Step 1

Starting Position: Kneel on an exercise mat or floor positioning your knees and feet hip-width apart, with your feet plantar-flexed (toes pointing away from your body).  Stiffen your core and abdominal muscles ("bracing") to stabilize your spine and pelvis.

 

Step 2

Slowly lean forward while bending from the hips and maintaining the abdominal bracing to keep the spine straight, place your hands on the bench while keeping the arms straight with the elbows extended and position the arms so there is a straight line from the shoulders, through the elbows to the wrists.

 

Step 3

With your hands on the bench, keep your knees directly under your hips while leaning back into your hips to increase the stretch into the upper back.  Maintain the stiff core with the abdominal bracing to keep the spine straight and the pelvis level.  Keep your chin tucked into your neck to stabilize your cervical spine and to keep your head from dropping towards the floor.

 

Step 4

Hold the stretch position for approximately 30-45 seconds, to increase the stretch into the latissimus dorsi (back) muscles, slowly rotate your thumbs to point up towards the ceiling.  Repeat 2-4 times.

 

Step 5 

Exercise Variation: To increase the stretch, supinate the palms (turn the palms up to face the ceiling) while leaning back into your hips. 

 

Exhale as you lean back into your hips, and do not let your head drop towards the ground. 

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