Fitness Expert’s Tip of the Month- Sep 09

Exercise to Help your Spine

Have you ever woken up feeling as stiff as a board? Or stepped out of the car (or plane) after a long trip, and wondered if your back would ever be the same? While many of us have had those moments, it’s what you do about it that will make all the difference in your back.

One of my favorite Pilates warm-up exercises is called the standing roll-down. It’s perfect regardless of how tight you may be, or what your Pilates experience is. The roll-down is all about creating articulation in your spine. When preformed correctly for several reps each day, you will notice a HUGE difference in overall tightness, range of motion, and flexibility in your back, and hamstrings.

Begin by standing at either the corner of a wall, or a door jam. Place your feet about 2 inches forward from the wall (feet parallel), but align your glutes, back, and head to the wall. Next, draw your tail bone downward to your heals. This will lengthen your lower back and activate your hamstrings. Draw your navel to your spine, and broaden your shoulders to create a squared-off line from right to left shoulder.

Once you’re in position, you’ll want to inhale through your nose in preparation for movement. Then as you exhale through your mouth, draw your chin towards your chest and begin to “roll down” your body, creating a scooped belly and rounded back. This segmental movement should be slow, fluid, and controlled. Allow your body to “roll” down the wall, until you feel your weight begin to pitch forward into your toes, rather than being balanced between toes and heels. When this happens, you’ve reached your limit for today. Pause at your lowest point with an inhale, and as you exhale, begin to re-stack your spine one vertebrae at a time until the back of your head once again reaches the wall.

Remember this movement is not initiated from your hips, but from the crown of your head. When done correctly it will offer relief for a tight back, a great warm-up before your tennis match, or golf game, or even the perfect stretch before a long ride, or run.

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~ Amy Lademann, Fitness Expert, Campus Calm

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