Today’s exercise is a go-to solution I give clients for homework, especially if they are experiencing back pain, or chronic feelings of tightness in their backs. It’s inspired by an exercise from Marie-José Blom’s Smartspine™ System.
Your inhale and exhale are the most powerful tool for keeping your spine supple, nourished, and feeling great and we’re going to learn how to use this normally unconscious process to make your back feel great.
Your diaphragm is your breathing muscle. It creates the floor of your thorax and separates your thoracic cavity from your abdominal cavity. It has many deep muscle fiber attachments to your ribs, vertebral bodies, psoas, and quadratus lumborum. It also has visceral relationships with your heart, lungs, pulmonary and lymphatic systems.
“The constant descent and ascent of the diaphragm creates a constant ‘milking’ or massaging of these vital organs as well as the abdominal organs and contributes to enormous energy efficiency.” Marie-José Blom
We’re focusing on the diaphragm because it plays such a major role in your overall health and wellness. Specifically, today’s exercise addresses the diaphragm’s attachments to the front of your spine, called crura, and also your diaphragm’s attachments to your 11th and 12th ribs.
When you inhale your diaphragm descends, causing the attachments on the front of your spine to gently pull down on your spine in a really nice way.
And while this action is happening on the front of your spine, the descent of your diaphragm is also stimulating an upward rotation of your ribs.
This movement of your ribs results in each rib articulating with two vertebral bodies, which decompress one vertebrae, and as a result of this internal movement, an elongation throughout your entire spine happens!
These are just two of the actions that happen naturally with every breath you take. There are many more!
Stress and poor alignment habits can change how you breathe, resulting in shallow breathing, or breathing that inappropriately uses your neck and shoulders. Poor alignment and breathing habits can also contribute to poor spine health and can leave your back feeling chronically stiff.
I could show you a million stretches to relieve back pain and tightness, but if we never take a look at how you’re currently breathing and how it contributes to the health of your back, it wouldn’t matter.
This is my absolute favorite exercise for relieving my back.
If you try it out, I’d love to hear how it goes in the comments below!
See you in the studio,
P.S. I don’t mention this in the video, but if you can warm your bath towel up in the dryer before the exercise, it feels even better and is even more effective!
P.P.S. If you have difficulty relaxing your shoulders during the exercise, try resting your elbows on a table like I’m doing in the photo above.