How To

1 Lie face-down on a mat. Place your hands on the floor beside your shoulders.
2 Push your torso up while keeping your pelvis on the floor. Draw your shoulder blades backwards and downwards.
3 Hold this position, breathing comfortably throughout.

Muscle Worked in Learn How to Do the Cobra Stretch

Primary Muscles

Lower Back The low back helps stabilize your spinal column and connects your upper body to your pelvis.

Secondary Muscles

Abs "Abs" refers to your abdominal muscles, which sit at the front of your trunk between your ribcage and pelvis
Biceps The biceps are muscles that sit at the front or your upper arms between your elbows and shoulders
Hip Flexors The hip flexors flex your leg at the hip joint, helping you to extend your legs forward.
Shoulders Your shoulders are ball-and-socket joints which connect your arms to your torso

Pro Tips

  • Your shoulders will be tempted to hunch and shrug. Allow them to relax.
  • Try not to crunch your neck up or drop your head backward. Keep a neutral neck position to avoid pain or stress to the area.
  • Spread your fingers out on the ground and try to distribute even weight between all of your knuckles. This will keep your body upright.
  • Keep your feet pointing straight back and try to ground the tops of your feet to the floor.
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Benefits

  • The cobra stretch can relieve lower back pain. This is helpful if you are often sedentary and experience stiffness in your back. For people with chronic lower back pain, cobra stretching can be a key component of a yoga program that targets pain in the low back. Learn more here: Effects of Yoga for Chronic Low Back Pain and Comparison of Yoga vs. Stretching for Chronic Low Back Pain.
  • This position may increase your flexibility and reduce pain from the hip flexors.
  • You can gently improve your arm strength by engaging the arm muscles to keep you upright.
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Alternatives

Exercises that target the same primary muscle groups with different equipment

Common Mistakes

  • Placing your hands too far out won’t let you achieve proper balance in this stretch. Try to make sure your wrists are in line with your shoulders.
  • Backbending too deeply in your cobra stretch can put excessive strain on your spine.
  • Looking up and crunching your neck backward in a cobra stretch puts pressure on your neck muscles and can cause pain.
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FAQ

Who should avoid cobra stretch?
If you are pregnant or have a back or arm injury that makes this exercise feel uncomfortable, you should be cautious or avoid cobra pose if you experience pain.
Is the cobra stretch bad for your spine?
This position can be good for your spine to give it a gentle warm-up. However, if you force a deep backbend or arch in your back, you may hurt your spine if you don’t have adequate back flexibility.
What does the cobra pose do?
Cobra stretch helps to lengthen the muscles of the core and stretch the lower back muscles all at once while you support yourself by pulling your weight up on your arms.