Awaken Your Spine
When we think of getting fit we often think of hitting a gym to push weights or burning calories through a heart pumping HIIT session, but how often have we related fitness to the health of our spine? Our spines support and carry us through our entire lives yet we rarely think of how our spine is functioning and coping with all the daily stresses we put it through. This only usually happens when we’re injured and the physio gives us a series of rehab exercises to do and let’s face it, who really keeps those up!
A healthy spine should be able to bend forwards, backwards, sideways as well as twist. Not only will this lessen your chance of injury by allowing your spine to manage load and stress more efficiently but you’ll move better, your posture will improve and you’ll experience a greater sense of well-being.
I’ve put together a short video focusing on flexing and extending the spine with the aim to isolate each vertebra as you work through each exercise. Improving your spinal segmentation will have a massive positive flow on effect in your pole practice too. You’ll perform body rolls and other cool movements with greater ease and less strain on the ribs for example. And if you’re not a poler, you’re still going to reap the benefits of giving your spine a little TLC.
Some key points to get you started:
- Take your time with each of the exercises above. Move super slowly so your brain has a better chance of connecting with the parts of your body that you’re trying to reach.
- You may not see a huge range of movement when you first start, but don’t give up! This is normal and it’ll take practice to build up muscle memory and new neural pathways.
- Don’t hold your breath. Breathing is key to relaxing the body and puts you in a better state from which movement can happen.
- Repeat each exercise at least 3 times each.
- UPPER BODY MOBILITY: Start in a four point kneel position. Breathe in and on breath out drop your breast bone towards the floor, the shoulder blades should slide in towards the spine during this movement. Breathe in and hollow out the front of your upper body by pressing up into the shoulder blades. Do this a few times and move slowly so you connect mind and body with the movement. Take extra care to not move your body from the waist down.
- LOWER BODY MOBILITY: Essentially the same exercise as above but now we’re focusing on isolating the spine from the waist down. Breathe in and on breath out tuck your hips under. Breathe in and arch your lower spine. Pay attention to whether you’re involving the upper body to move this part of your spine.
- LOWER BODY MOBILITY: Create a tripod position by placing your forearms on the floor with your fingers interlaced. Your elbows should be shoulder width apart and no wider. Place the crown of your head on the floor and cradle the back of your head in your hands. Breathe in and on breath out, round out your lower spine. Breathe in and arch your lower spine. You won’t get a lot of movement in this position but it’s a good place to work from if you’re struggling to isolate the lower part of your body in the exercise above.
- UPPER BODY MOBILITY: Sit up in child’s pose with hands placed flat on the floor in front of you. Breathe in and on breath out, lift your breast bone up towards the sky by pulling slightly forward through your hands. At this point the shoulders blades should slide in towards your spine. On breath out, press your hands into the floor and hollow out through the front of your upper body. During this movement, the shoulder blades should slide outwards.
- FULL SPINE MOBILITY – BEGINNERS: Start in four point kneel position. Breathe in and lift your eye line up towards the sky. Breathe out and tuck your chin in towards your chest, press your hands into the floor and focus on isolating each vertebra as you hollow out the back line of your body, pushing the shoulder blades apart. Breathe in and reverse the movement by rolling the pelvis backwards creating an arch through the lower back. Work slowly through each vertebra as your return to the start position.
- FULL SPINE MOBILITY – ADVANCED: Start in Downward Dog. Breathe in and on breath out, tuck/scoop the hips under. Work through each segment of your spine as you hollow out the front line of your body. As you push your weight forwards towards your hands, the idea is to roll the spine out in a wave like motion that ends in a front support shape. Breathe in and push back to Downward Dog.
And lastly, the Caterpillar! This is a fun but slightly more challenging isolation exercise which I’ll go through in an upcoming blog so stay tuned!
With all my love,
here's to happy, healthy spines!