- Cat /camel
Kneel down on all fours with your hands directly underneath your shoulders, your knees underneath your hips and your back in a neutral position. Start by slowly tucking the tailbone in and try to focus on flexing the spine, vertebra by vertebra, from the lumbar, to the thoracic, to the cervical. To achieve that, actively press your extended arms towards the floor and keep your abs braced throughout. Finish the rep by tucking your head in and looking in between your legs. Then, keep the head tucked as you send the tailbone towards the ceiling and coming up vertebra by vertebra, now focusing on engaging your lower back muscles, till you finish with the head looking up towards the ceiling. Alternate between arching and rounding your back so that all three sections of your spine lower, middle and upper, extend together and then flex together in a segmental manner. Do this slowly and gently!
2. Plank to Downward facing dog
Start in a high plank position with your arms under your shoulders and your legs extended, your glutes and abs tight. Keep your legs slightly wider than hip width. Push the floor away as you send your hips towards the ceiling. Keep the head between the upper arms; don’t let it hang. Keep your tail high, your spine neutral, and sink your heels towards the floor. If this feels uncomfortable, keep a slight bend in your knees. You can vary this exercise by using single leg or single arm variations, or by adding thoracic rotations as you attempt to reach your heels in each rep.
3. Hip rotations (quadruped or standing)
Start with your knees under your hips and your hands under your shoulders, in a quadruped position. Brace your core. To achieve that, take a deep breath, exhale and hold. Then start bringing your knee forward with the pelvis remaining stable, and the spine neutral. Start to abduct and externally rotate by bringing the knee high. At this point you should start internally rotating at the hip while trying to reach full hip extension. Bring the knee at the starting position and reverse the motion to complete 1 full repetition. Try to feel your glute working.
You can progress this exercise by doing it in a standing position. In this variation you are also fighting gravity. Start with a big brace, keep your pelvis and chest pointing forwards and bring your knee up as high as you can, without compensating at the lower back. Start to rotate the leg out to the side and try to keep that knee up high as you rotate out. Come to full hip extension with the knee is bent and then reverse the motion. Make sure to not fall forward; try to stay tall with your core engaged throughout.
4. World’s Greatest stretch
Begin in a plank position with hands under shoulders. Step your left foot towards the outside of your left hand. Your right knee should remain above the floor. Now move your left elbow inside towards your left foot and actively push the knee out slightly. Your hips should remain square and your back as flat as possible. Keep the back leg extended by squeezing your glute and quad. Continue the movement by moving your left hand outside of your left foot and rotate and reach towards the ceiling. Complete the movement by returning your left hand back to its starting position, left foot returning you back into a plank position. Repeat the movement on your right side.
5. Lateral band walk and monster walks
Both exercises aim at activating and strengthening your glutes and hip abductors, as well as improving hip stability. Position a band above or below your knees to make the exercise easier or harder, respectively. Push your hips back and drive laterally into the ground with your grounded leg while stepping with your opposite leg. Try to keep tension to the band. Don’t let your knees cave in. For the monster walk push your hips back, then start walking in a diagonal way by bringing the foot towards your center line and then back out again with each step. Try to push hard to the ground with each step.
6. The Bird dog
The Bird Dog has been a popular core and spinal stabilization exercise. Made famous by low-back specialists and functional training experts Stuart McGill, Gray Cook and Mike Boyle, the Bird Dog has been shown to be an effective movement which reinforces proper spinal alignment and core recruitment. With your spine neutral, kneel on the floor in a quadruped position, with your knees under your hips and your hands under your shoulders. Raise your opposite arm and leg straight out, keeping your abs braced, as if you are punched in the stomach. Keep your whole body in one straight line from head to foot. Try to resist rotation in your pelvis. Alternate between right and left sides.