This ‘Kneeling Backstroke’ Move Unwinds Back and Shoulder Tension

Photo: Getty/Credit: Anupong Thongchan / EyeEm
Okay, let’s talk back pain. Whether it’s from sitting at a computer screen day after day or maybe neglecting being thoughtful about your posture (You were right, Mom!), it’s time to check in and if there's tension, you can help your body to turn things around. East River Pilates’ Brian Spencer has the fix—and it’s as easy as doing a stretch. Seriously.

In just the amount of time it takes to brew a pot of coffee or steep your tea, you can work to strengthen your posture and soothe those back muscles, all while toning and sculpting your trunk. Not to mention, it’s a fantastic start to the day. Spencer's 15-minute upper body posture sequence leads you through juicy chest openers and moves masquerading as stretches that take aim at your sore postural muscles. While each move in this video is gold, for those really feeling the back pain, look at the time marker 7:30 for an example of the stretch we're suggesting below and make this one a regular part of your routine.

Try this shoulder stretch to undo tension

1. Begin on all fours in a hands and knees position. Lift your left arm up with your hand vertical and your palm facing your face, drawing your shoulder down. Inhale, then reach the left arm up and back, like you are making a big, slow backstroke movement with a full rotation of the arm. Then, your palm rotates facing down on the back movement, all while keeping your arm straight. Picture yourself doing laps in a pool. During each rotation, your palm is facing upward as it lifts (like you’re scooping water).

2. Sweep the left arm forward and repeat.

3. During each rotation, you’re simultaneously working and strengthening the opposite arm. “This is an exercise that looks like it is such a good stretch,” Spencer says. “It is! But your right arm and shoulder will be working.”

To really perfect your form a few tips: “Press the right arm down as you make that backstroke,” Spencer says. “If we are talking about finding less compression in our spine and more mobility for our-mid back to both lengthen and support the upper and lower spine, we need to pay attention to mobilizing and strengthening.”

4. Repeat on the right side.

Check out the video below for Spencer's demonstration and more posture-improving moves.

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