms & tones your abs & belly
- Massages your abdominal organs
- Increases blood flow to your brain
- Improves your sleep when done just before bed
- Minor variations in technique are okay. Just do it slowly, smoothly & comfortably
- If you feel dizzy, stop, breathe deeply & try again or later
- If the backs of your legs are very tight, stand with your feet double shoulder-width, or more, apart
The Forward-Backward Bend is a remarkable exercise not just for its back and abdominal stretching benefits. Its ability to increase blood flow to the head and face and massage the abdominal muscles and organs leads to better overall health. See for yourself.
More abdominal stretching and strengthening exercises:
Ab Wheel Exercises
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