2 Drills To Test and Improve Spinal Mobility
When it comes to strength training, we tend to break our workouts down into body parts. Today may be arm day. Maybe some core work tomorrow. But are you implementing spinal mobility work into your routine?
You’ve probably been around long enough to know what lower back pain feels like or how debilitating upper back stiffness can be in your daily life. After all, everyone experiences back or neck pain at some point in their lives.
Dear friends, this does not have to be your reality!
Get a head start on opening up your precious vertebrae with these two powerful drills that will test and increase your spinal mobility.
#1 Forward Spinal Flexion: The Unweighted Jefferson Curl
When it comes to maintaining optimal spinal mobility, one must not overlook the fact that the spine was designed to flex forward. If it wasn’t, then we would all be walking around with spines that are locked and rigid like a steel pipe.
Complete spinal flexion involves articulating the three segments of your spine (cervical, thoracic, and lumbar) as you “curl” your spine forward — imagine bending down to reach the floor.
Test it out:
To test your spinal flexion you can perform this unweighted variation of the Jefferson Curl, a fan favorite from Foundation One. Start in an upright position with your feet together and knees straight. From the neck down begin to curl your spine downwards as if it were melting to the floor.
Once you reach your end range of motion, simply reverse the motion back to the top keeping your chin tucked to your chest until the very end.
Try this unweighted variation of one of our most popular GB Foundation exercises.
An inability to articulate any of the three segments of your spine will result in compensation through the other remaining segments. For example, if your lumbar spine (or lower back) lacks flexion then your upper back will be forced to pick up the slack.
#2 Thoracic Extension: Bridge Wall Walk
Thoracic what?! Many people do not know this, but spinal extension is a job that only the thoracic spine is designed to handle — at least under load.
But what exactly is the thoracic spine? The thoracic spine is nestled comfortably between your cervical and lumbar vertebrae. And what makes your thoracic spine unique is that it was designed to hold up your ribcage, making it the most mobile part of your spine.
If you want to see how functional your thoracic spine is, then try this quick test to uncover any limitations.
Test it out:
Start facing away from an open wall, about a foot away from its base. Extend your arms overhead until they are covering your ears. Gaze towards the wall behind you as you reach your arms towards the wall, then with control pull yourself back to standing.
For an Added Spinal Mobility challenge:
If you want to take your spinal mobility to the next level, continue walking down the wall until you end up in a bridge position on the floor before walking back up.
Remember: take baby steps. Start out going only as low as you feel comfortable. Gradually you will be able to reach the floor with both hands, but it may take some time. Patience is key when it comes to improving your thoracic mobility, but your persistence will be well worth the investment.
Keeping your spine in check should be a top priority, no matter what your fitness goals are. Be sure to check out GymnasticBodies Fundamentals for many more diagnostic tools for assessing joint strength and mobility- you won't regret it.