How easily does your back move?

If we think about the spine, there are 3 main planes of movement: flexion and extension, (arching-rounding), side-bending, and twisting.

I’d like to focus a little about twisting.

Twisting is where our power comes from.

As upright mammals without massive muscles in our jaws (think crocodiles) or paws- who’d want to be swiped by a lion’s rather powerful limb!) Our power is in our twist.
The ability to use the whole of our body to twist is what powers the punch of a trained fighter. Whilst I’m not suggesting we all start punching other people, I am saying that our ability to twist through the whole length of the spine is linked to its health, and our capacity for movement and power.

Try it yourself. (5 min lesson)

You’ll need to take responsibility for yourself if you choose to do this, and move only in a way that feels safe for you. Loosen any belts, take off your glasses, and shoes. We usually lie on the floor on a blanket or mat, but feel free to do it on your bed if that’s not a reasonable option for you.

Lie down for a moment with your legs long. Sense how much of your pelvis is connected to the floor. Next, feel the space behind your low back – the lumbar curve. You can do this with your hands if that’s comfortable for you. Move your attention upwards, to the middle of your back, your upper back and neck, up to your head.

Do the amount of movement that is easy to do, and don’t strain. Stay within your comfortable range.

1. Make your right leg long. Put your left leg standing, the knee bent towards the ceiling.
Push with your left leg to roll your pelvis to the right. Imagine it’s an oval rolling pin. How much of the back of your pelvis, and your low back can flatten into the floor as you roll your pelvis to the right and back?
Repeat this a few times, seeing if you can co-ordinate the roll with breathing out. Each time see if you can let go of more muscular power, so that more of your back flattens towards the floor as you roll to the right and back.

2. Pause, and bring the right leg to standing. Feel how your low back gets closer to the floor on the right side now.
a) Roll your pelvis again to the right, pushing with the left foot into the floor to create the momentum. See if any more of your back joins in. Breathe out to assist your brain in interfering less with what you’re doing. Often we inhibit our movements less on an out breath. Is your head still or rolling?

3. As you continue to roll to the right, allow your head to roll to the right as well. Feel how the whole of your spine is rolling to the right. The spine connects the head to the Pelvis. Can you sense the ribs changing their pressure with the floor as you roll?
Repeat a few times, as many as stays interesting, before you get tired, and then leave that and pause.

4. Wrap both arms around yourself. Your left hand on the R shoulder, and R hand under the L armpit.
Use both hands to help you roll your chest to the right, and return. Where can you soften in the back to allow the right side of your ribcage-rolling pin to contact the floor? How smooth and comfortable can you make this. Are you including your L foot, your pelvis and your head?

5. If not, consciously use all of yourself to roll to the right and back a few times. Make the movement continuous, smooth and pleasurable.  Then lengthen your legs and rest.
Is there a difference in how much of your back is in contact with the floor?  
If you have more of your back on the floor, some of your extensor muscles have let go, and become more balanced. Something, as children that we do naturally. We usually need to consciously explore movements as adults to change our habits of physical holding.  

Try it out on the other side too! 

If you’re curious to improve, come to the classes this month and work with us further on improving the function of your back!

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