Push-ups are awesome for building upper body strength. The downward dog is equally great for stretching your calves, shoulders and a few other areas. Combine them and you've got a great warm-up or "rest day" movement that helps increase range of motion in your upper back, while making you stronger. This is not to be confused with a similar variation called the downward dog push-up. Mike Robertson, a performance coach based out of Indianapolis, told me that his push-up to downward dog movement particularly benefits folks who sit at desks a lot. The "reach" in the push-up loosens up your muscles around the shoulder blades, while the downward dog stretches your entire backside.
- Reach during the push-up: During your push-up, you want to feel like you're "reaching" at the top of your push-up. Think about pushing the floor away from you. (If you can't do a full push-up, you can start from the top of the push-up and go directly into the downward dog.)
- Reach through the arms in downward dog: Emphasise reaching with your arms again, pushing the floor away from you, as you shift into the downward dog and bring your hips straight up. You should feel a stretch in your shoulders and upper back.
- Knees straight, heels down:Keep your knees straight, and drive your heels into the floor. Think about flexing your quads to help straighten your knees. If you have trouble with getting a picture perfect downward dog, just keep gently working at it.
For more, Robertson wrote a post about it here. Try this out for eight to 10 reps to get a good warm-up.
Push-up to Downward Dog [Mike Robertson]