In my ongoing attempt to increase the specific posture, pain and mobility content around these parts, here is the third in an ongoing series on yoga for posture.
First, why should you be concerned about core strength? What does it have to do with back pain and posture? Well, pretty much everything.
Your spine is a stacked column of alternating tubes and sponge mats. Imagine, if you will, a column of alternating golf balls and toilet paper tubes. How does such a thing stay erect? Some force must be applied to it.
Well, the source of force keeping your spine erect is the muscles of the spine and the core. If you’re training your spinal muscles to keep it upright, and your glutes to keep the base level, what about your core; the muscles of your abdomen and lower back? Your core is going to provide the stability to keep the whole thing steady.
So how do we do it? Begin with dead bug. What I’m about to write here is a little more Pilates, and a little less yoga, but what the heck, if it works, it works. And believe you me, dead bug as a basic core exercise WORKS.
So, dead bug:
Lie on your back, relax and find the natural curve of your spine. Your hips, mid spine, shoulders and head should be resting on the floor. Your neck should not touch the floor, nor should your lumbar curve. To check on your lumbar curve, slide your hands under your low back. You might not be able to slide them in far enough to touch your fingertips together, but they should go at least part way. Now:
- Brace your core, tightening the muscles of your abdomen, lower abdomen and low back.
- Raise your legs, knees bent, until your thighs are vertical.
- Hold your shins parallel to the floor.
- Lay your arms at your sides, palms down.
- Hold for five to ten seconds.
That’s it, basic dead bug. Want to add a challenge, add toe taps. Without relaxing your core, or moving your lumbar spine:
- Keep your knees bent 90° and your toes pointed.
- Without moving your left leg and keeping your right leg bent 90°
- Tap your right big toe to the floor.
- Return your right leg to vertical knee bent 90°.
- Repeat, tapping the left toes.
Do a set of 5 taps for each leg, alternating left and right. Repeat for 3 to 5 sets total. The key to this exercise is to maintain the natural spine curve through the leg motions. Do not press your low back to the floor, do not press your neck to the floor. You are training your core and your spine to engage and do work while holding a natural spine curve, in other words, the spine curve for proper posture.
Find basic dead bug with toe taps a little easy? Want to up the challenge? We can do that, next time.