Bridge Your Way to Better Posture
The Thoracic Bridge is one of the best exercises used to maintain the strength, durability, and health of your spine. We'll show you how to bulletproof your mobility with progressions that fit easily into your weekly routine. Performed with proper form this exercise yields amazing results in not only your athletic performance but also your postural alignment.
Many movements that we do throughout our day are done out in front of our bodies; activities like sitting, walking, and weightlifting. These daily activities create tension in the muscles in front of our bodies which leads to an imbalance in the back of our bodies. This forces our spinal erectors to work harder to support the weight of our bodies when we move, causing tightness and even lower back pain.
GymnasticBodies founder Coach Christopher Sommer mentioned in a podcast with Tim Ferriss, author of Tools of Titans that he would rank elevated bridge in the GB Stretch Courses as one of the top 3 exercises for joint health and mobility. This exercise, along with the Jefferson Curl and Shoulder Extension stretch, provide the most bang for your buck. Many elite level coaches in gymnastics, CrossFit, and yoga utilize the bridge into their athletes’ training. The bridge is intended to pre-hab the spine for improved athletic performance and improved durability of the back on the field of play.
Steps to the Thoracic Bridge
The benefits of learning the bridge not only benefit athletes, but also office workers with upper back stiffness or lower back pain. To perform the full bridge requires both strength through the posterior chain as well as active flexibility in the chest, shoulders, upper back, and hips. These are all muscles that are shortened when sitting.
Many beginners try to force their way into the bridge by arching their lower backs. This just sounds like a bad idea… Ouch! A great way to progress towards the bridge is take the time to stretch. This dedicated mobility training improves flexibility in the upper back (thoracic spine).
Now that we’ve gone over why it’s important, let’s get into these three steps towards building a perfect gymnastics bridge.
Step 1: Table
The first step towards building a bridge is a progression called table. This wonderful exercise reverses the effects of sitting by stretching the chest, shoulders, biceps, and hips. To get into position, start seated on the floor with your hands placed down behind you. Next, bend your knees and bring flat feet about 1.5 feet from your hips. Lift your hips up so they are parallel to the ground. Make sure to keep your glutes engaged at the top of the movement. The table can be performed by holding the top position for the desired time or for repetitions. This table exercise is incredibly beneficial and should be included in your gymnastics home workout plan.
Get started developing your elevated bridge using the GymnasticBodies Stretch Courses!
Step 2: Elevated Bridge
Performing the bridge with your feet elevated above your hips, will help prevent you from arching through the lower back. To enter the elevated bridge, place your feet firmly onto an elevated surface and then press strongly into a bridge. Make sure to keep your elbows straight, unless you want to risk losing control. If your shoulders are too tight to enter from the bottom position, then there is an option to lower down into a bridge from a handstand with your back against the wall. Focus on pressing your chest forwards away from your feet to emphasize the upper back and shoulders. Either technique you choose will help you move towards the third step of full bridge.
Step 3: Full Bridge
The third and final step is the full bridge. This step is performed the same way as the elevated bridge with the exception that your feet will be on the ground. When performed correctly, you will feel your shoulders stack over your hands with legs extended. This requires good flexibility in your thoracic spine. The benefits earned from the work put into learning the bridge can help you gain a healthy, injury free spine that won’t break under pressure.
To bridge your way to better posture, make sure to check out the Thoracic Bridge Stretch Series, which has 24 progressions that will stretch your shoulders, upper back, and chest.