The Importance of Spinal Mobilization
Have you ever given any thought to how much your spine does for your body? Unless you deal with chronic back pain, you may take your spine for granted.
But beyond protecting your spinal cord, the spine is also responsible for proper respiration. And when you get right down to it, it’s what allows your body to move. Nearly every function of your body is directly affected by the health of your spine.
So the importance of spinal mobilization cannot be underestimated.
The Importance of Spinal Mobilization
The spine is one of the most complicated structures in the body. It’s a finely crafted structure of vertebrae, discs, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and nerves. To perform at its optimum level of health and function, the delicate balance of all of these must be maintained.
But that’s not always easy. Especially given sedentary lifestyles driven by the use of tech and other devices that cause us to slouch and strain the spine.
Once any part of the spine’s structure is thrown out of balance, you could be living with pain. And although some pain that doesn’t present in the back may seem unrelated to spinal function, there’s a good chance there’s a connection.
This is why spinal mobilization is so important.
For the spine to work at its optimal health, there must be a focus on proper posture and the natural construction of the spinal curves. In addition, the abdominal, core, spinal, and gluteus muscles must be continually and safely strengthened. Good balance and flexibility with spinal rotation and side-bending are also key.
How Pilates Helps
Pilates is a mind body system of exercise with a strong focus on developing and maintaining a stable core. The core muscles include those of the abdomen, pelvic floor, lower back, and a few others. These are collectively referred to as the “powerhouse” in Pilates. All movement in this system originates from the core.
There is also an emphasis on the spine and its complicated construction. Pilates improves spinal mobilization by treating each vertebra as an individual bone. And exercises in Pilates encourage the firing of the muscles that support the spine.
Practitioners are taught the importance of neutral spine. This refers to the natural curvature to your spine. The top curve is your cervical spine and consists of the vertebrae in your neck. The thoracic spine is the upper portion of your spine where it connects with the ribs. The curve of your lower back (and the most mobile) is your lumbar spine. And finally there is the sacrum/pelvis which serves as an extension of the spine.
Each of us has a normal range for these curves. When the core is engaged and firing, it allows for the spine to be in its most neutral position. As such, Pilates teaches that the core should always be engaged in any movement.
From there, movements emphasize the importance of sequencing the vertebrae in such a way that they are always in proper alignment. By focusing on this, the exercises also improve the stability of the back and abdominal muscles to prevent joint stiffness and muscle tightness. As spinal mobilization increases, there is less pressure on the joints, a reduction in inflammation, and improved nerve function.
Keep On Moving
As we mentioned above, the lumbar spine (lower back) has the most natural mobility. The thoracic spine, on the other hand, has the least – as it is restricted by its connection to the ribs. When mobility issues strike this area, it also affects movement in the cervical spine as well as the lumbar spine. And this makes moving through life a lot more challenging!
While any kind of pain may make us feel like being still, it’s important to keep moving in order to increase thoracic spinal mobility.
So focusing on safe and reasonable movement in this part of the spine is of utmost importance for the overall health of your spine. By maintaining thoracic spinal mobility, you will experience a better range of motion in the upper body and more stability of the lumbar spine.
In addition, you’ll feel less pain, reverse kyphosis (over curvature of the spine), and may even improve lung capacity.
How Is Your Spinal Mobility?
Now that you have a deeper understanding of the importance of spinal mobilization, you may be inspired to try Pilates for yourself.
We’d love to see you. So contact us today to find out more about our class offerings with our highly trained instructors and physical therapists.
Keeping your spine at its optimal health will have lasting benefits.