Let's get flexible!
Try the routines below to lengthen and strengthen your torso. If you're curious about the muscles of the torso there is an anatomy lesson that follows the routines.
...but first a brief recap from my last post....
For your torso to support and help you prevent injuries here are some facts you need to know:
- Your pelvis/hips need to be aligned.
- Your shoulders, rib cage, spine, neck, and head need to be aligned.
- Your torso needs to be as long, strong, and flexible as possible.
- Your torso needs equal length, strength and flexibility in the muscles that support the front, sides, and back of the torso.
- Your vertebrae need as much healthy space between them as possible to avoid compressing downward and causing herniated or bulging discs.
- The more decompressed your vertebrae are the more height is lost as you age.
- When the torso is in neutral position the weight of the body is not forward or backward but rests in the center. From this position, the body remains light and stands effortlessly.
- When the torso is aligned with full length, strength, and flexibility your organs function better, your circulation improves, your blood pressure stays healthy.
1) Lengthening the Front of the Torso
Lie face down with the center of your pubic bone down on the Gold ball. You are supporting your body upright on your forearms and toes. Try to keep the knees off the floor.
- Extend the legs out long and place your forearms down into the floor.
- Extend your legs out longer so the ball slides just above the pubic bone. Take several breaths here pulling your pubic bone down around the ball towards the floor. This takes the ball deeper toward the psoas. Keep extending the legs OUT away from the torso so the ball can go in deeper.
- Begin to lift the chest slowly forward and up while keeping the abdomen pressed down into the ball. Take several deep breaths extending the legs out while pressing the abdomen down into the ball while lifting the chest and lower ribs.
- Slide the legs out until the ball rolls up to navel level. Keep breathing, lifting the chest, and pressing down into the ball at navel level.
- Begin focusing on lifting and widening the lower ribs to focus on the diaphragm attachments on the ribs. Try to breathe into the front, sides, and back of ribs.
- Slowly lower down. Rest on your back.
- Try to do this 1-2 more times. See how it becomes easier to keep the front of your body longer.
2) Work the Transversus Abdominus
Learning how to work this muscle is key for getting as much length between your ribs and hips as possible.
- Starting on your right side, place the gold or pearl ball about 2 fingers out from the spine in line with the top of the pelvis. You are on your back pressing down into the top of the pelvis.
- Slowly begin to roll onto the side until you get to the front of the iliac crest where it forms a corner. At this point, you are facing down towards the mat.
- From this front corner slowly roll the ball just to the right of the center of the pubic bone.
- Take the ball out and place it halfway up on your right side between your pelvis and lower ribs alongside the spine. You are on your back pressing into the ball and breathing trying to keep the lower back ribs lifted.
- Slowly roll onto the side making sure you are not putting any bodyweight down into the balls from the ribs. This is a very controlled light touch of the ribs into the ball.
- Slowly come to face down rolling the ball in towards the center of the abdomen and then slightly up at the center to be just below the sternum and front ribs.
3) LIFTING AND WIDENING THE BACK RIBSMost people are locked down in their lower back ribs. This routine helps you to focus your breathing into widening the back lower ribs and increasing your breath intake to the back of the lungs.
- Using a pearl or gold ball lying face down place the ball so it is level with the lower part of the sternum. To be in the right place, find the lower tip of your sternum. Place the width of 3 fingers up from there and place the ball at this point.
- Let your forearms rest on the floor in front of you. If this is too painful move your forearms more to your sides so you can bear more weight into them. This should not be painful on your sternum or ribs.
- Begin focusing your breath on your back ribs. Try to bring your breath into the back ribs so you can feel the ribs expanding out in your back. Once you feel the ribs expanding try to lift them upward and increase their expansion out and up. Take 5-8 breaths working with this.
- Get off the ball. Rest on your back and see if it is now easier to breathe into your back ribs.
Try these routines as often as you feel comfortable.
Anatomy: The main muscles that help support the torso
- Hip flexors,
- Pectoralis muscles
- All of the abdominal muscles,
Some of the abdominal muscles pass through the sides of the body between the ribs and pelvis including:
- The transversus abdominus, External and internal obliques, anterior serratus, and from the back, the latissimus dorsi wraps around to the side and into the shoulders out to the humerus,
- The teres major and minor go up into the shoulder joint from the sideline.
In the back of the body you have:
- The erector spinae which are the deeper intrinsic back muscles and they support spinal movements,
- More superficial to them are the inferior and superior posterior serratus, quadratus lumborum, latissimus dorsi, trapezius, rhomboids, and levator scapula.
To Your Health,