Twisted spines and how to help.
Something that I see quite often in my practice are rotational imbalances of the spine. What I mean by this, is that when I look at the way someone holds them self, often times the spine can be twisted, adding stress and causing pain at different levels of the spine. There are many factors that go into why a client might be displaying these symptoms; they could have been developed from birth, one might have had an injury and developed a compensation pattern to avoid pain or it might just be a case of being right or left handed and always doing things the same way. Whatever it might be, a holistic approach to managing the condition is always needed and one part of that approach is a corrective exercise program designed to restore stability to the spine by targeting the deep muscles of the back and core and balancing out any imbalances that might exist when looking at the chains of muscles that run throughout the body.
One exercise that I have found to work particularly well when looking at conditions such as this is the horizontal horse stance, which can be seen in the picture above.
I'll have the client on all fours in what is known as the quadraped position, allowing them to safely target the deepest of the stabilizing muscles, without adding any weight to the spine, thus avoiding any pain that may come from exercising on an inflamed body. With the wooden rod across the spine, the client is able to feel for themselves when they are holding themselves correctly, because any rotations will cause the rod to drop and fall. When done correctly, it can be an extremely effective rehabilitative exercise, to help restore structural stability to spine, hips and shoulders but can also be a great exercise to add in to any exercise program where rotational movements are required.
It may not look like much, but this exercise can really highlight weaknesses in the body in a big way and working on those shortcomings can improve the way you hold yourself and move very very quickly.
Try this yourself at home!
- Get down on all fours, with your hands underneath your shoulders and your knees below your hips.
- If you have a wooden rod, such a curtain rod, place it on your back maintaining three points of contact on the back of your head, behind your shoulder blades and across your sacrum. The gap between your low back and the stick should be just enough to fit the thickest part of your hand between the two.
- Take a deep breath, exhale and draw the belly button back towards your spine, engaging the transverse abdominus (a thin sheet of muscles that wraps around the mid section giving stability and support to the low back).
- Begin by lifting one hand and the opposite knee away from the ground, leaving just enough space to slide a piece of paper between your hand and knee and the ground.
- Hold for 10 seconds and switch sides.
- Try to get at least 8-10 reps on each side and work your way up to 3 sets.
It helps a lot to get a set of eyes on you when doing any kind of these postural focused exercises, so if you would like to book a session with me you can get in contact directly by writing here.