January 23, 2011

Caution on this exercise:

The yoga plough is another high-risk exercise.  This move is done on your back by bringing your legs up in the air, and then backwards behind the head and neck.  The purpose of this exercise is usually to stretch the lower back, but it involves transfer of body weight onto the cervical spine.  This causes an extreme amount of flexion to the neck and can cause significant problems.  Many fitness experts advise against this move for everyone, but for those with osteoporosis, neck or back problems, the plough is especially dangerous.
You may protest because this is a common move in yoga classes, but a good instructor will prescreen the students and give a modification for those at risk.  You will also be taught how to progress in a slow and safe manner. 
Unfortunately, many have transferred this out of yoga and into a fast ballistic type movement.  I see legs flung up in an uncontrolled manner and compromised necks almost every time I am in the gym.
Below are two much safer ways to stretch your back:

1.Knees to chest:

For knees to chest; lie on your back, bend your knees, grab your thighs with both hands and gently pull your knees to your chest.

 2. Back extensions:
For a back extension; lie on your stomach, place your hands under your shoulders with your arms bent, then lift your torso as your straighten your arms.  You do not have to straighten your arms all the way; make sure you keep your hips on the floor.  Hold each stretch for at least 20 seconds and then repeat.

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