The open book or book opener stretch is an exercise that involves the movement of Pilates. The movement rotates the spine gently while mobilizing your shoulders and stretching the chest.
The exercise is easy to do and convenient because it does not require special equipment. Provided you have a soft surface; you are good to go.
The open book exercise is common in physical therapy and is great for daily stretches.
It is also known as book opener stretch.
Targeted muscles: The back, shoulders, hips, and chest
Requirements: Mat (optional)
Difficulty level: Intermediate.
- Lay on one side, keeping your knees in line with your hips, your legs bent, and your arms straight in front of you.
- Raise your upper arm over your body and make sure it points towards the ceiling. Breathe in through the movement.
- Follow the path of your stretched arm with your head and allow your chest and arm to rotate with the movement.
- Allow your spine and chest to continue the movement until you feel the area around your chest beginning to stretch. Breathe out during this movement.
- Lie flat on your back, ensuring that your hips stay in their original position when you start the rotation.
- Hold that position for a few seconds, then rotate your body back to the starting position.
- Repeat the rep 5 to 10 times.
MUSCLES WORKED BY THE OPEN BOOK EXERCISE
The open book exercise targets the chest, the thoracic region around the spine, and the frontal shoulders. It also works the abdominals and maintains a stable core around the hip region. The gentle rotation as you twist your spine, chest, and shoulders strengthens the muscles around your core.
BENEFITS OF OPEN-BOOK EXERCISE
The book opener exercise stabilizes the core by gently rotating the spine and the chest while keeping your hips in a constant position. A strengthened core comes with many benefits, such as stability, good posture, and balance.
IT PREVENTS UPPER BODY STIFFNESS
If you are a person who spends long hours behind a desk, then the open book exercise will help you release the stress on your upper body. It will loosen the neck, shoulders, and back muscles.
It is also good for people who do a lot of strength training as those exercises can tighten your upper body muscles. The open book exercise will help you loosen those muscles and prevent your upper body from stiffness.
Since the exercise involves the rotation of the spine’s thoracic region, it will improve your mobility. The thoracic region of the spine is responsible for the movement of other body parts. Keeping it in good shape will improve the mobility of those parts.
The open book exercise gently stretches the chest, arm, and shoulder muscles, improving mobility. The improved mobility will prevent you from unnecessary injuries. Also, the workout loosens stiff upper body muscles, which will also help you avoid injuries.
ALTERNATIVES TO THE OPEN BOOK EXERCISE
Knee to chest stretch
The knee to chest stretch is a perfect alternative to the open book exercise because it can relieve pain and tension by elongating the lower back. It is also a physiotherapy exercise that benefits the body in many ways.
- Lie on the floor with your back.
- Bend your knees, ensuring that both your feet are in the air.
- Using both hands, pull one knee towards your chest.
- Hold the knee against your chest for 5-10 seconds. Make sure your press your spine on the floor.
- Return your pressed knee to the starting position.
- Repeat the rep with the opposite leg.
Lower back rotation stretches
The lower back rotation stretch is an exercise that exerts pressure on your lower back and the trunk. Also, it works the core muscles, improving core stability. It is almost similar to the open book exercise, except it focuses on rotating your lower back.
- Lie on a flat surface with your knees bent.
- Keep your shoulders pressed on the ground and roll both knees to one side.
- Hold your knees in that position for 5-10 seconds.
- Return to the starting position.
- Repeat the second step, rolling your knees to the opposite side.
- Repeat the rep 2 -3 times.
MISTAKES TO AVOID WHEN PERFORMING THE OPEN BOOK EXERCISE
ARCHING/ROUNDING THE SPINE.
Arching or rounding the spine can cause spinal injuries during the rotation phase of the exercise. To avoid spinal injuries, make sure you keep your spine neutral. You can do that by not rounding your back.
FAILING TO ENGAGE THE CORE MUSCLES
One way of doing the open book exercise correctly is by failing to engage your core muscles. This might lead to instability of the lumbar region and cause hip injuries. Make sure you engage your core muscles to increase your lumbar stability.
BEING COMFORTABLE IN AN UNCOMFORTABLE POSITION
Some people often become comfortable when their back and hips are too tight. Tight hips and back are a red flag. If you experience them, adjust your feet to about 45 degrees to increase your range of motion.
You might injure your spine if you constantly round and arch it. Spinal injuries can be catastrophic and might lead to permanent paralysis or even death. Avoid spinal injuries by assuming the correct position during the workout.
The open book exercise is effective for relaxing your chest, shoulder, and lumbar muscles. If you are a bodybuilder and are heavy weight lifter, chances are, your chest and shoulder muscles are tight. Try the open book exercise to witness its relaxation magic. You will feel relaxed after the exercise and eager to do more heavy lifting workouts
Similarly, suppose you are a white-collar worker accustomed to sitting in one position for a prolonged duration. In that case, the open book exercise can help you release the tension in your back muscles.
It is easy to perform and with minimum risks. Go ahead. Give it a try. You will not regret it.