MINDFUL MOVEMENT TIPS from Sara Baker, PT, MS, OCS
MOVEMENT: Is sitting in your car for hours morning and evening turning your spine into an aching mess? Use these simple exercises to keep your spine mobile and muscles active. Caution: do these only when traffic has stopped and you can put your car in park- we don’t need any additional accidents to clog the roads further!
The breath is where your mind, body and spirit meet so you can imagine your breath patterns in your commute might change. Each breath you take loads the spine and requires some small movements of the spine – if you are breathing with a shallow breath that begins in your upper chest and neck vs a healthy diaphragmatic breath that starts in your lower ribs and belly you will be causing stress to your spine and not getting good gas exchange. As shown in the picture put one hand on your breast bone, other hand on your belly button. Start your breath in by expanding your belly and the sides and back of your rib cage, exhale and feel your belly compress slightly and your ribs draw in and down slightly. Breath in and out through your nose. If you feel your breast bone starting the breath in, use your mind to change where you move to draw air into your lungs- quiet the neck and shoulders, expand the belly.
Sit directly on your sit bones, slight backward curve in your low back, rib cage directly over your pelvis, head directly over center of ribcage, eyes looking at the road ahead, hands places on the roof of your car slightly in front of you. Image the spine growing taller toward the roof of the car as you exhale and gently press your hands into the roof to feel your abs turn on and waistline pull in gently. Inhale release. Repeat 8-10 times.
TWISTED TRAFFIC SPINAL ROTATION:
Sit with head, rib cage and pelvis stacked up and a slight backward curve in low back. Place left palm on the right side of the steering wheel, gently press left hand into the steering wheel as you rotate your chest to the right. Feeling your abs working to rotate your torso. Keep breath owing, don’t hold your breath. Repeat 3-5 times, Reverse hand and direction of rotation, 3-5 repetitions.
SPINE “BUILD ME A NEW BRIDGE” EXTENSION:
Scoot forward in your sit slightly so you are not resting you upper back into the seat. Sit with head, ribcage and pelvis stacked up and a slight backward curve in low back. Place both palms on the top of your steering wheel. Gently press down into the steering wheel as you as you lift your breast bone, then your throat, then your nose to create a gentle backward bend through your upper back and neck. Imagine the neck growing longer as you extend. Return to vertical by reversing the motion, nod the head, lower your throat, lower the breastbone. Keep breathing throughout. Repeat 3-5 times.
MERMAID IN SEA OF TRAFFIC:
Sit with head, rib cage and pelvis stacked up and a slight backward curve in low back. Raise right arm in an arc overhead. Grow taller through your spine as you lift up and over an imaginary fence at your waist to create a side bend in the spine. Return to upright by feeling one segment of your spine stacking up on top of the other. Repeat to other side. 3-5 reps each side.