Before you do this next section, warm up with parts 1 and 2 and then continue with part 3.
The next 3 exercises are prone – laying on your front. The collective aim of these exercises is to work your back and posterior shoulder muscles, building strength and stability. If you know you have a sore or stiff lower back then put a pillow or two under your pelvis to support you. If it still hurts to lay on your front with the pillow under you then do not do these exercises!
8. Prone Shoulder Connection
Stability; the muscles you are using are very important for shoulder stability, arm stability and strengthening.
Start position: Lying face down on a mat with your head, spine and toes lengthened, your hands directly under your shoulders and your elbows pointing almost up to the ceiling.
- INHALE: through the nose to prepare.
- EXHALE: through pursed lips, draw your abdominal muscles in away from the mat, slide your shoulder blades down your back and hover your hands 2cms up off the mat, keeping your arms close to your sides.
- INHALE: lower your hands.
In the photo above I do actually have my hands off the mat in the hover position, so you can see the hovering hands are very low but you will feel this a lot between your shoulders and into your armpits.
TIP: you may need a small cushion under your forehead for support. Keep your head down and remember to turn on your abs before you move!
Do up to, but no more than 10 repetitions.
9. Thoracic Hover
Stability and strengthening; it works the middle/upper back and shoulders as well as the deep spinal muscles.
Start position: Lying face down on a mat with your head relaxed on the mat (or a small pillow), your spine lengthened and arms long by your sides and your legs lined up with the sitting bones (the bones you sit on, under your bum!).
- INHALE: through the nose to prepare.
- EXHALE: through pursed lips, draw your abdominal muscles in away from the mat and hover the head, breast bone and arms off the mat turning the hands in to face your sides.
- Imagine creating space between your vertebras as you lengthen up and keep the spine really long.
- INHALE: stay.
- EXHALE: lengthen down to the mat.
TIP: Keep your bottom ribs in contact with the mat, you should never feel this in your lower back, if you do you’ve hovered up too high – it is only a small hover. Do 6 repetitions.
10. Full Spinal Extension
Stretching and strengthening; working all the deep and superficial spinal muscles as well your bottom, legs, abdominals, arms and shoulder girdle – everything! In fact the only thing that is relaxed in this exercise is your breath!
The start position for this exercise is the same as the Prone Shoulder Connection except your legs are wider apart, just slightly wider than hip distance.
- INHALE: through your nose, tuck your toes under and flex your ankle joint so you can feel all your toes pressing into the floor.
- SLOWLY EXHALE: through pursed lips roll your shoulders back and start to float your breast bone up away from the mat, simultaneously push your big toes into the mat and shrink your bottom cheeks rolling your pubic bone into your chest, feel your ribs slide together right from the bottom rib all the way up to your breast bone.
- Press your hands into the mat and start to extend your arms simultaneously tightening your bottom as much as possible, pushing more through your feet and raising your breast bone and head up to the ceiling.
- INHALE: Stay lifted up in position.
TIP: You should feel like EVERYTHING is working hard to keep you in full extension. Keep your head up and your collarbones wide with your shoulders down your back, away from your ears!
EXHALE: gently lengthen down to the mat from you tail to your head, feel like your growing your head away from your bottom and creating space in your spine. KEEP YOUR ABDOMINAL MUSCLES TURNED ON!!!
There is an awful lot going on in this exercise even though it seems simple, please do not try to extend up too high on your first go. Take your time and make sure you’ve read the instructions through thoroughly before you try it. Do up to 5 repetitions.