Newsletter no. 12 – Thursday 26 August, 2021
This is the web-based version of Stretch Therapy Newsletter no. 12
Spinal extension – passive back bends
These three exercises can reverse many of the negative effects of ageing: stoop, head forward posture, 'academic' or 'dowager's' hump, rounded shoulders, decreased lung capacity ... you get the drift. These are anti-ageing, in other words. Adding one of the hip flexor exercises completes the package, in terms of working the fascial front line.
One of the other most noticeable effects of ageing is an overall stiffness and lack of fluidity in movement. We have found that once the spine lengthens, it arranges itself more efficiently in line with the pull of gravity, and less effort is required in all daily life movement – this is experienced as grace and ease.
The exercises are also major fascial releases, as well, and as we work deeper in this area, we have come to believe that the 'best bang for the buck’ (in the sense of results gained for time spent) exercises are the ones that load, or work, more of the fascia at one time than more specific exercises.
As soon as you experience the wonderful feeling of alignment that comes from doing the three, you won't need any evidence or argument, though: it just feels great to do. Please pay close attention to the details for best results.
Solo back bend: open your chest and straighten your upper back
In this video, Kit demonstrates a solo back bend over a purpose-built device, the "baby whale", but any firm rounded surface (like the end of a couch) can be used. If you are a bit stiffer than he is, a tightly rolled beach towel on the floor works beautifully to start the process.
The key is to let your body mould slowly over the working surface; don't force anything.
The keys to this are two: letting the whole body go completely limp, and breathing normally. Move your awareness from one to the other, and back again, and before you know it, this area of the body will have opened.
Piano stool back bend
The beauty of this back bend is that it allows accurate targeting of two, or three, vertebrae at a time – if you know where your back is stiff, you can use this exercise to target that spot precisely. The addition of rotation, and a shift of the hips and legs away from a single hand hold, winds on a fantastic fascial dimension. You do not need ladder bars as shown in this video; any support (like a heavy table) behind you can be used the same way.
Partner back bend over support
This is the Rolls Royce of passive back bends. Kit is applying traction to Olivia's shoulders by leaning back from where she is gripping his thigh, and he is gripping the fascia “sleeves” of her arms, and Dave** is applying traction to all the superficial fascia over her ribs in the opposite direction to Kit's force. Her whole spine is being lengthened and all the fascia on the front line of the trunk is too, as a result. Dave's hands also provide tactile cues for Olivia to direct her breathing into those parts of the chest and ribs.
A note from a student