Keeping your spine mobile

Last month I talked about spinal joints. This month I want to show and describe a few great ways to try and keep your spine mobile.

I recently read a caption. “Have you ever heard of a spine transplant? Neither have we. Take care of the one you have.” I wholeheartedly agree! Osteopathy can help solve and manage spinal issues. The ideal would be to try and practice staying mobile regularly, to help yourself as much as possible too.

These exercises shouldn’t cause pain, if you experience a problem, stop the exercise and consult your Osteopath or other medical practitioner. If you have an existing complaint, it would be wise to consult your practitioner to check these exercises are appropriate for you.

Spine Curl Exercise

This is a great way to work through stiffness in the lower back and coming up to shoulder blade level.

Start laid down on your back with your knees bent. To begin the move tuck your pelvis under so that your lower back flattens to the floor. Then think about raising your spine off the floor one vertebra/spinal segment at a time. Come up to shoulder blade level to avoid over-straining your neck in this position.

From the initial tucking of the pelvis, to raising up into your upper back, Really try to focus on moving one vertebra at a time to get maximum benefit from this. There may be sections of your spine that are very stiff, and this will be more difficult. Keep practicing to gain more mobility. Or/and seek some treatment to help if you feel its necessary.

Reverse this process to come back to the start position. Replacing your vertebra to the floor one at a time.

Repeat gently 5-6 times.

Upper Back Rotation With shoulder “Opening”

Lay on your side. For an ideal start position, make sure your hips and shoulders are stacked on top of one another. So you are laid in a balanced position. To try and allow the movement to focus through your upper back and shoulder, you will need to try and fix your hips in this position whilst performing this exercise.

Start with your arms out straight ahead of you on top of one another. They should be at shoulder height and around 90 degrees to your body. 

Raise the top arm and bring it as far back as you can. This will encourage a rotation in your upper back and a stretch to the front of your shoulder. Allow your neck to rotate with this movement, but keep the hips still. Return to normal. Repeat this exercise, with care and control 3-5 times on each side.

(This exercise is demonstrated below by a Pilates professional. Stewart Heath. Stewart owns Bodysense in Hatfield Peverel. They provide a wide range of Pilates tuition.)

Upper Back Extension

The natural shape of the upper back means that it is often held in a slightly rounded position. It is an area that we may struggle with posturally if we get into slouching habits. It naturally doesn’t move so well, as it is surrounded by rib cage too.

This exercise is a very gentle way to counteract this rounded position. You will need to really think about your spinal movement as you perform this, to get the sense of the movement in the right area.

Start in a knelt position, body resting forwards, with arms ahead of you, and the forearms resting flat on the floor.

Raise your body up. Allowing your forearms to leave the floor. Try and keep your neck as straight and in line with the rest of your spine as you can. You want to try and feel the slight arching movement between your shoulder blades/mid upper back. Return to the start position and repeat 5 times.

These exercises demonstrate ways to mobilise your spine. They can also be performed whilst considering your core muscles, and thinking about effective breathing. If you wish to pursue this, and it would be advised. Seeking out a good Pilates instructor is the way to learn all the exercises and techniques properly.

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