A couple of days ago we discussed the various directions of motion the spine can accomplish . . . extension, flexion forward, flexion laterally and rotation. Of each of these motions is there one that tends to be a bit more of a challenge for you? Typically, it is extension.
And when we think about it, it makes sense. We are beings that concentrate most of our activities directly in front of ourselves.
Our spine is made up of 24 vertebrae which theoretically work individually. However, in practice the 12 which make up the thoracic spine often tend to work as a unit, unfortunately. If you look at the lay of the land in that neck of the woods, you will find that the thoracic region of the spine includes the vertebral connection with the ribs, the slide and glide of the shoulder blades as well as the ongoing constant job of providing support of our mid to upper torso (truly a multi-tasking group of over achievers).
When it comes to the task of leaning backwards for whatever reason, what does your spine look like? Does your cervical spine curve? Does your lumbar curve? Maybe not so much for your thoracic! Does it look a little flat? If that just described your experience, don’t force the dynamic. Now that you understand you aren’t a perfect arch, work toward bringing balance to your curve.
Become more proactive when you bend backwards. Tilt your hips forward at the beginning of the motion. Engage your abdominals to encourage stability throughout your lower torso as you slowly allow each vertebra to articulate backwards. And truly engage in the process of articulation. Don’t allow your lumbar and cervical vertebrae to take most of the burden of creating the arch while the thoracic tags along in between. Does this hurt? Is it difficult. Start slow.
Use the Coregeous ball to help roll out the tension between the vertebra and slowly the 12 vertebrae will begin to articulate on their own. When you are taking a break throughout the day, be sure to activate your spine in all directions.
Encouraging all four directions of motion will provide much needed relief to the entire spine and you may soon begin to see increases in the range of motion for this section of your spine. Remember, its all connected.
Peggy Stevens is the founder, owner and operator of RiversZen Fitness Studios in Oregon and Washington. She is also the creator of StretchPro. You can join Peggy live at RiversZen.com or follow her online at MyRiversZen.com
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