At Entegra Health Parkville, we highly recommend gentle stretching techniques between Remedial Massage treatments to effectively manage and prevent muscular tension. Stretching, breath and strength based exercises, also assists the reduction of stress, and facilitates necessary strength required to support the skeletal framework.
Benefits of Cat Cow Stretch
Cat Cow is an excellent full body stretch that effectively releases multiple muscle groups, in two fluid movements. In particular, Cat Cow is an excellent stretch for upper back, neck and shoulder tension; the abdominals, lower back and hips, and mid-thoracic tension. It’s also an excellent warm-up for the entire spine and associated muscles. As a result, Cat Cow stretch often features in various body movement classes.
How To Perform Cat Cow Stretch
Start on your hands and knees (all fours) on the floor, with your hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips, approximately shoulder width apart. Aim to keep your wrists in line with your shoulders, and your knees directly underneath your hips to ensure correct alignment, and an even distribution of weight loading across the joints.
Position 1 (Cow): Begin by curling your sacrum (tail bone) up towards the sky as high as possible. This requires an anterior (forward) tilt in the pelvis. Drop your lower back, soften the abdominals and begin rolling the spine down along the length of your spine. Continue sequentially rolling the spine down, dropping down between the shoulder blades. Finally, slowly raise the neck and head and extend your gaze towards the sky.
Position 2 (Cat): Imagine a cat curling it’s head and tail down, and arching it’s mid-back up. Starting again from the tailbone, curl it around and down, tucking your ‘tail’, and begin rolling your low to mid-spine upwards, arching your upper back as high as possible and extending your rib cage. Finally, drop your head and neck towards your chest, directing your gaze towards your stomach, making sure to keep your stomach curled in, activating the abdominal muscles.
Continue alternating between each movement slowly, holding each pose for approximately 30 seconds before rolling into the next, approximately three times each. It’s a good idea to rest into a neutral spine; either Tabletop or Child’s Pose afterwards.
Things to Keep In Mind
If you are experiencing neck pain, it is best to avoid overextending the neck throughout this stretch, and instead keep a neutral neck when extending into cow stretch, and avoid dropping the head and neck low in cat pose.
Pregnancy may also make this stretch difficult. It is best not to over-extend beyond your comfort zone, and stop at any point if you experience pain whilst performing the stretch.
If you have any questions regarding this stretch, including its suitability for you, please don’t hesitate to contact us via email; Telehealth consultation or phone. Access to additional free online resources, including our stretch and exercise videos, can be accessed via our website.