spine mobility

Spinal Mobility to Prevent Back Pain

While it is important to strengthen your spine muscles to hold your core up, it’s just as important to keep the spine mobile in all directions. Most of us hunch forward due to our seated lifestyle on computers and driving. However this means we rarely think about moving the spine in the other six directions. Try to move the spine forward, backward, left and right, twisted horizontally and elongated everyday. Picture the spine like playdough, the longer you leave it, the stiffer it gets. The more you play with it, the more pliable and supple it is.

Your spine will become more and more immobile if you do not focus on keeping healthy spinal mobility. Just getting an adjustment is not enough. Empower yourself to stretch and strengthen your spine. Make sure to check with your doctor before stretching to make sure its safe but then do some gentle yoga. Many restorative yoga poses are focused on spinal mobility. To elongate the spine you can stand with your feet hip distance apart and hang forward with the neck relaxed. This elongates the spine and reduces compression from sitting and standing. You can also do child’s pose which helps decompress the spine.

To move the spine left and right, stand with your feet about three feet apart and reach up and over to each side. You will feel a stretch in your side ribs as you open up each side of your ribs.

To move the spine in a twisting motion, you can lie on your back and bring in one knee at a time and drape it over your body while your head looks the other way. It is important to keep both shoulders on the ground and to first bring in the right leg. As you do this pose which is called supine twist, you are stimulating your ascending colon. Your ascending colon is on the right side and your descending is on the left. It’s important to keep your food moving in the right direction.

To move the spine backwards you can lie on your stomach with your palms face down on the ground. Using the strength of your spine lift only to the point where you feel no pain at all. Try not to let your shoulders shrug up to your ears but pull them down and reach your chest forward and up. If you are able to do bridge pose you can try it by lying on your back, bend your knees placing your feet on the ground so you can reach your heels with the ends of your finger tips. Lift your hips creating an arch in the upper spine. Keep your head straight and avoid looking side to side you protect your neck while you’re in this pose.

If any of these poses sound confusing, try searching for the names of the poses for a picture. I recommend stretching two to three times each day to keep your spine mobile. Remember though it is equally important to strengthen as it is to stretch. If your muscles are too limber and not strong enough you can be out of alignment. On the contrary if you are too strong and not limber, you can be too tight and harbor tension.

Shannon Yrizarry

Shannon Yrizarry is a health and wellness professional who was healed from chronic back pain in 2003 after studying the mind-body connection. She went on to study the physical and mental benefits of yoga and now teaches classes and workshops in Southern California. She has also worked as an organic health consultant and writes about how to eat a clean whole foods diet incorporating gluten-free, raw, and dairy free options.