I wanted to share with you all a really great exercise to mobilize the spine: The Cow and Cat. We will also take what we learn here into our plank positions!
There are two really important things to remember during these exercises in order to keep your spine healthy: support and stabilization
Too many planks are done wrong in this world. This makes me so very, very sad! Relying on our skeleton to hold us up usually meanse that the lumbar vertebrae are getting all the load and are suffering.
Let me teach you how to properly stabilize your spine and core, so all your planks in the future will be efficient and have no side effects.
... on your hands and knees. Make sure your knees are underneath your hips, and your wrists are underneath your shoulders. Check that your thighs and arms are perfectly perpendicular to the floor.
We will begin here with a cow and cat...
First draw the shoulders back and away from the ears. Really pull them back, especially the outer arm pits because when you do that, you feel the deep muscles around the shoulder area are working even harder.
Draw the chest and sternum bone forward as you direct your gaze a few inches forward.
Then try to press your shoulder blades against your chest.
On the EXHALATION, drop your head, separate your shoulder blades and pull your belly in and up.
Come back into the cow stretch with shoulders back and chest forward.
On the INHALATION keep the mid back fairly neutral, relax and really try to bring the backbend into the upper back. Many of us simply sink into the lower back but this part is already very mobile and flexible.
During the backbend imagine pressing your shoulder blades into the chest, bring the your heart further forward. Try to feel the muscles in between the shoulder blades contract by pulling up more and keeping your lower and mid back relaxed without compressing it.
Drop your head for cat stretch as you EXHALE and draw your tailbone all the way down and pubic bone forward, then draw your shoulders and outer armpits back for cow stretch.
Come into neutral position to relax.
Utilizing These Tips In A Plank
When we step into the plank position we want to keep the upper back in a cow stretch and bring the lower back into a little bit of a cat stretch. It is essentially both positions together in one pose. This may seem to be a contradiction but be patient, we'll figure it out.
Step the feet back, hip distance apart. Shoulders still over the wrists. Often in this position we may see the bum lift up a bit too high, sag too low or drop the head as compensation patterns.
Aim to bring the chest forward and draw your arms back. This should be lot of work for the arms and shoulders.
Look about six inches in front of the fingertips.
Use the lower body and back to pull your tailbone straight back directly through your heels and firm your lower abdominal wall. Imagine you are doing the cat stretch but don't let the rounding come into the upper back and don't let the backbend come into the lower back.
I hope this was informative and will help your spine happy and healthy during your Planks.
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