Seated Six Way Stretch
For a Healthy Spine
For many of us, our modern lifestyles often dictate that we are glued to a desk and/or our computers for excessive amounts of time.
Sitting for prolonged periods isn't great for the spine. It can cause increased stresses on the back muscles and spinal discs as well as the neck, arms and legs. It reduces blood and lymph flow and weakens muscles. It can cause discomfort and pain because our bodies aren't created to stay still.
The spine can move in 6 different directions.
Backward bend, forward bend, right twist, left twist, right side stretch, left side stretch,
Not only can it move in six directions:
It needs to move in all six directions everyday for optimum health.
If you've got a few minutes, why not give this short sequence a go which can help you to maintain healthy back care.
1. Backward Bend
2. Forward Bend
Sit upright, (feel the crown of your head is gently lifting up towards the sky and your sitting bones resting equally on the chair, you are not trying to compromise or straighten the natural curves of the spine). Sit a little away from the back of the chair, with the legs a comfortable distance apart, feet flat on the floor. Hands resting comfortably on knees. Take a few breaths in through the nose and out through the nose. You may even wish to close your eyes and notice how your body is feeling right now.
Tilt the tailbone back, lifting and curling the belly and chest forwards and upwards, feel as if the centre of your chest is gently lifting and opening up towards the sky. If it is safe and comfortable for you to do so, you can lift the head too. You may wish to explore widening the legs a bit here if it feels more comfortable.
You can take a few easy breaths in and out of the nostrils here, or you may wish to flow this posture with the next posture, the forward bend. Breathing in here: opening the chest lifting up. Breathing out bending forward.
Tilt the pubic bone forward, feel as if the tailbone is beginning to curl under. Feel your back beginning to round forward. Round the shoulders forwards as much as is comfortable. If it is safe and comfortable you can lower the head allowing it to hang, or even gently draw the nose towards the navel.
Again, you can take a few breaths here or if you want to flow this forward bending movement with the back bending movement, breathe out here, breathing in lifting up into the backward bend.
Repeat as many times as you want.
3. Right Twist & 4. Left Twist
Sitting upright, place your left hand onto your right knee or thigh. Keep the feet flat on the floor and knees parallel, gently ease your body around to the right. You can place your right hand wherever it is comfortable. This may be on your lap, the side of the chair or even the back of the chair. Take a few breaths in through the nose and out through the nose. You can take a few breaths here and then ease off or you may like to try breathing in as you lengthen up through the spine and breathing out as you gently twist. Continue to breathe in lengthening up through the body and out as you continue to twist 2-3 more times and then very gently ease yourself back to centre. Repeating this on the other side.
5. Right Side Stretch & 6. Left Side Stretch
Sit upright and keeping both knees parallel with both sitting bones equally pushing onto your chair. Arms hanging loosely at your sides, first gently lower the left arm towards the floor and then gently return to centre. Repeat on the other side. You can breathe naturally or if you wish you can breathe out as you bend and in as you straighten up.
Continue to flow the movement and breathe from side to side for a few rounds.
You may wish to explore other arm positions, these may intensify the stretch. See photos above and explanations below.
Bent elbow option
Keeping the left arm lowering to the floor, bend the right elbow and rest your right hand on your right shoulder. Lift the right elbow up towards the sky as you lean over to the left drawing the left hand down towards the ground.
Straight arm option
Keeping the left arm lowering to the floor, raise the right arm. Take the right arm over to the left as you lean left, drawing the left hand down towards the ground.
Make sure not to lean backwards or forward.
Notice the effects each movement has on your body.
Repeat this sequence regularly to feel the benefits.