Warm up your muscles before stretching by doing a light cardiovascular exercise for three to five minutes. Suitable warm-up exercises include walking or slowly jumping in place, jumping rope or jumping jacks. Warming your muscles sufficiently helps protect them from injuries, such as tears, which can occur even while stretching if the muscles are cold.
Sit with your legs straight out in front of you and with a folded blanket under your tail bone. The folded blanket helps you maintain a straight spinal position with less tension in your lower and upper back. Maintain the seated position with your shoulders pressed back and your spine elongated.
Bend at the waist and lower back, keeping your spine straight. Use a strap wrapped around the soles of your feet to pull yourself gently and deeply into the stretch. Keeping your back straight as you stretch is more beneficial than hunching and rolling your back to reach forward.
Hold the forward bend with a straight, elongated spine and your shoulders pulled away from your ears. Hold the stretch, without bouncing, for 30 to 60 seconds. Bend your knees slightly to release any tension.
Come out of the stretch by releasing the strap. Inhale deeply while slowly raising your arms high above your head. Raise your body up into the stretch, engaging your back muscles and maintaining a flat back to form a 90 degree angle with your arms, torso and legs. Elongating your spine helps achieve the maximum benefits of the stretch, as well as strengthening your back muscles.
Exhale and slowly drop your arms back down to your sides.