Spinal Awareness Week - How to keep your spine flexible | Care For Health | Godalming Chiropractor | Chiropractic & Physiotherapy

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Spinal Awareness Week – How to keep your spine flexible

We evolved the way that we did to INCREASE our ability move and make us MORE agile. Yet it’s surprising how little we actually move during a typical day. This is likely due to modern jobs and workplaces where we are stuck at desks and computers and limited in our ability to freely move. This immobility switches off our deep core stabilising muscles placing additional load on the joints and superficial muscles of the low back. Over time this can lead to muscle fatigue and low back pain, which is why “if you don’t use it, you lose it”. This makes it even more IMPORTANT to set aside time to exercise and stay mobile and increase flexibility.

The following manual will take you through our 5 most recommended exercises to increase your spinal mobility, flexibility and decrease your risk of spinal issues.

Advice

  • Repeat each exercise 10-15 times (and each side where applicable).
  • The exercise should be performed nice and slow.
  • You should feel a stretch but not pain. If you do feel a pain or pinching then only move/stretch as far as is comfortable in a pain free range.
  • Remember to breath during the exercise. Perform each stage of movement whilst exhaling.

Cat Camel mobilisation

This type of exercise is a fantastic form of mobilisation for the whole spine. You can isolate either the lower back or upper back and neck, use it as a pre-activity warm up or just for general spinal mobility so is a highly versatile mobilisation. This will work to mobilise your spinal joints, activate your spinal muscles and pump fluid into the discs.

Steps how to perform

  • Begin on all fours with hands under shoulders and knees under hips.
  • Slowly lower your head whilst arching your back up and tucking your buttocks underneath, rocking the pelvis backwards.
  • Pause here to feel a stretch.
  • Then, slowly raise your head up as far as comfortable, drop your back into a downwards arch aiming to poke the buttocks out.
  • Again pause to feel it stretch.

Pelvic Tilts

The pelvic tilt is a great exercise for mobilising the sacroiliac (pelvic) joints and the facet joints of the lower back whilst also activating the deep core muscles. It is a great exercise to keep things mobile throughout the day but can also be really effective for anyone suffering with acute low back pain.

Steps how to perform

  • Begin by laying flat on your back with your knees bent (roughly 45 degrees) and heels flat on the floor.
  • Gently tilt the front of your pelvis towards you so that your back flattens against the floor.
  • From this position tilt your pelvis the opposite way to create an arch, keeping your buttocks firmly on the ground.
  • It is a simple rocking movement. This is one pelvic tilt.

Arm openings

This exercise is great for rotating the upper, middle and lower spine opening your spinal facet joints, mobilising the ribs and activating your core muscle rotators. It’s a great way to increase flexibility and can be used to increase flexibility reversing the car or to add some extra distance to those all important golf drives.

Steps how to perform

  • Begin by laying on your right hand side with your head supported by a pillow.
  • Bend your knees towards you like you’re lying in a foetal position (roughly a 45 degree angle) and stretch your arms out in front of you.
  • Keep your knees on top of each other and flat on the floor.
  • Inhale deeply and then as you exhale gently raise the top arm towards the ceiling and take it backwards as far as comfortable.
  • Follow the arm movement with your head.
  • When you have fully opened your arm inhale in situ and then exhale as you return your arm back to the start.
  • Repeat 10 times
  • Turn your body over to the opposite side and repeat 10 times
  • Remember again to exhale during each stage of the exercise.

This exercise is a great way to increase your global and segmental spinal mobility. This is a fantastic exercise to do when you have restrictions in your spinal flexibility as it will start to “unlock” the motionless segments and get you back moving again.

Spinal roll downs

Steps how to perform

  • Imagine it as a way of folding yourself in two.
  • Begin by standing with both knees slightly bent.
  • Inhale in situ and then exhale as you roll your nose towards the breast bone.
  • Let your shoulders round and your mid back curl forwards so that your hands go down towards the floor (allowing the pelvis to tilt forwards).
  • Roll down as far as you can towards the floor.
  • Once you are at the bottom inhale in situ, exhale as you roll back up reversing the move..
  • Roll the pelvis backwards to neutral and uncurl the spine bringing your low back straighter.
  • Straighten your mid back and then bring your shoulders back.
  • Finally, lift your head up to return to looking forwards.
  • You have completed 1 roll down

Lumbar rotations

This is a great exercise to get your low back moving into rotation and opening up your pelvic joints. It’s great for offloading the lower back, stretching through the lateral abdomen/flank and is a great activity, especially first thing in the morning.

Steps to perform

  • Lie on your back with both arms out the sides.
  • Bend both knees so they are pointing towards ceiling at about 45 degrees.
  • Keeping the knees together gently let them fall to one side.
  • Hold here momentarily to allow the stretch to happen, then slowly rotate the knees over to the other side (keeping them together throughout).
  • Repeat this 10 times, mobilising from side to side
  • Your upper back and arms should stay on the floor throughout.

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