If the ability to move your spine would determine your age. How old would you be?

With spinal injury rates going through the roof, maintaining spine mobility should be everyone’s priority. Especially if you spend long hours behind a desk! That one hour of gym-time a day is not going to make up for 10 hours of sitting, so you need to do more! The key to keep your spine healthy, is to move it more throughout the day.

Since ancient time the human spine has been connected to health and vitality. Greek healers like Hippocrates and Socrates already mentioned ‘If you would seek health, look first to the spine’. There are several layers to that. Some physical, some mental. Some internal, some external.

 

Let’s talk some spine…

The human spine is at the center of our being. Everything is attached to it and everything is ruled by it. We can live without our limbs, but it’s impossible to remove the spine and live to tell.  

Your spine has 24 vertebrae. 7 cervical (neck), 12 thoracic (upper/mid back) and 5 lumbar (lower back). In the ideal world, you want to be able to move all of those segments independently from surrounding parts (your hips, shoulders and head).

It is not just your bony spine that is important, but the stuff inside it too! Your spinal cord and spinal fluid.

The spinal cord is a part of the central nervous system and together with your brain it is basically responsible for everything that happens in your body…

Your brain and spinal cord are surrounded with a clear and colorless fluid; your spinal fluid. It acts as a buffer against trauma. It also transports waste products from the brain into your bloodstream and nutrients from your bloodstream into your brain. To do that optimally, it has to circulate freely through your skull and spine.

Movement (and especially extension) of the spine stimulates the movement of the spinal fluid and thus the flow of nutrients into your brain. That makes moving your spine essential if you want your brain to function properly.

Also, all of your organs are attached in some way to the spine. Your organs need movement too to work and stay healthy. So if your spine is stuck, your organs suffer as well!

More than just spine…

Your subconscious mind is attuned to people’s spines as well. It automatically reads the human torso.

Sitting, standing or moving with a supple and straight spine is seen as a youthful, energetic and confident thing. On the other hand, a stiff, bent or slouched spine is seen as shy, old and tired.

You can also use your spine and posture to change your own mental state. If you’re feeling down or tired, try standing or sitting up straight, with your chest forward and head up. It will make you feel more confident and awake. Slumping and looking down does the opposite.

That means your (in)ability to move your spine is directly linked to everything that happens inside your body and mind, and people pick up on that body language.

So, standing tall and straight will not only change the perception other people have of you, but also makes you FEEL better. Win-win situation, right?

Think about your own spine. How often do you sit or stand straight up? How does it feel when you move it? How often do you move it? I mean REALLY move it, consciously, all the way, through all the planes of movement. Bending/extending, side to side bending and rotating, or a combination.

Most often, the lower back can’t actively bend and the upper backs can’t fully extend. If one area can’t do its job, other parts are trying to make up for that lack of motion; a recipe for pain and injury.

For example, a lot of shoulder issues arise from the inability to extend the upper back.

Sitting behind a desk all day is not benificial for your spinal health. The human body is not built to sit around, but to move around. Joints like to be moved. Muscles like to be shortened and lengthened, that’s how they are built. Movement stimulates your brain, it aids in digestion, it mitigates stress, and keeps your muscles and joints healthy.

A mobile spine is a happy spine!

And a happy spine doesn’t hurt. So what can you do to make your spine more mobile?

Here are a few simple exercises you can do to improve how your spine is moving.

There are 3 sections of your spine. You can either move them all together or get more specific and focus on 1 section only.

Standing lumbopelvic CARS

Standing lumbar spine CARS

Seated thoracic CARS

Neck CARS

The idea behind these exercises is to move each section of your spine through its full range of motion. Every joint is moved, every muscle is shortened and lengthened. Try 3-7 reps each way!

A few tips:

  1. Try to visualize all your vertebrae and move them one by one. If you have a hard time to feel the movement, use a mirror for extra feedback
  2. Go slow..! 

You shouldn’t feel pain during the rotations. If you feel pain, make the circle of motion smaller. If the pain persists, send us a message! We can help!

You can also do your spinal movements to music.  Don’t overthink or overcomplicate it, just move.  Put some music on, bring on those old dance moves and laugh away!

Here is a little video for inspiration

That’s it for today! I would love to hear what you think!

You can leave a comment below or send me an email at pieter@gustavphysio.com

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Until next time!