Open Book Stretch

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This is a great stretch for the mid-back. So if you regularly feel tension or stiffness around your back, rib cage, or abdomen, try this out. Even if your torso region seems very flexible, this can still be a fun way to introduce more movement to a section of the spine that often ends up pretty stiff in today’s movement culture.

Part 1:

Lie down on your side with your knees and hips at 90°. Lay your arms horizontally in front of you, one on top of the other. If it helps you be comfortable, you can have a pillow under your head.

Open Book

The most important part is to have your knees together. If you had a book standing propped against your knees (perpendicular to the floor), both knees should be touching the book the whole time.

Slowly slide your top hand along the bottom arm to your chest, allowing your shoulder and rib cage to follow the movement. Here, keep your hand rooted to your chest and reach through your elbow like you want to lift your heart up through your hand and elbow. You should have a 120° angle between your elbow and your other arm. You should feel the stretch in the middle of your spine, but you may feel the stretch in different places based on your particular body. Hangout here as long as feels appropriate, and take your time going in and out of the position.

Open Book (2)

The arrows in this picture indicate direction of stretch, not movement.

Notice that when you allowed your spine to twist, your top knee may have slid back. Don’t let this happen! Keep your knees together. The first time you do this stretch, it may be best to do it with a friend who can put their hand flat against your knees and alert you to when you are allowing your knee to come along for the ride. I also like to think of the stretch as going in two directions, reaching out with my elbow, and reaching the opposite direction with my top knee.

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Part 2:

Begin lying on one side in the same position as part 1 (knees and hips 90/90, arms flat on top of one another).

Pretend your top hand is holding a piece of chalk. Slowly draw a circle in the ground with the chalk, starting with your hand out in front of you and tracing as far as you can go over your head while keeping your fingertips still touching the floor. Stop and hold the stretch wherever you can’t keep touching the ground.

Open Book (3)

Remember to keep your knees from sliding apart!!

This stretch is best done slowly. Really take time to draw that chalk circle, and feel free to double back over parts that feel extra stiff.

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When:

I like doing this stretch after a long day of work, whether that work was done bending over in the garden, bending over doing massage, or bending over in concentration at the computer. However, you can really do this anytime you have enough floor space to draw that chalk circle. Find an empty spot in your workplace and make your co-workers jealous of your stellar stretching regimen.

 

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