We talk about how our sitting posture affects our bodies all the time… but what about our stretching posture?
What’s Going on in Your Body
During postures where we hinge at the hip (think any variation of an inverted ‘V’ or forward fold), it can be tempting to let the spine round, especially when our hamstrings are tight. While a slightly rounded spine does create a stretch in our low back, a neutral spine is the safest and most effective posture in hinging positions. Here’s why.
Provides room to breathe
Maintaining a neutral spine (despite the tempting pull of tight hamstrings!) is an excellent way to strengthen the chest muscles and allow your ribs space to properly expand for nice deep breathing. Keeping your spine straight, and in turn, keeping your breathing deep is so essential while bending, especially when we’re in positions that challenge us!
Our spines are so precious, keeping them safe while we move is always a top priority. The spine has four sections, creating a gentle ‘S’ curve. When we round our spines in a forward fold, we run the risk of creating too much pressure in one of these sections, potentially causing damage on specific vertebrae. But, when we maintain a straight spine, the pressure of the bend is spread nice and evenly throughout all four sections. Hamstrings, baby When we straighten our backs, our hamstrings begin to extend and stretch. We’re asking our bodies to stretch a little bit further, therefore increasing our mobility a few extra degrees. Tip: Listen to your body. You may be surprised by how much more stretch is felt when you slightly adjust your posture! Discomfort is OK but if you’re experiencing pain, slowly and carefully get out of the position.
Helpful Posture Cues
If you’ve taken a class with me, you’ve probably heard me say: “pull your tailbone to the sky and push your chest forward!” This is one of my favourite cues for keeping the spine straight. Another great mental image to create length in your back is to imagine a string running from the base of your tailbone to the top of your head. Now, as you fold, imagine that the string is being gently pulled out of the top of your head!