Emma Obayuvana doing puppy pose

Move of the week: puppy dog pose eases a stiff upper back and tight chest

Posted by for Workouts

Welcome to our weekly Move of the Week series. Every Monday, we’ll be sharing with you one of our favourite exercises – how to do them, what muscles they work and why they should be a regular part of your workout regime. This week: puppy dog. 

Down dog might be yoga’s most famous canine pose, but it might not be the best move for your aches and pains. Instead, opt for puppy pose – a relaxing but intense release for the upper body. 

It allows you to get deeper into those muscles that are commonly tight from desk jobs and strength training, like the back of the shoulders, the upper back and the chest. The all-fours positioning also affords you better support of the body so you can really get relax into the movement. 

What is puppy pose?

The puppy pose is a backbend that gets its name thanks to the fact it looks similar to stretches done by dogs when they wave their tail in the air and extend their front legs out. 

The exercise is great because:

It opens the chest muscles: arching the back opens the muscles at the front of the body, which are commonly tight from extended periods with forward-hunching posture. 

It reaches into the back: you’ll probably feel this stretch all through the ribcage as you create space through lengthening.

It’s relaxing: it may be intense, but it’s also a gentle inversion (when your heart is higher than your head), which is known to have calming effects. 

What muscles does puppy pose work?

A puppy pose mainly works the upper body, including:

  • Biceps
  • Tricpes
  • Shoulders
  • Back
  • Chest
  • Obliques 
  • Abdominals

How to do a puppy pose

  1. Kneel on the floor with your bum touching your heels and toes curled under. 
  2. Slowly walk your hands forwards until your head is on the floor, allowing your glutes to lift off the heels. 
  3. Your hips should be directly over your knees and your arms outstretched in front of you, with your fingers pressed into the floor. 
  4. Breathe deeply into your ribs and press down to feel more of the stretch. 
  5. Walk your hands back to the starting position. 

Images: Stylist

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Chloe Gray

Chloe Gray is the senior writer for stylist.co.uk's fitness brand Strong Women. When she's not writing or lifting weights, she's most likely found practicing handstands, sipping a gin and tonic or eating peanut butter straight out of the jar (not all at the same time).

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