There are actually only six different movements of the spine that we can employ, besides the normal flat spine that is our starting point for the other movements. We maintain the maximum flexibility and health of our spine by regularly engaging in moving it all of these directions. The six movements are:
- Forward bends
- Back bends
- Lateral bends to the right
- Lateral bends to the left
- Twists to the right
- Twists to the left
Of these six movements, most of us tend to primarily focus only on one—bending forward—during our day-to-day activities. This means that we aren’t regularly allowing our spine to engage in its full range of motion.
One way to keep your spine flexible and healthy and to engage in brief stretching during the day is to take a moment to engage in all six movements in a deliberate way. This can even be done from your desk chair at work.
- Starting with an extended, flat spine while sitting in your chair, bend forward to let your spine round forward as you reach toward the floor in front of you. Return to sitting tall.
- Sitting on the front edge of your chair, place your hands on the back of the seat and do a small back bend. Be sure to protect your neck by keeping in alignment with your spine and not letting your head drop backwards. Return to sitting tall.
- Place your right hand on the chair seat next to your hips. Raise your left arm in the air, and keeping both hips firmly on the chair, curve your spine to the right, bringing your left arm over your head toward your right side. Return to sitting tall with both arms by your side.
- Place your left hand on the chair seat next to your hips. Raise your right arm in the air, and keeping both hips firmly on the chair, curve your spine to the left, bringing your right arm over your head toward your left side. Return to sitting tall with both arms by your side.
- Keeping your hips facing forward, twist to the right, placing your right hand on the right armrest and pressing into it to enhance your twist. Return to sitting tall, facing forward.
- Keeping your hips facing forward, twist to the left, placing your left hand on the left armrest and pressing into it to enhance your twist. Return to sitting tall, facing forward.
These six movements can be done rather quickly and with no special equipment any time of the day to give yourself a quick break from the computer screen, while giving your spine a quick workout at the same time.