The illustrious back bend. We either jump with joy or cringe when the teacher announces backbends are class plan. For those of us who are blessed with flexibility they can be relatively easy, enjoyable even. For those of us who are not as blessed in that regard, they can be painful, fearful, even emotional.
We’ve all seen photos like these:
And we think to ourselves, "Where is their spine? I would break my back if I tried that." Most of us will never be able to backbend like that, so for the rest of us there are many tools that can be helpful in making backbends, such as wheel, more accessible and pain free.
Lets start with the mechanics of back bends. Turns out backbends do not happen only in our backs. Its a common misconception that in order to backbend more deeply you need to bend your back more. However, that is only one small piece of the puzzle. Safe back bending occurs when: the shoulders are mobile enough overhead, the upper back (the thoracic spine) contributes to the back bend, the hips are mobile enough to allow for back bending without direct compression in the low back (lumbar spine), when the core is strong and engaged, and when we have a firm grounding in our hands and feet.
Back bends challenge the position we find ourselves in the majority of our days: hunching over the sink washing dishes, sitting at our desks typing furiously, sitting in the car, preparing food, and soon. All of these things contribute to tightness in our chest and shoulders, shortening of the hip flexors and rounding of the back. Countering all of these things, all of the time we spend rounded, is physically and internally challenging.
Join us in putting the puzzle pieces together for your backbends.
Amy & Keri