Step 1

Starting Position: Lie flat on your back on the floor / mat in a bent-knee position with feet placed firmly on the floor.  Position your arms to your sides with elbows extended and palms facing inwards.  Stiffen (“brace”) your abdominal muscles to stabilize your spine, depress and retract your scapulae (pull shoulders back and down) without moving your trunk and attempt to hold this positions throughout the exercise.

Step 2

“I” Formation: Gently exhale and slowly extend your arms overhead keeping your elbows extended, while maintaining your depressed shoulder position and stable spine (avoid arching your back). Individuals experiencing some limitations in their flexibility will tend to shrug their shoulders and arch their back during this movement.  Continue to move your arms overhead until your thumbs touch the floor overhead, or until you reach the point of tension, but avoid bouncing or pushing to the point of pain.  Hold this position for 15 – 30 seconds then relax and return to your starting position.  Perform 2 – 4 repetitions.

Step 3

“Y” Formation: From the same starting position, gently exhale and slowly extend your arms into the “Y” formation (45-degree angle to form the letter “Y”) as illustrated, while maintaining your elbows extended, depressed shoulder position and stable spine (avoid arching your back).  Continue to move your arms until your thumbs touch the floor in the “Y” position, or until you reach the point of tension, but avoid bouncing or pushing to the point of pain.  Hold this position for 15 – 30 seconds then relax and return to your starting position.  Perform 2 – 4 repetitions.

Step 4

“T” Formation: From the same starting position, gently exhale and slowly raise your arms until vertical with the floor, then open up to your sides into the “T” formation (90-degree angle to form the letter “T”) as illustrated, while maintaining your elbows extended, depressed shoulder position and stable spine (avoid arching your back).  Continue to move your arms until the backs of your hands touch the floor in the “T” position, or until you reach the point of tension, but avoid bouncing or pushing to the point of pain.  Hold this position for 15 – 30 seconds then relax and return to your starting position.  Perform 2 – 4 repetitions.

Step 5

“W” Formation and Wipers: From the same starting position, flex (bend) your elbows and externally rotate (turn out) your arms until the back of your forearms touch, or come close to touching the floor (forming the letter “W” as illustrated), while maintaining your elbows extended, depressed shoulder position and stable spine (avoid arching your back).  Gently exhale and slowly slide your arms overhead along the floor while maintaining your bent-elbow position until your hands touch above your head or until you reach the point of tension, but avoid bouncing or pushing to the point of pain (sometimes referred to as “snow angels”).  Hold both the “W” and overhead positions for 10 - 15 seconds then relax and slide your arms back to your “W” formation.  Perform 2 – 4 repetitions.

Exercise Variation: This stretch can become more dynamic by performing slow, controlled movements to complete 1 set of 5 - 10 repetitions in each formation, holding the end position for 1 - 2 seconds.

 

EXERCISE TIP: To maximize the benefits of a stretch and reduce the potential for injury, it is often important to stretch only to the point of tension, avoid bouncing and control movement at other segments of the body.  During this stretch, attempt to keep your scapulae (shoulders) depressed and avoid arching in your low back.

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ENDS SEPTEMBER 25