The cat stretch is a great exercise that helps to increase flexibility in the lower back and core muscles. This exercise can not only be used during warm-ups and cool-downs, but may also be effective as a rehabilitation exercise for people who have recently experienced an injury to the lower back. Be sure to perform the exercise in front of a mirror during the first few attempts in order to achieve optimal results and prevent injury.About the Cat Stretch
The cat stretch is a great exercise that can be included in the warm-up or cool-down portion of your current exercise routine. This exercise targets the muscles in the lower back. Stretching these muscles can not only aid in the treatment of back pain, but may actually help in its prevention. When performing this stretch for the first time, consider finding a room with a large mirror that allows you to view your body. This will ensure that the stretch is performed properly, with little chance of injury.Positioning Your Body for the Cat Stretch
Before you actually perform the cat stretch, it is important to position your body properly. Start by finding a room that has a large mirror. Dance, yoga, or Pilates studios are great examples of places that this pose should be practiced during the first few attempts. Clear a large area on the floor, and set down a yoga or exercise mat. Come down onto the floor on all fours, making sure your knees are under your hips with your shins placed firmly on the ground. Look down at your hands. They should be placed directly under your shoulders with your fingers spaced widely apart and facing forward. Look down at the space between your hands. You should be in a flat tabletop position in a straight line from your head to your tailbone.Performing the Cat Stretch
Now that you are positioned properly, you can begin to perform the cat stretch. Start by taking a deep breath. As you exhale, use the muscles in your core to push your belly towards your spine, curving your back toward the ceiling. Hold this pose for a count of 10 before relaxing back into the original position. Repeat this maneuver another two to three times in order to achieve optimal results.Increasing the Intensity of the Cat Stretch
As with most stretches, the best way to increase the intensity is through a combination of holding the stretch for a longer period of time and increasing the distance that the muscles are stretched. Each time that you perform this stretch, try to push your spine a bit higher towards the ceiling. In addition, with every performance of this stretch, try to hold it for another two or three seconds. When stretching, be sure to use common sense. Don't stretch to the point of pain, as this can cause serious injury.