Finding New Range of Motion: What You Didn’t Know Your Body Needed

 Photo by  Natalie Collins  on  Unsplash

So many of us spend much of our day in a prolonged flexed spine position, whether its during our daily commute, at a desk, or at home in front of the TV. Although we feel as though we are expending less energy allowing our bodies to go into the position of comfort, the impact of a prolonged flexed spine is widespread.

In fact, because the hip, pelvis, abdomen and spine are all apart of the same kinetic chain, dysfunctions from prolonged postures, muscle imbalances or trauma along this chain can have a global effect to the whole body. The ability to maintain flexibility in the spine by moving it in as many ranges as possible is significant to moving better and with less pain.

Current literature encourages the use of manipulations to the spine to address movement dysfunctions and with this in mind, introducing mobility and lengthening exercises to produce controlled movements would be essential to a well rounded exercise regimen. Assuming a sedentary lifestyle is not the case, we want to emphasize the importance of moving our body into its available range, specifically into extension. If you have been diagnosed with spinal stenosis or if you have pain with back bending you will want to proceed with caution and consult your physical therapist.

 

Equipment utilized: foam roller, towel, & blanket.


 

1. Side Bend Stretch

Increases lung expansion, rib cage stretch

  1. Reach arms overhead with with hand grasping opposite wrist.
  2. Inhale and side bend to one side as you exhale.
  3. Inhale in the side bend position, focusing on filling lung on side that is being stretched.
  4. Exhale to come back to starting position and repeat to the other side.
 

2. Supine Scarecrow

Increases strength to muscles between shoulder blades, mobilizes thoracic spine

  1. Align body in on belly with arms in football goal post position.
  2. Bring awareness to points of body that have contact with mat such as forehead, hands, forearms, shoulders.
  3. Lengthen neck, release any tension that may be held in shoulders and focus on drawing shoulders down.
  4. Inhale to prepare and exhale as you lift only the hands off the mat.
  5. Inhale to lift elbows off the mat while keeping hands a little higher than elbows, exhale to lift chest maintaining hands and elbow in elevated position, and lower back to starting position.
 

3. Swan with Foam Roller

Mobilizes from cervical to thoracic spine

  1. Initiate the movement into extension first from the head, then the neck, sternum, leaving the last ribs in contact with mat as you move arms over foam roller to allow upper trunk to roll into extension.
  2. Try to focus on the movement of each individual vertebrae as you roll into and out of extension with the aid of the foam roller.
 

4. Bridge

Increases awareness of spine segmental movement, mobilizes pelvis and spine, opens chest

  1. Inhale to prepare, exhale to initiate the bridge first with your pelvis, dropping your pubic bone and lifting your tail bone as you peel pelvis off the mat.
  2. Continue to intentionally move through each vertebrae segment by segment into extension until only your shoulder blades are left on the mat.
  3. Imagine your knees moving away from you towards the wall to gain more extension.
  4. Take as many breaths as required, do not rush the movement of the spine segments..
  5. Once at the top inhale and clasp your hands behind your back to find more extension and feeling stretch across chest.

Give these stretches a shot, and let us know how you feel! Happy stretching!