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How to Do a Backbend

by sorin ciovica on June 21, 2024

The backbend is a fun and graceful move that stretches your back, opens up your chest, and looks great—when you can pull it off! The trick is to work your way up, starting with simple stretches and then practicing your bridge. Before long, you'll be backbending on the wall, with a spotter, and then, finally, all on your own!  Use a soft mat or AirTrack Mat to prevent injury. 


1: Stretching and Warming Up

backbend Stretching and Warming Up


Warm Up and Lay Out Your Mat

Start by loosening up your muscles with some light cardio exercises like jogging, jumping rope, or doing jumping jacks. This helps get your blood flowing and your muscles warm. Use a yoga or gymnastics AirTrack Mat or a mattress, or clear an area on a soft carpet or rug. Make sure the area is free of any tripping hazards, such as small objects.


Stretch Your Ankles

Flex your foot as far back as you can, so the toes are pointing up in the air. Then point your foot down, so the toes are parallel to the floor or angled slightly towards it. Repeat 10-20 times, then switch feet. Roll out your ankles by sitting and holding an ankle in one hand. Roll your foot in circles several times, then switch feet.


Do Wrist Stretches


Wrist Extensor Stretch

Extend your arm with your palm facing upwards and elbow straight. Pull your hand down with your other hand. Hold for ten seconds, then repeat with your other wrist.


Wrist Flexor Stretch

Extend one wrist in front of you with your palm facing away and your fingertips up. Pull your fingers back with your other hand until you feel a nice stretch. Hold for ten seconds and repeat with the other hand.


Perform Cat-Cow Pose

This simple yoga pose will open up your chest and back. Start on your hands and knees with your wrists directly below your shoulders. Inhale and drop your belly towards the mat, arching your spine. Exhale and draw your belly into your spine, rounding your back. Repeat 10-15 times.


Try Deeper Yoga Poses

  • Cobra Pose: Lie with your belly on the floor, place your hands under your armpits, and push up, arching your spine and stretching your chest.
  • Camel Pose: Kneel, place your hands on your lower back, and arch your spine back.
  • Bow Pose: For more flexibility, lie on your stomach, grab your ankles, and lift your chest and legs off the floor, creating a bow shape.


How to Do a Backbend


2: Doing a Bridge


Lie on Your Back and Bend Your Legs

Place your feet close together on the floor and bend your legs so that your knees are sticking straight up.


Position Your Hands

Place your hands by your head with your fingertips pointing towards your shoulders and your palms flat against the floor. Your elbows should be pointing up in the air.


Lift Your Body

Push through your shoulders and lift your body, straightening your arms as much as you can. Focus on keeping your core, legs, and butt muscles tight. If you can't lift far off the ground yet, that's okay. Practice your bridges a couple of times a day to build strength.


Lift Only Your Hips

If you can't push all the way up, start by lifting only your hips off the ground. Place your arms down at your sides, squeeze your butt and core, and lift your hips off the ground.


Hold and Lower

Hold the pose for a few seconds, then slowly lower yourself back down. Repeat 2-3 more times, giving yourself a short rest in between.


3: Practicing a Backbend Against a Wall


Practicing a Backbend Against a Wall

Prepare Your Space

Take one to two steps away from a blank wall and place your feet about shoulder-width apart.


Position Your Hands and Arms

Place your palms against your buttocks and push your hips forward. Lift and elongate your spine and rib cage, then stretch your arms straight up above your head and tilt your head back to look at the wall.


Bend Back

Bend your back and place your palms against the wall. Keep your elbows straight, head tipped back, and neck long. Press your hands against the wall and walk them down as far as you can, keeping your elbows straight and breathing evenly.


Return to Standing

Walk your arms back up the wall and straighten from your hips, inhaling as you come back to standing. Take your time and lift your head slowly.


Stretch Out

Fall forward gently and touch your toes to stretch out your back. Exhale and bend smoothly from your hips. Take a couple of deep breaths.


Increase Difficulty

Step farther from the wall each time to challenge yourself to bend back a little further without the wall to support you.


4: Doing a Full Backbend 

Doing a Full Backbend

Use a Spotter

Do a backbend with a spotter supporting your back. Have them place one hand on your lower back and one on your stomach. Slowly lower into a backbend with their support.


Lift Back Up

Have your spotter move both hands to your lower back and slowly raise you back to standing.


Try It Alone

Once you're comfortable with a spotter, try a full backbend on your own. Lift your pelvis and ribs, keep your arms bent and strong behind your head, and lower down, looking through your arms to spot the floor.


Breathe and Listen to Your Body

Take your time, breathe evenly, and listen to your body. If you can't go down all the way today, take a break and try again later.


5: Standing from Your Backbend 

Standing from Your Backbend

Rock Back and Forth

Push from your hands and roll forward onto your toes, then back onto your heels while keeping your head and neck relaxed. Peel your hands slightly off the floor as you rock to introduce the lifting motion.


Tuck Your Chin

Tuck your chin against your chest and focus your weight and power in your lower body and core.


Thrust Up

Thrust up with your chest as you rock forward into your feet. Let your hands lift from the ground and slowly push yourself up into a standing position, using your core and quads to stabilize your body.



How Do You Become Flexible?

Regular stretching and practice are key to improving flexibility. Incorporate a variety of stretches into your daily routine to target different muscle groups. Focus on dynamic stretches to warm up your muscles before exercise and static stretches to increase flexibility afterward. Additionally, consider integrating yoga or pilates into your regimen, as both emphasize flexibility and strength.


Are Backbends Dangerous?

When done correctly with proper warm-ups and technique, backbends are safe. However, they can be dangerous if you push yourself too hard or skip the necessary preparations. Always ensure your body is adequately warmed up and your muscles are stretched before attempting a backbend. Listen to your body and avoid forcing any movements that cause pain.


How Do I Get Over a Mental Block Stopping Me from Doing a Backbend?

Overcoming a mental block involves gradual exposure and building confidence. Start with smaller backbends and use supportive props or a wall to feel secure. Practice consistently, celebrate small successes, and use positive visualization techniques. Working with a coach or a supportive partner can also provide encouragement and safety.


Do You Have to Have a Spotter?

A spotter is helpful when learning backbends, especially for beginners. They provide support and ensure you maintain proper form, reducing the risk of injury. However, you can also practice against a wall or use supportive props like yoga blocks until you gain more confidence and strength to perform backbends independently.


How Do I Get My Shoulders and Arms Strong Enough to Do a Backbend?

Incorporate strength training exercises that target your shoulders and arms, such as push-ups, planks, and tricep dips. Shoulder presses and resistance band exercises can also help build the necessary strength. Consistency in these exercises will gradually improve your ability to support your body weight in a backbend.


What Should I Practice on If I Don't Have a Mat or Mattress?

If you don't have a AirTrack Mat or mattress, use a soft carpet or rug. Ensure the area is free of obstacles and tripping hazards to create a safe practice space. You can also use folded blankets or towels to cushion your practice area.


How Do I Get Over the Fear of Doing a Backbend Against a Wall?

Start with small, incremental steps and practice gradually. Use pillows or cushions to create a safe and comfortable practice space. Begin by practicing with your hands on the wall at a higher position and gradually work your way down as you become more comfortable and confident.


Is a Backbend Easy?

Backbends can be challenging, especially for beginners. However, they become easier with regular practice, increased strength, and improved flexibility. Consistent effort and patience are key to mastering backbends.


Are Backbends Good for Your Back?

Yes, backbends can improve flexibility, strengthen back muscles, and promote better posture when done correctly. They help open up the chest and shoulders, counteracting the effects of prolonged sitting and poor posture.


Are Backbends Safe for Kids?

With proper supervision, warm-ups, and technique, backbends are safe for kids. Encourage them to practice gradually and listen to their bodies. Ensure they have adequate adult supervision to guide them through the movements safely.


How Long Can You Stay in a Backbend?

Hold a backbend for a few seconds to a minute, depending on your comfort and strength. Gradually increase the duration as you become more comfortable and your strength improves. Listen to your body and avoid overextending yourself.


How Do You Train Yourself to Do a Backbend?

Start with stretching and warming up, practice bridges, use a wall or spotter for support, and gradually work up to a full backbend. Focus on building strength and flexibility in your back, shoulders, and arms. Consistency and patience are key.


Can Everyone Do a Backbend?

Most people can learn to do a backbend with practice and proper technique. Flexibility and strength vary from person to person, so progress at your own pace. If you have any pre-existing medical conditions, consult with a healthcare professional before attempting backbends.