Introducing the Phil and John Show: Thoracic Mobility
Today’s guest writer:
Philip Richardi is a personal trainer on route to becoming a physical therapist. Having been a physical therapy aide for several years, Phil has developed a repertoire of exercises to help better joint mobility and range of motion. Phil is part of The Phil and John Show, a personal training show launching this week. Website is on the way!
Spine Mobility Part 1 with the Phil and John Show
A lot of us know that maintaining a mobile spine is important. How then does one go about doing this?
Do you hold stretches? Well, research shows that static stretching might not be the best way to go about this. This is where the cat/camel exercise comes into play. The cat camel is a safe exercise that produces low amount of compression on the spine compared to common stretches and it takes the spine through a full range of flexion and extension which are important for spine health.
Editor’s note: This exercise is referred to as the “cat and cow” in yoga
Cat and Camel
With this exercise you are going to flex your spine (meaning your Lumbar, Thoracic, and Cervical spine) all go into a flexed position followed by the opposite in which they all go into an extension. While doing this exercise I want you to imagine this;
- First find you heart center, this should be at the center of the sternum right between both pecs.
- Imagine that there is a string attached here and it is pulling from your chest through your back and up towards the ceiling. While performing the camel portion of this move the string is being lifted and the back rounds like that of a camel. The upper back is the apex while the crown of the head and the sacrum are the low points. Then I want you to reverse this.
- Now extend the back (ie; arch the back by sticking the butt and head up in the air while letting the heart center drop). Now the heart center is the low point and the head and the butt are the apex.
Follow through this cycle up to 10 times nice and slowly taking at least 5 seconds to get through each position. As you get the hang of it try to match your breath by exhaling during the camel and inhaling during the cat.
Key Points and Mistake Prevention
Make sure not to ‘sag’ into the shoulders. It is common when performing the cat portion that people sag into their shoulders, make sure that you are still actively pushing the floor away and maintaining a solid connection between ground, hand, elbow, and shoulder.
Make sure that the bony point of your elbow does not point out to the side. Try to ‘screw’ your elbows in by ensuring that the points of the elbows are facing towards the feet.
Make sure not to push to the extreme ranges. One should stop a degree or two before full ‘lockout’.