There are many different ways for the back or spine to gain length.
We do so with conscious, easy, gentle movements.
For example, if we tend to find our shoulders hunched forwards.
Or we’ve noticed or feel our chest is sinking down or into ourselves. Where our back has begun to round some.
Say from too much sitting at staring at a screen.
Even to the point of our head repeatedly positioned forwards. Where gravity wins the day. We keep sinking into ourselves.
Which isn’t a bad thing after work or heavy physical activity.
But if our posture doesn’t straighten up in an easy manner.
Where we’re still groaning and moaning (when we get up out of the chair). That can be changed when we dive into our own world of somatics.
When our posture is in good standing.
We do not have to try to stand tall. There is equal and comfortable tension holding us up.
Where we tend to both vertically and horizontally stand in alignment.
Regain Length in the Spine
So here’s a simple move to regain some length in the spine. And maintain the ability to turn or twist our spine around.
The first check or marker in the following movement is to feel where you can comfortably move to.
It does not matter if it is only an inch or less. The main thing is to feel. To know where your comfortable range of motion is.
When we somatically go about this. We are NOT striving, pushing or going for range of motion. If we do. That can have the potential of turning on the ‘stretch reflex’.
Where our muscles can get reset back to more tightness or stiffness. And usually nobody wants that.
You’ll need some space on a floor. Where you can place your back on it.
Use whatever prop, mat, towel, etc. To help be as comfortable as possible.
Lie on your back. Knees bent. Feet flat.
You’ll extend both arms out in front of you to form a steeple.
The idea here is too keep the shape in a comfortable manner. So that you are not holding your arms stiffly straight. A loose, easy, relaxed straight pair of arms. With the palms comfortably together.
Movement Part 1
When you begin. You are checking or exploring where your easy comfortable range of motion is.
Move both straight arms to one side. As if both arms could make it to the floor.
Movement Part 2 – The Key
Slowly move back to where you started. Feel how your body adjusts itself on the way back.
Movement Part 3 – Pause or Rest
Pretty self explanatory. Main thing is to rest in the starting position. That way the movement is turned off while you rest with your arms out in front of you.
Repeat the Movement
Explore again where your comfortable range of motion is. If you can move a little further towards the floor. Without any strain or big effort. Then by all means allow the movement to be easy.
If either arm bends. Then only go as far as to keep both arms loosely straight.
You don’t have to move this far. Unless it is super easy.
Remember. Stay well within your personal comfort zone.
When you reverse course. Slowly move and feel how your body adjusts.
Now you can rinse and repeat. Yet be aware of what and where you are feeling. Or experiencing sense perceptions as they arise.
After you do that say four or five more times. Let the arms rest back on the floor.
In this resting phase. Notice whatever you feel as your are lying down.
Were you able to keep your palms together? If they slipped apart. That is a marker for your comfortable range of motion at this time.
Were you able to keep the arms straight? If they started to bend. That is a marker for your comfortable range of motion at this time.
Were you able to move a little further? By not trying to force or push the range of motion.
Were you able to keep your knees upright pointing towards the ceiling? I know I didn’t mention it because I first wanted you to get a sense of the movement first.
So you can either try the move again. Or wait until you move towards the other side.
By keeping the knees pointing up towards the ceiling. Again, you are feeling your present comfortable range of motion.
Now that you have the idea of the movement. Begin again with a small, easy, explorative movement.
Then as you begin to move a few more times.
Does this side feel the same or a little different than the other side?
Can you rotate your upper body to the side while keeping the knees in the middle?
And were you breathing or holding your breath?
If you weren’t paying attention to your breath. You can do the movement exhaling as you turn to the side. Then inhaling as you return.
What do feel or experience as you breath in that manner?
As you were moving and returning. Did you feel or notice how your feet were making contact with the ground?
As you felt the shift onto your shoulder. What did you feel or sense with your opposite side foot. Or both feet?
Who Has the Answer
See. The only one who truly knows the answer to these questions. Is You!
Final Range of Motion Check
And oh by the way. Did you feel your back get longer? Or have the felt sense your spine grew a little?
This type of internal sensory information. Is a big part of your ability to be both interoceptively and proprioceptively be aware. Or somatically aware for short.
This is why we somatically dive back into ourselves.
We do gentle movements to feel the answers to such internal questions. Or observations by checking in.
Again, it’s NOT about the range of motion. It’s about the quality of your movement where sensations/feelings matter most.
Feel the Change or Difference
With practice over the course of the next few days. You may begin to feel/sense another level (somatic) awareness. And have an ability for easier and greater range of motion (without pushing or striving).
Plus, if you are driving. You may begin to sense you can turn around in the seat a little more.
Conscious, simple movement explorations done with specificity. Unlocks holding tension levels. Stiffness leaves. We free ourselves from within.
How to Maintain Comfortable Movement
Maintaining easy, comfortable movement happens one way. Ya gotta consciously move. Preferably in the slow ‘cortical zone’ of the brain.
That way the brain can reset length.
So check in. Rinse and repeat to your heart’s delight.
Then when you add in other differentiated movement patterns.
This particular movement can feel or be sensed in a different way. Or at a different level. Where you’ll have a deeper appreciation for how your body can more easily move.
Easy, comfortable movement happens when you check-in. And remind yourself from the inside out.