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Segmental flexion and extension of the spine is essentially a very slow and controlled CAT COW exercise.
The goal is to promote movement in each individual joint of the spine.
✔️ On your hands and knees (quadruped position) – you will notice my toes are tucked under, if this is uncomfortable you can place your feet flat on the ground.
✔️Spine is in a neutral position.
1️⃣ While on your hands and knees you will START AT YOUR TAILBONE and work to ‘tuck your tail between your legs’ which will begin flexing or rounding your low back.
Slowly try to move the segments of the spine up to the sky until you get to your neck. You are now finished in a rounded position and looking under yourself.
This is HALF of the movement and puts your spinal joints into flexion.
2️⃣ To finish the FULL movement of CAT COW you will now move your joints into extension. Keeping all the joints in flexion, you start by reaching your tailbone to the sky. “stair step” the rest of the way up your spine until you are looking up as high as you can
This completes one full rep.
❗️You want to make sure this movement is done pain free. If there is an area that is causing discomfort, only flex/extend the area in a range where you remain pain free.
Repeat the entire movement again for 2 full reps. Doing this at least once a day will build the awareness of your spinal joints as well as strengthen them
Neck pain, shoulder pain, and upper back pain are very common complaints especially if we are sitting for long durations. Like all pain, this is multifactorial. The way our shoulder blade moves is a key factor in this presentation.
The idea with this exercise is to introduce movements that include the scapula (shoulder blade), shoulder, and thoracic spine (upper to mid back). Repetition of correct movement will help increase the control you have with your shoulder blade movement and subsequently reduce stress on the shoulders and neck.
Start slow and with small ranges. Find a position that is comfortable with no pain in your shoulders or neck.
Begin with 2-5 lift offs, holding each for 2-3 seconds. Then progress to 2-5 rotations.
• Begin lying on your stomach. (NOTE: If you experience neck pain you can place a towel or small pillow under your forehead. If lying on your stomach creates low back pain you can place pillow under your hips/waist – this will help to ensure you are able to keep your core engaged to prevent arching in your low back)
• Once in a comfortable position, place your hands at your side and set your shoulder blades. To do this you want to think of bringing your shoulder blades down toward your pelvis. A tip is try to squeeze your armpits.
• After setting your shoulder blades, lift the arms and hold (as shown in the video) then lower. Before performing the next rep be sure to breath and set your shoulder blades again.
As we continue to work from home, our at home office may not be the most ideal set-up for comfort. This video series continues to provide some ways you can decrease tension in your neck as well as ways to help strengthen the muscles. You will need a ball similar to a lacrosse ball or yoga tune-up ball as well as something hard such as a metal water bottle or soup can.