Spine stretch

Relieve tension in the hips and shoulders with this stretch that improves alignment

Spine stretch

Source: Best Health Magazine, Summer 2011; Illustration by Kagan McLeod

Who doesn’t want better posture? This quick move can help you stand (and sit) tall with ease, as it aligns the spine. It can relieve tension in the hips and shoulders, says Margot McKinnon, director of Body Harmonics Pilates in Toronto, who trains Pilates teachers across Canada and the U.S. ‘If you have lower back issues, consult your doctor or trainer before you do this stretch,’ she says.


Sitting on the floor with your feet wider than your hips, nod your head forward and begin to bend forward by hinging at the hips. Breathe normally. As you go down, draw your chin into your neck. ‘It feels like you’re rolling down the discs of the spine,’ says McKinnon. Slide your hands in front of you along the floor.

‘This stretch elongates the paraspinal muscles [the muscles beside the spine], and you may feel it in the hamstrings, calf muscles and the bottoms of the feet.’ Your hands should not reach past your toes’you’re not aiming to lie on the floor’and you shouldn’t feel as if your back and spinal ligaments are being pulled. Once you feel the stretch through your back, slowly return to the starting position. McKinnon advises doing this several times daily, after the end of your workday.

This article was originally appeared in the Summer 2011 issue of Best Health. Subscribe today to get the full Best Health experience’and never miss an issue!