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Learn Pilates Exercises to Help Decrease Back Pain

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Updated May 10, 2010

7 of 10

Cat / Cow
cat cow exercise

Pilates and Yoga Cat - Cow

Adam Lussier (c)2009, Marguerite Ogle

Cat-cow moves between a back stretch and a back extension exercise. It promotes flexibility in the spine. Many people use it as a warm-up exercise.

Begin Cat - Cow:

Begin on your hands and knees. Your hands are directly under your shoulders, and your knees are directly under you hips. Your toes can be curled under if that is comfortable.

Engage your abdominal muscles to support your spine so that you have a straight line from your ear to your hip.

Inhale. Then, on your exhale, pull your abdominal muscles in and up as you arch your back way up like a stretching cat. At the same time, let your head and tailbone drop down toward the floor.

Take the stretch further by imagining that you are bringing your head and tailbone together, as if you were going to make a big circle of your body.

Next, move to the cow pose part of this exercise:

From cat pose, use an inhale to reverse the curve of the spine. Your tailbone moves up and your chest moves forward and up. Your neck moves as a long extension of your spine. Don't let your head fall back.

Support this move with your abdominals. This is a lengthening exercise for the spine. Please don't collapse like an old horse!

Repeat the exercise - going from cat to cow and back - slowly, with the breath at least two more times.

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