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How To Do The Thread The Needle Exercise

Last updated: June 29, 2021

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

All it takes is a few minutes, and the relief can be well worth it.

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


References:

  1. https://www.spine-health.com/conditions/spine-anatomy/thoracic-spine-anatomy-and-upper-back-pain
  2. https://www.themuse.com/advice/5-physical-problems-you-have-from-sitting-still-all-day-solved

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