February 17, 2011

3 point spinal alignment drill guide

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This simple standing drill is essential, if you want to be able to change the shape of the spine at will. Master the three parts of this before progressing to the hands-and-knees (floor) version of the exercise.

The novel cue is "Lift the chest" to flatten the thoracic spine: not only does it serve this alignment purpose, it elevates the ribs away from the pubic bone, exposing transversus abdominis to activation (this will become clearer in later, more advanced, drills) and the lower fibres of rectus abdominis (RA).

What we found in our classes is that the capacity to manipulate the shape of the spine with no load firstly for the purpose of getting some awareness of what that actually feels like in the body is critical to success in the later exercises. We've also found too that it's a tremendous advantage to be able to control and to change the shape of the spine against load as well later on.

Read transcription

Kit Laughlin:

Hi, everyone. Kit here. Today we're going to begin our strength and flexibility DVD with spinal alignment drills. What we found in our classes is that the capacity to manipulate the shape of the spine, with no load firstly, for the purpose of getting some awareness of what that actually feels like in the body, is critical to success in the later exercises.

We've also found too that it's a tremendous advantage to be able to control and to change the shape of the spine against load as well later on.

So I'm going to turn side on to you and we're going to go through what we call the three point alignment drill.

So if I turn to this side here like so, the first thing that you'll notice, and this is worth trying in my opinion at home by yourself, is with the knees straight, as mine are now, try tucking your tail and you'll find, in fact, that most people can't tuck their tail very far at all and that's because the hip flexors are controlling the movement.

So for the purposes of this drill, I'll bend my knees like this and the first thing that we'll practice is this. Just watch closely. We tuck the tail like this, which flattens and in fact slightly flexes the lumbar spine, and then back to neutral, and then arch the lumbar spine.

So the first drill is simply with bent knees to practice this movement slowly, and feeling in the body which muscles you have to use to do that.

In the second drill, we move up the body to this part of the spine here, which we call the thoracic spine, and the drill is very similar. We collapse the chest like this to let the back round and then without moving the hips or without moving the head, we lift the chest to a neutral position, and then we flatten the thoracic spine by lifting the sternum like so. So the whole movement would look like this is slumping, this is neutral, and this is a slight amount of extension, which brings the spine to flat in my case.

And the last movement is the movement of the neck and the neck has multiple movements and we're not going to be concerned with this one, the tilting forward or backwards but rather we're going to be concerned with this movement here, which is to bring the chin in slightly and if you think about the top of the head, the feeling in the body is to take the top of the head up and behind. So it looks like this, and try to move as little of the rest of the body as possible.

So in combination, all of the movements look like; this is the first one, this is the second one, and this is the third one. And all together you can control and identify where in your own body the least amount of movement occurs. And we can do some practice drills later on how to improve each of those, but this is where we'll begin.

 

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