Your spine is made up of small bones, called vertebrae, which are stacked on top of one another and create the natural curves of your back....
The cervical spine is made up of seven small vertebrae that begin at the base of the skull and end at the upper chest. The thoracic spine is made up of 12 vertebrae that start from the upper chest to the middle back and connect to the ribcage. The lumbar vertebra consists of five larger vertebrae. These vertebrae are larger because they carry more of your body's weight.
To create a more mobile and healthy spine, we need to be able to move in a variety of different directions.
We need to flex (bending forwards), lateral flexion (side bending), extend (bending backwards), and rotate (twisting) to accomplish daily tasks and activities. (You may notice we cover all these movements in classes!)
The spine, for Joseph Pilates, was the key to physical and emotional well being. Neutral spine alignment is everything. “If your spine is stiff at 30,” he once said, “you are old. If it is flexible at 60, you are young.”
Flexion is very common in every day life. Gravity and daily activities such as sitting at the computer, driving, and carrying children have a tendency to pull the spine forward into flexion (rounding).
Extension may be one of the most important types of movements we do today, due to excessive amounts of flexion in our days.
It is important to keep the upper back muscles strong and the spine moving into extension as much as we can.
Decreased thoracic (mid spine) mobility decreases the range of shoulder movements particularly elevation (lifting overhead) by changing the position of the shoulder blade on the ribcage.
Here is a simple test for you to do..... sit slouched forwards and lift your arms up, NOW.... find your sit bones lengthen your spine upwards and try and lift your arms up now.
If you notice a difference in how far your arms lift behind your ears from one position to the next, then chances are your thoracic mobility needs improving.!!
Back extension is one of the most needed motions of the spine to improve posture and to keep balance within the body. Unfortunately, it’s also one we don't get enough of throughout the day.
If good health, less stress, and pain in the joints, good posture, and balanced strength and flexibility is a goal of yours, back extension is a must.
Try these back extension exercises iv recorded for you by clicking the link below.