8. The Spine Stretch
At first glance The Spine Stretch (or spine stretch forward) looks like the sit and reach portion of the Presidential Fitness Test you suffered through every year in grade school. It is not the same thing. It's so much more than sit and reach. The goal/intention of this exercise is not to see how far you can reach over your feet, but to spread the movement out equally throughout the entire posterior (back) side of the body. When the motion is spread out, you can really mobilize the muscles/fascia effectively and quickly. To read more about mobilizing, rather than "stretching", read this conveniently timed blog post.
Classical version: seated with knees straight, legs spread as far apart as possible, ankles flexed/toes to ceiling, arms at sides, palms on the floor
Recommended version: seated with legs as straight as possible, legs mat width (shoulder width) apart, ankles flexed/toes to ceiling, neutral spine (as hamstrings will allow), arms at shoulder height, palms facing each other.
1. Exhale to soften sternum and roll down one vertebrae at a time, reaching arms towards/over toes. Keep the arms parallel to the floor.
2. Inhale tip pubic bone towards your nose to stack your spine back to vertical. Repeat 3-6 times attempting to increase the reach with each repetition.
Variations: classical version is to slide palms on floor rather than maintain arms horizontal. Can also roll an exercise ball towards/away from pelvis (see video)
To aid stability through low back and pelvis: keep pubic bone tipped towards nose.
To decrease head/neck/shoulder tension: find arm pit muscles (serratus anterior) to keep shoulder blades from shifting up to ears, open through the back of the neck with a slight chin tuck.
Modifications: bend knees or sit on rolled mat/yoga block for tight hamstrings, sit cross-legged or in a chair to completely eliminate hamstring involvement, can maintain neutral spine and hinge at the hips (for those with osteoporsis/osteopenia).