The spine is central to our bodies. It’s what holds us upright, besides the muscles of course. When describing the spine, we talk about the 4 natural curves in it and how they each play a part not only in our mobility but also how we absorb the environment/external stimuli.
Anatomy of the Spine
The spine has a concave curve at the neck and lower back and convex curve in the mid back and sacrum (below the lower back and above the tail bone). These 4 curves allow our body to absorb the shock of when our feet hit the ground or an external force hits us. If these curves are changed, it changes our alignment and how our bodies will react.
If you have an excessive curve in the mid back, like the hunchback of Notre Dame, then the curve above in the neck will be flattened to accommodate this and pull your head forward. Our spines are a link and each piece needs to compensate for what is happening above and below it. Remember learning about arches that were built without mortar but used a keystone? Well if you find that keystone block and remove it, the arch would fall down. Our spine is similar in that each vertebrae relies on the ones above and below to be where they ought to be and if they are not, it affects the entire spine alignment.
We can think of this another way, if your mid back is really stiff, then your lower back will be very mobile and if you don’t have the core strength to contain that mobility, then you can injure the lower back due to excessive movement occurring there.
Breathing and the Spine
So how do improve and balance the mobility in our spines? Breathing is one way. Sit with your back supported. Now hold your breath. What do you feel? Your whole body should be tense limiting the motion you have. Now place one hand on top of the other. As you inhale lift the top hand towards the ceiling and on exhalation, return it to the other hand. Did you feel how your body lengthened/got taller as you inhaled? Try it again and feel the mobility in your spine.
Micromovements of the Spine
When thinking of movement in the spine you don’t need to make huge motions and use the large muscles in the back. In fact, this could create muscle spasms and tension. Instead you want to engage the deep tiny muscles that connect the vertebrae and keep the spine soft. Remember when you have tension it restricts your mobility, so instead soften the muscles rather than “muscling it” and soften the spine with exhalation to allow small movements and an ease of movement.
I was in ballet class one day and had my leg extended behind me. My teacher told me to release my back. When I did, my lower abdominals activated and my leg rose higher without consciously lifting it. It rose due to releasing the tension in the large muscles of the back to allow for increased mobility.
Core and the Spine
Did you notice what I just wrote? When I released my large back muscles, my core immediately took over. The core: lower abdominals, gluts., pelvic floor, is what will stabilize your spine and allow supple movement of it. This in itself will increase your range in motion to improve your mobility.
So What Do I Do Now?
Not sure how on your own to actually get that softness back in the spine without creating those horrible back spasms, contact our expert in movement dysfunctions by clicking here to schedule a Free 20 minute call to discuss how we can help you.
To Your Health,