Last week we looked at simple hip rocks, this week we will step it up a level to get more movement through the entire back, looking at what I call back rolls to get into a yoga pose called a bridge. To get used to the movement and to really pay attention to your whole spinal column we also start this one by lying down on the ground.
With your feet flat on the ground, knees pointing upwards practice your hip rocks again, tipping your hips forward and backwards, feeling your low back come on and off the ground. When you have refreshed your body’s memory of this movement, begin to use your legs and abdominal strength to lift from your hips, rolling one vertebrae off the ground at a time. Keep your shoulders and neck relaxed on the ground. Raise your body while you count to four and then lower your body, placing one vertebra back on the ground at a time, for a count of four.
The first day you do this, try one or two lifts and then continue your hip rocks. For the first week of doing this daily only lift 2-3 times. This is simply to get your body used to the movement before you begin to strengthen the muscles you are using. Add 1-2 more lifts each week for a month up to 8 lifts and don’t forget to continue to practice your hip rocks. With a progression like this you will be able to quickly strengthen your back and abdominal muscles (your core) while also providing some fluidity and movement into your back.
When you begin to notice some stability in your legs and back when doing this pose (if you can’t tell, you aren’t there yet) you can hold the pose. This is a little bit of a challenge for most beginners and puts more pressure on the legs and neck. To hold the bridge pose focus your mind on lifting your hips upwards as well as your chest, trying to bring your upper back off the floor but keeping your shoulders and neck relaxed on the floor. Hold this pose for 4-8 counts and then lower as you would before.
If you are not ready to hold the bridge pose but would like to challenge yourself in the back roll more, increase your count of four. Raise and lower your back to a count of 5, 6, 7, or 8 as you see fit. Do not push yourself too much. As with most exercise, doing less and more frequently (every day) will provide you with greater long term benefits than trying to do more all at once.
If at any time this hurts, stop-its that simple. If you find that with any of these exercises you notice consistent pain or discomfort you should seek out a personal trainer or doctor to make sure you are doing the exercises appropriately for your body.
Be sure to stick with this series as we continue to look at child’s pose, cat and cow, downward and upward dog, and cobra to support stretching and strengthening our backs.
Jillian Carnrick, founder and manager of The Dancing Herbalist, has a Masters of Science Degree in Herbal Medicine, practices as a nutritionist, and is a Certified Personal Trainer and Exercise Is Medicine Professional through the American College of Sports Medicine. The Dancing Herbalist posts on this blog every Thursday. For more of our posts, join us on Patreon. Jillian also presents regular live classes in The Dancing Herbalist’s home herbalist courses online. For more learning opportunities or to work one-on-one with Jillian with her wellness and herbal consultations visit The Dancing Herbalist.com.