My 5 Daily Spondylolisthesis Stretches/Movements – Part 4

Those of you who have been following my series have learned several things along the way in regards to the benefits of a daily stretching/movement program and how they can potentially be beneficial for both you and your overall movement.

If you happened to miss parts 1-3 you can find them here:

Part 1 – The Introduction

Part 2 – Stretch/Movement #1

Part 3 – Stretch/Movement #2

I highly encourage you to check out these posts in order before you begin with this post.

As a friendly reminder to all who follow our site and information, please keep in mind the ideal situation is for you to get a movement screen from a certified individual and determine what your PERSONAL weaknesses are and work with a rehab specialist to help you develop a few warm up movements designed specifically for you.

If you have yet to do this we highly recommend you read our disclaimer and ALWAYS speak to your doctor BEFORE starting any new exercise or stretching program.

Also, keep in mind this warm-up is not for all spondylolisthesis or spondylolysis patients.

As you probably know by now spondy’s are unique to the individual and each situation is different.  If you have severe pain or discomfort present you will want to speak with your medical professionals due to the complexities and severity that your specific situation may present.

Now it’s on to the third stretch that I do on a daily basis…..


Stretch/Movement #3 = The “U” stretch


Why I Do It

Since I began this blog and website I have spent much more time behind the desk of a computer…… And to be honest, I hate sitting for extended periods of time.

I hate how it feels, I hate the position my body is in and quite frankly, I think my spondy hates sitting as well.

So I really wanted to add something in my daily stretching that helped to combat the seated typing position.

I really notice that the more time I spend behind a desk typing, the more I seem to “hunch” over the screen. This is something I talked about in the past when I provided you with my favorite after typing exercise in one of my blog posts.

My upper back and my shoulders round, my lower back rounds and my chest collapses.

spondylolisthesis enemy

My posture ends up looking something like this.

I try to do a few things to combat this issue while typing such as sitting up and setting a timer to go off every few minutes to make sure I get up and move around, but the truth is I can still tell a difference.

Since starting my blog I have noticed a significant change in certain areas of my body that I directly relate to sitting.

One such area is my thoracic spine (think upper back) and the muscles surrounding it.

Over time, this sitting posture has the potential to encourage the muscles of the chest to become restricted and tight while simultaneously forcing the muscles of the upper back to lengthen and weaken (notice in the picture above how the head really sinks forward)

So I wanted to pick a stretch that forced an emphasis on lengthening the chest muscles (stretching) and strengthening the upper back muscles (activating).

How To Do It

From the pictures the “U” stretch seems very simple to perform. However, there are a few pointers you want to make sure you follow.

Start with your feel about shoulders width apart and your hands held up like the shape of the letter “U’.

Throughout the movement you also want to make sure to keep your head and neck vertical. Do not let it become lazy and fall forward (like the photo of the guy typing above).

Your thumbs should be facing directly behind you and should remain directly above your elbows the entire stretch.

spondylolisthesis stretch

The “U” Stretch – Correct Starting Position

Make sure not to let the elbows leave the thumbs or the thumbs leave the elbows (when in vertical alignment).  They should always remain in line with each other, one on top of the other.

The picture below shows the common mistake of letting the thumbs and elbows separating from each other. This makes the stretch completely different and can also cause some additional stress on the low back.

Spondylolisthesis Stretch

The “U” Stretch – Incorrect Position

From the correct starting position you want to think of opening your chest and squeezing your shoulder blades together in the back while you move your arms back (hands and elbows together).

You want to be sure NOT to shrug when you do this; you are simply trying to touch your shoulder blades together.

Spondylolisthesis Stretch

The “U” Stretch – Correct Finish Position

Another key point to think about occurs at your finish or end position.

Back sure you DO NOT arch your low back.

Sometimes the body will try to help you achieve this position by arching your low back (especially in spondy patients), so always be cognizant of your low back position at the finish.

Spondylolisthesis Stretch

The “U” Stretch – Incorrect Finish Position

When I do this stretch I perform 5 reps and I hold each rep for 5 seconds. While I hold the position I really focus on squeezing the shoulder blades together while I stretch the chest muscles.

I love this stretch and I feel it really helps to attack the areas that are greatly affected by the seated or typing positions that I have been spending additional time in.

I would also love to hear what you think about this stretch below. Please comment any thoughts, questions, or experiences and I will be sure to get back to you.

You can also skip ahead to Part 5 of my series HERE.

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Leave A Reply (6 comments so far)

  1. Judy
    4 years ago

    This stretch releases tension. I have 2 areas of spondy, the typical L5 and atypical C6. This stretch feels good. I have been trying all of your suggestions in my relief quest! Thank you!

    • Spondy
      4 years ago

      Hi Judy.

      I am glad this particular stretch provides you with some tension relief. Thanks for commenting and I hope you have found the site helpful in your battle!

  2. Annie Anderson
    3 years ago

    Prob too late fir me now. Diagnosed 29th spondylolithesis aged 12, now 60. Went on to develop scoliosis and later in life kyphosisis – this I blame to being stuck behind a word processor typing letters, was medical Secretary.
    Kyphosis upsets me, will try some if your stretches, muscles very tight.
    Live in the UK , have just found a great physio, very caring, gentle and more willing to try different things on me.
    Will let you know how I get on with the exercises.

    • SpondyInfo
      3 years ago

      Hi Annie. Thanks for sharing your story. I encourage you not to worry about whether it is too late or not and instead focus your energy and attention on improving how you move and feel. It sounds like you have a great physio that you enjoy and trust. Continue to work with them on your weaknesses and strive for improvement. Best of luck!

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