Welcome to our Move of the Week series. Every Monday, we’ll be sharing one of our favourite exercises with you – how to do it, what muscles it works and why it should be a regular part of your workout regime. This week: kneeling sidebends.     

Our yoga practice often focuses on stretching the front and back of the body with moves like upward and downward dogs. But it’s important not to neglect stretching the side of the body. That’s particularly true if you spend a lot of time sitting and slouching at your desk, as the intercostal muscles (the muscles between the ribs), lats and obliques can get tight and cause discomfort and pain.

Side-body stretches are great to strengthen and lengthen our muscles and ease any tension we may be feeling. Our favourite? The kneeling sidebend.  

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What is a kneeling sidebend?

A kneeling sidebend is a kneeling exercise that involves lifting one arm up and over the head and alternating sides.

This exercise is great because:

It can be done at any time: it’s a perfect stretch to add to your morning routine, your yoga or pilates practice or after work.

It can help with your posture: stretching out your side muscles can improve your posture and release any tension in the neck and shoulders.

It targets the core: if you’re looking to improve your core stability, this is a great exercise to do. 

What muscles do kneeling sidebends work?

A kneeling sidebend targets the side of the body, including:

  • Intercostal muscles
  • Obliques (side muscles)
  • Lats
  • Glute medius 

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How to do a kneeling sidebend

  1. Start in a tall kneeling position on your mat with your knees slightly apart and roll your shoulders down and back.
  2. Raise your right arm up overhead and bend your upper body to the left in a reaching motion, looking up at your right hand if it’s comfortable for your neck. Let your left arm hang down by your side.
  3. Keep your hips facing forwards so you don’t twist through the spine.
  4. Hold for a few seconds and repeat on the other side. 

Images: Stylist

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