Total Shape is a reader-supported site. Purchases made through links may earn a commission. Learn more.

Thread The Needle Exercise (How to Perform It)

Isaac Robertson
Published by Isaac Robertson
Last updated: May 28, 2023

Many athletes will focus on stretching out their limbs and chest muscles for warming up and reducing some aches and pains.

But when it comes to back and shoulder pain, the types of exercises and stretches seem to be a bit more limited.

And while you can achieve a good stretch with a simple yoga child’s pose, that’s sometimes not enough.

One of the best alternatives is the thread the needle poses, and we’ll show you why it’s great and how to do it properly.

Quick Summary

  • Thread the needle exercise is a yoga workout that stretches muscles from the shoulder blades, and the mid-back.
  • Easing pain and tension reduction in the targeted muscles are the benefits associated with thread the needle exercise.
  • Alot of individuals perform thread the needle exercise as a warm-up routine.

What Is The Thread The Needle Exercise?

woman in a thread the needle pose in a yoga mat

The thread the needle pose is a yoga exercise that comes in two different forms.

In its simplest form, the goal is to stretch the muscles from the mid-back to the shoulder blades, which gives it a great impact on the thoracic spine [1].

A more advanced version combines the plank, and it can also help to strengthen back and core muscles.

However, you’ll need to have a good balance to get full advantage of a great stretch without constantly toppling over.

More on this shortly.

What Muscles Does The Thread The Needle Pose Target?

shirtless man flexing his back muscles

The thread the needle pose stretches the middle back, upper back, neck, shoulders, and upper arm muscles.

That makes it one of the most efficient upper body stretches for relieving aches and pains.

While most athletes can benefit from doing this as part of their warm-up routine, we have found that it’s also a great way for office workers to relieve some tension and pressure from constantly sitting at a desk [2].

Benefits Of The Thread The Needle Pose

woman in a thread the needle position

There are many benefits to this simple yoga pose, with the main one being that it’s one of the easiest ways to specifically target the upper back muscles.

It’s the greatest benefit of this pose as confirmed by top yoga instructor Ashton August.

It eases pain and reduces tension in the side and backs of the shoulders, thoracic spine, and cervical spine — all key areas that are impacted by working on a computer or smartphone.

Other poses often isolate the lower back or just the shoulder muscles.

The other benefit is that you can gradually practice a more advanced full pose that combines stretching with a core workout.
More on that in the next section.

And finally, here’s the practical side of things.

All you need is a yoga mat or a folded blanket, and you’re ready to go. I have clients who even do this exercise a few times a day in the office to help deal with the effects of bad posture.

How To Do The Thread The Needle Pose

Basic Setup

1. Your starting point is on all fours, with your knees directly below your hips and hands below your shoulders. Make sure that your spine is in a neutral position before you get started.

2. Lift your left hand straight up towards the ceiling and then slowly feed the arm underneath your body to the opposite side with your palm facing up.

3. Now lower your right shoulder towards the ground until your head rests on the ground.

It’s important to keep your back in a straight line to feel the full stretch. 

4. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds and then switch sides to the right arm.

Advanced Setup

woman in gym clothes doing a stretch in a plank position

1. Start in an elbow plank position.

2. Lift your left arm off the ground and straight up to the ceiling, bringing you into a side plank position.

3. Make sure you don’t let the raised shoulder collapse.

4. From there, feed the raised arm under your body and hold for 5 seconds. You’ll notice the stretch across the back as well as tension in your core muscles.

5. Go back to the starting plank and switch to the other side with the opposite arm.

Alina Avdyukova of Peace Inside notes that while the thread-the-needle pose is a gentle twist that can help improve spinal flexibility and reduce tension, it is still important to listen to your body to avoid any discomfort while performing the pose.

Have You Tried To Thread The Needle?

I highly recommend adding this stretch to the start of any back and shoulder workout days.

And if you have any aches and pains from work-related activities or inactivities, then doing this stretch two or three times a day will work wonders.

While it may improve your training, combining it with pre-workout supplements gives you an even better workout performance.

Try it out today, and then report back to us on social media


Was this article helpful?

About The Author

You May Also Like

Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *