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Abdominal stretch demonstrated

This is an excerpt from Dance Anatomy-2nd Edition by Jacqui Greene Haas.


  1. Lie prone with your palms on the ground and your elbows bent and close to your sides. Glide your shoulder blades down toward your hips.
  2. As you inhale, lengthen through your spine and press your hands into the ground to lift your chest off the ground. Keep the abdominals engaged toward the spine.
  3. Move along the longest possible arc through your thoracic spine, avoiding overuse in the lower spine.
  4. Continue, lifting your hips off the floor as long as you are supporting your entire spine and not just moving in the lower segments of the spine. Feel a nice stretch along the rectus abdominis.
  5. Upon exhalation, reverse and bring yourself back down to start position with control. Perform 4 to 6 times.

Muscles Involved

  • Shoulders: Lower trapezius, triceps brachii, infraspinatus
  • Trunk: Transversus abdominis, internal oblique, external oblique, rectus abdominis, iliacus, psoas major, spinal extensors

Dance Focus

As you have seen, the abdominals need to be strengthened for spine stability; they also need to be stretched. Beautiful extension of the spine is required, for example, in arabesque, cambré derrière, and tour jeté. To help you acquire that strong yet beautiful arch along your spine, this exercise emphasizes spinal extension through the entire spine with abdominal lengthening. You are using your arms to assist in the stretch and using your abdominals to support your spine. This exercise can also help you maintain posture as you get older.

Learn more about Dance Anatomy, Second Edition.