If you are looking for a quick and simple movement to just give your body a break then the cat cow stretch is the perfect one for you. Cat-Cow is said to improve posture and balance which is super for anyone with back pain. The synchronized breath and movement also helps your body to relax and ease any of the stress built up throughout the day.

In this article, we’ll be discussing:

  • What is the cat and cow stretch?
  • How to do cat and cow
  • What are the benefits of a cat cow stretch?
  • Who is the cat and cow stretch suitable for / not suitable for?

What Is The Cat and Cow Exercise?

The Cat Cow Stretch is a great movement if you are looking for something quick to do, whilst ticking a lot of the boxes!

The cat and cow exercise is simply the combination of two stretches which gently stretch and warm up the spine as you breathe in and out. Curving the spine up and down helps to improve blood circulation between the vertebrae and helps to relieve back pain and stress.

Understanding how to weight-bear is key if you want to move onto bigger Pilates movements like a plank. In this position you are holding yourself up against gravity which is a great way to strengthen your back muscles and automatically improve your posture.

How To Do Cat Cow?

  • Begin on your hands and knees in table top, with a neutral spine
  • As you breathe in, curve your spine down lift your sit bones upward, press your chest forward and allow your belly to sink
  • Lift your head, relax your shoulders away from your ears, and keep your gaze straight ahead
  • As you breathe out, round your spine upwards, tucking the tailbone, and drawing your pubic bone forward
  • Release your head toward the floor and relax
  • Repeat as many times as you feel is best for you

Cat and Cow Exercise Tips

  • Get your head involved!
    • Your head is part of your spine so needs to follow it! Try to avoid letting it hang down completely and hinging to look high towards the sky. Instead, move your gaze gently and try to keep length in the back of your neck.
  • You should get no back pain!
    • If you are feeling this movement in your lower back, you are likely moving from there. Remember your pelvic clock please link to pelvic clock as this is the basis of this movement. Your spine should respond like a chain of dominos.
  • Use a mirror
    • This is a great way of seeing how you are moving if you are unsure. Go sideways on and make sure that you are getting a distributed movement rather than a large arch in your back.
  • Use your breath
    • Try using your inhale breath to help your extension, and exhale breath to help you flex. If you are hypermobile, try reversing your breath to give you more stability.

Cat Cow Stretch Benefits

There are many benefits of the cat cow pose in that it increases flexibility of the neck, shoulders, and spine. The movement also stretches the muscles of the hips, back, abdomen, chest, and lungs.

At its peak the cat stretch can help to relieve tension of the upper back and neck while the cow pose increases the curves in the thoracic and sacral spine..

Cat Cow is great for:

Who is Cat Cow suitable for?

The cat cow stretch is suitable for anyone, especially those who spend the majority of their day sitting and/or have a bad posture, as the curving and flexing of the spine can help improve circulation in the discs in the back. It’s also suitable for anyone who may be feeling stressed as each movement is performed while breathing in and out. Therefore providing that calming, meditative motion.

Who Is Cat Cow Not Suitable For?

This movement can be done safely when pregnant. If you have a neck injury or are being extra mindful of your neck then always keep your head in alignment with the torso.
You may need to modify the surface you are on if your knees struggle with weight bearing or try the same movement in standing with your hands on a table.

Do seek advice from your GP or consult with an exercise specialist such as a Clinical Pilates Instructor for your own individual advice.

Why do the Cat Cow exercise?

The cat and the cow pose is wonderful as it can be done as a part of a warm up routine, a relaxation sequence, or as an exercise to prevent back pain.

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.

Get in touch online or contact us on 0203 764 5668 for further information.

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.