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What are erector spinae stretches?

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Quick Answer

Yoga teacher and writer Shawnee Randolph explains for the Houston Chronicle that the erector spinae is a group of muscles and tendons that runs vertically up the spine and aids in back bending, side bending and twisting the spine. Erector spinae stretches are exercises designed to stretch and elongate these muscles to help keep the back healthy.

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Full Answer

To keep a stretching routine safe, Randolph recommends warming up with a common yoga pose, the cat pose. A person starts by getting down on her hands and knees and places her hands directly under her shoulders with her knees hip-distance apart. Next, she inhales and arches her spine, allowing her stomach to drop toward the floor. Then, she exhales and rounds her spine like a cat and alternates between stretches for up to one minute.

Once she is done warming up, she can begin the core set of exercises. The forward bend is an effective way to stretch and lengthen the muscles along the spine. While it can be done while seated or standing, Randolph advises that standing-forward bends are safer for the low back. Side bending and spinal twisting also help stretch the erector spinae muscles. Side bends may be accomplished standing up or sitting on the ground. To perform spinal twists, a person can lie on her back with legs extended, draw her right knee in toward her chest and grab it with her left hand. After drawing her right knee over to the left, she holds for three to five breaths and repeats the movements on the opposite side.

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