Help for an Achy Back
Who doesn't struggle with an achy back? No matter how you struggle or what you do, try this:
1. Round and arch in sitting: Sit on the edge of a hard chair. Round and arch your back a small amount, letting the head move with the spine. Not your full range!! Put your hands on your hips to make sure the pelvis is also moving and the sit bones are tilting on the chair. Now, pay attention to the head. When the pelvis stops moving, stop moving the head. Don't continue to drop the head down after the rest of the spine has stopped. You're overworking. Rest a moment, then reverse it: Round your back and face up. (This looks like a slouch.) Then straighten your back and face down. Repeat this seven or eight times, slowly, without force. Slower and smaller than you think. Then go back to the original configuration a few times. Is it easier?
2. Pressing on the arms (or a towel): Lying on the floor with the knees bent, lift the pelvis and slide a hand or forearm under the low back. If this is too much for the shoulder, roll a towel and put it there. Lower the pelvis. Let the knees drop to the side so the soles of the feet touch. In this position, roll up on the the arm and off it again. Your tailbone will lift off the floor and come back. Watch for any tension in the jaw. Do many movements. (Variation: if the hips are not comfortable, just keep the knees bent and do it.) Pause, stand the feet, lift the pelvis, take the arm out. Rest a moment, then do the other arm a number of times. You can also do this with both arms under the low back, one nearer the head and one nearer the pelvis. Really lean the back onto the arms. Do that many times, and after a rest switch the position of the arms so the other one is closer to the head. Again, watch the jaw! Rest comfortably with the legs long before you get up.
3. Ice-cream scoop the elbows: Sit at the edge of a hard chair, interlace your hands behind your skull with the elbows pointed forwards. Gently round the back to point the elbows toward the thighs, then along the legs, the floor, and up the wall toward the ceiling. You'll be leaning forward a bit. Return to pointing the elbows pointing down and round the back, repeating the scooping motion many times: Slide the elbows forwards, out, and up, so your spine is like an elephant trunk. Pause, then turn the face to the left and put the left hand behind the head. The right ear faces the left thigh. Do the same scooping motion with the right ear facing down the whole time. The left elbow is out to the left. This is very important: Your spine is turned while simultaneously flexing and extending! Make easy, simple, gentle movements, rest, then switch the head to face the right and put the right hand behind the head. The left ear scoops along the right leg, out, and up. Make the scooping motion as best you can, without strain. If there are any twinges, do LESS, make it smaller. Rest, wiggle your spine in sitting, or better, get up and walk. How is it?
You'll be amazed at how flexible your spine feels!
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Lastly, combine these movements with this beautiful audio lesson:
Softening the back, 40 min