Individuals are either tight or super flexible.
A backbend is a challenging yet integral part of any yoga, acrobatics or flexibility routine. Backbends help to increase spinal extension and counteract the effects of gravity that are continuously pulling you forward. Backbends should never be painful. To avoid injury and develop your backbend naturally, it's important to prepare the major muscles associated with back bending -- the rhomboids, trapezius, hamstrings, quadriceps, triceps, pectoris minor, core muscles and hip flexors -- with adequate stretching before attempting a full backbend of any sort. While back bending, pay special attention to your form and learn to lengthen through the front of your body to avoid compressing the lower back.
Warm up the entire body before attempting any backbends. If you are familiar with yoga, warm up with several Sun Salutations. Otherwise, warm up with five to 10 minutes of cardiovascular exercise or jogging in place.
Stretch and prepare the chest and triceps muscles with Puppy pose. Get on your hands and knees. Keep your hips lifted and walk your hands out, extending both sides of your body; Drop your chest and armpits and rest your forehead toward the mat. Hold this stretch for 15 seconds.3.
Stretch the hip flexors and quadriceps with low lunges. Keep your right foot forward and step your left foot back, bending the right knee directly over the right ankle and keeping the left heel lifted. Bring your hands to the mat on the inside and outside of your right foot. Lift your left thigh up and drop your hips straight down. Breathe deeply and hold for a minimum of 15 seconds. Repeat with the left leg.
Know Your Limitations1.
Determine whether you're a tight or a super flexible individual. Tight individuals tend to have a smaller range of motion than flexible people and should stretch their chest, shoulders and hips daily. Flexible people, on the other hand, often overextend their lower backs when back bending, increasing their likelihood of injury; they should build core strength through exercises that strengthen their abdominals and back.
Stretch your shoulders. Hold a towel with your right hand and bend your right elbow, dropping the towel behind your head. Bend your left elbow and reach up with your left hand to hold onto the end of the towel. Slowly inch the hands toward one another, getting a deep stretch throughout the entire shoulder area. Hold for five to 10 seconds, then switch arms. Office workers, runners, cyclists and athletes are especially tight in the shoulders and can really benefit from this stretch.3.
Focus your back-bending practice on core-strengthening exercises, particularly if you are super flexible. Start in the top of a pushup position with your palms and toes pressing hard into a mat, thighs lifted, wrists directly under the shoulders and belly button pulling up toward your spine. Hold this position and breathe for 15 to 30 seconds to start. Repeat a minimum of three times.
Back Bending Form1.
Extend the front of your body. Avoid collapsing segments of your spine. Especially extend your lumbar or lower spine but gently contract your abdominal muscles to avoid overextending it. Abdominal contraction also helps to create more space between your spinal vertebrae.2.
Rotate your knees inward energetically. Do not let your knees and toes rotate outward, as this compresses parts of the spine, particularly the lower, lumbar spine. If outward hip and knee rotation occurs, the gluteus maximus and hip muscles do most of the work; by pulling the knees in toward one another, the deeper gluteal muscles are activated instead, giving the vertebrae more space to extend the spine fully.3.
Align your elbows directly over your wrists and point your fingertips toward your shoulders. Avoid letting your elbows bow out too wide to the sides when pressing up into a backbend.
Lie on your back with your feet hip-distance apart, heels close to your body and toes straight ahead. Place your hands near your shoulders with the fingertips facing toward them. Press your hands and feet down evenly and lift your navel to the ceiling. Externally rotate your shoulders to widen your back and inwardly rotate the inner thighs. This is a full backbend, or Wheel pose in yoga.2.
Modify Wheel pose if it's too difficult for you with Bridge pose. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feel close to your hips. Exhale and lift your hips and pelvis up, walking your shoulders underneath you. Interlace your hands underneath your lower back. Hug your thighs in toward one another.3.
Try Bow pose for the safest backbend variation. Lie on your belly. Bend your knees, roll your shoulders open and grab your ankles. Gently kick into your hands and feel a passive stretch in your chest. Keep your hips and knees in one line as you lift your body higher.
- Yoga mat
- To help avoid compressing the lower back during back bending, place the palms of your hands on blocks.
- Another way to avoid lower-back compression during backbends is to place a strap tightly around your middle upper thighs. Press your legs gently out into the strap as you lift and press into a backbend.
- Super flexible people are more prone to injury during back bending because they tend to overextend their lower back: If you are super flexible, avoid arching to your maximum level and instead, stay strong and stable in your backbends.