I tried this stretching routine and it made me feel amazing

Release tension in your back and shoulders with this flowing 10-minute routine

Woman sitting cross-legged on a yoga mat in front of a sofa stretches one arm overhead and to the side. She is wearing athletic leggings and crop top and her brown hair is in a pony tail.
(Image credit: Marco VDM / Getty Images)

Some days fitting any form of movement into my day can feel like an impossible task, however, taking just a few minutes to stretch can make a huge difference to how I feel. On days when I don't have much free time or enough energy for a big workout, I look for a gentle bodyweight sequence to get me moving. This short stretching routine from Paola Pilates was just what I needed today.

Paola’s flowing movements make these stretches look graceful, and even if I can't quite match her elegant movement, the continuous movement felt great in my muscles and joints. It also put me into a calm, meditative state.

On her Instagram post Paola calls this a "gentle mobility routine for all levels" that targets your back and shoulders in particular. She encourages us to "treat ourselves" to this gentle stretch and mobility routine that will make us feel "amazing". I thought Paola was probably exaggerating, but I was pleasantly surprised by how great I felt afterward.

"These gentle movements will help you improve your mobility while releasing tension out of your back and shoulders," writes Paola. "Feel free to adjust any of these postures in order to make them feel good in your body," writes Paola. "Maybe using pillows or any other props that could help you."

How to do this stretching routine

The eight movements in this sequence will get you moving, bending and twisting in all directions, as much as feels good for you. The whole routine took me about 10 minutes to complete.

Paula begins with seated side bends. As I flowed into the side bends it felt good to move my spine laterally—something many of us overlook. I settled into the gentle pace of the sequence, enjoying the meditative feeling.

The seated twist felt great in my mid back, and of course, you can take the twist as easy or as deep as you like. During cat-cow I moved with my breath, and the flexion and extension loosened stiff areas in my spine. I wasn’t familiar with the shoulder dip with twist but found it a great way to release tension in my shoulders and upper back.

In the downward dog walk, I got a satisfying stretch down the back of my legs and the move released tension in my back.

The cactus arms with twist opened my chest and upper back, and engaged my shoulders. The thoracic twist stretched my mid back and chest, and gave me a satisfying hamstring stretch. This movement seemed to work through some stiff areas in my mid-spine.

And finally the open book variation—where the top arm draws back as if to fire a bow and arrow and then returns via a clock movement sweeping overhead—loosened and opened up my shoulders, and felt great in my mid to upper back.

After I’d completed the routine I really did feel amazing. My back felt supple and relaxed, my shoulders felt great, and I had no stiffness. I’ve bookmarked this sequence for days when my back and shoulders need some extra attention.

Contributing writer

Camilla Artault is a fitness writer with a passion for running and yoga. She interviews experts and writes about a wide range of topics for Fit&Well encompassing health, fitness and nutrition.