Your back muscles perform two primary purposes: providing pulling power in any plane of motion, plus stabilizing and extending the spine. In order to stretch any given muscle, you must lengthen it, performing the opposing motion to what the muscle normally performs. In this case that means spinal flexion plus shoulder abduction and flexion. Hold each static stretch for about 30 seconds. Don’t push the stretches to the point of pain. Focus on breathing normally throughout each stretch.
Video of the Day
Trunk flexion is the stability ball version of the standard cat stretch. Drape yourself, stomach down, over a stability ball so that it supports your spine. Relax entirely, letting yourself sag forward over the ball until you feel a stretch throughout your back.
Your latissimus dorsi extend and abduct your arms at the shoulders. Just imagine pulling back or down on something in front of or above you, respectively, with a wide or narrow grip. You can put the stability ball’s wont to roll to good use for this stretch.
Kneel in front of the stability ball. Place both hands on the ball, palms down, and walk your hands along the ball, rolling it away from you. Lean forward from the hips as you do this, as if you were kowtowing to the ball, until you feel a stretch in your armpits.
Lower Back Stretch
The stability ball provides extra support in this variation on the classic supine lower back stretch. Start by lying on the floor, face up, with your heels resting on top of the stability ball. Draw both knees in toward your chest, letting the contact of your heels on the stability ball roll it toward you, supporting your legs, until you feel a stretch in your lower back.
Pelvic circles are a dynamic lower back stretch. Instead of holding this stretch for 30 seconds, focus on making smooth, relaxed movements and letting go of any tension in your lower back.
Sit down on the stability ball, feet planted flat on the floor, hip width apart. Place both hands behind your head and allow your elbows to flare out. Focus on sitting up straight with good posture, elongating your spine and opening your chest. Move your hips in a slow, clockwise circle three times, then repeat three times going counterclockwise.