If you spend a lot of time at your desk and want better posture or you always complain that your back is sore and stiff then the open book stretch, also known as book openings, is the movement for you!

Book openings are great for improving mobility through the spine, particularly through the thoracic region.  They are also a wonderful stretch for the chest and provide great shoulder mobility.

In this article, we’ll be discussing:

  • What are book openings?
  • How to do book openings?
  • What are the benefits of book endings?
  • Who are book openings suitable for / not suitable for?

What Are Book Openings?  Or What Is The Open Book Stretch?

Book openers or open book stretches are great if your back is sore and stiff. They are great for beginners and are so easy to do at home with just a mat. They are also ideal if you spend the majority of your day at a desk or on hunching over a phone.

They provide release and stretch for chest muscles as well as movement and mobilisation for your arms, shoulder, head and neck.

Purposes of book openings:

  • mobilise your thoracic spine
  • challenges your pelvic stability
  • encourages deeper breathing by opening the chest
  • Great for any digestive issues you might have

How To Do Book Openings?

Your spine loves to twist, so you will feel instant results! The best part is you can do this anywhere, including in bed so it can be a great starter to your day.

  • Start by lying on your side with your feet in line with the back of your pelvis. If you don’t like lying on your side. there should always be pillows under your head to support your neck.
  • Inhale, feeling the breath come down to your lower rib cage and tummy, keeping the shoulders relaxed.
  • Lift the top arm up and over behind your back. Follow your hand with your eyes. Concentrate on keeping the pelvis and lower legs still and facing forwards.
  • As you rotate around, sigh out to allow your body to rest
  • You can pause in the rotation to take a few breaths. This will encourage your mid back (thoracic) rotation as well as rib mobility.
  • Breathe out as you bring the arm back around to the start position.
  • Repeat

Book Opening Exercise Tips

  • Keep your hand on the floor
    Trying to keep your hand on the floor during the progression is a great way to help improve your shoulder range. Take this slowly and allow your shoulder blade to move to help your mobility.
  • Allow your pelvis to move
    Having someone hold you still will not help. Instead it will only make you twist from the most mobile segment in your spine. Instead, try reaching the top thigh along the bottom though. This will pick up the slack in the system and give you more of a stretch. The best part is that you control this meaning you are not forced to move somewhere you are not ready to!
  • Use your breath
    Once you are in your stretch, try using lateral breathing techniques. This will help you to gain some of the accessory movements around your mid back and ribs, giving you more mobility. It will also give your muscles a chance to settle, meaning you can go a little further.
  • Take your time
    The more gentle you are with yourself, and the more time you give your body to settle, the more likely you are to gain more movement.
  • Try strength afterwards
    Opening up a new range of movement is great. However, remember that you need strength to stay there. Try some other exercises such as bridging, sumo squats exercise video page or knee hovers to help you stay in this new range

Book Openings Benefits

Book openings are great for:

  • improving mobility through the spine, particularly through the thoracic region.
  • stretching the chest
  • improving shoulder mobility
  • encouraging deep breathing
  • improving digestion

Who Are Book Openings Suitable For?

Book openings are suitable for anyone who has any discomfort in their back, anyone who plays lots of sports or anyone who feels they need a restorative stretch around their upper back and shoulders.

Who Are Book Openings Not Suitable For?

Book opener exercises may not be suitable for you if you find they aggravate your back pain. Do avoid or seek advice from your GP or a physiotherapist to see if this exercise is right for you. If it just isn’t working, then consult with an exercise specialist such as a Clinical Pilates Instructor for your own individual advice.

Get in touch online or contact us on 0203 764 5668 for further information and advice!

Why Do Book Openings?

Why not! As this article highlights, there are so many benefits to book openings.

If you are new to exercise at Complete Pilates, we would advise you to always speak to your doctor or physiotherapist before starting a new exercise routine, especially if you have any health concerns or are new to fitness.

If you would like more information, then do reach out to our team of clinical Pilates instructors here at Complete Pilates who are all trained to safely treat and create manageable plans to keep you healthy.

Education is key:

These blogs are designed to give information to everyone, however, it is important to remember that everyone is different! If you have not seen one of our therapists and have any questions about injuries, what you have read or whether this may be useful to you, please just ask.

At Complete Pilates we would advise you to always speak to your doctor, physiotherapist, or clinical Pilates instructor here at Complete Pilates if you are worried about starting a new exercise regime.
We are more than happy to help anyone and point you in the right direction. Our biggest belief is that education is key. The more you understand about your injury, illness and movement, the more you are likely to improve.