Lying Low: A Daily Exercise To Protect Your Back

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Most people hold a huge amount of residual tension in their back muscles. As a result, some will feel pain and discomfort, while the vast majority won’t even realise it is there. Even if you don’t notice it, the impact will be causing you wear and tear, along with fatigue. The only way to really rest your back is to stop supporting your weight for a bit, i.e. to lie down.

Providing you can make yourself comfortable and that you’re not heavily pregnant, lying semi-supine is a very useful daily exercise.

Whether you are young or old, healthy or unhealthy, busy or restless, your back supports you in all your activities and will appreciate the chance to recover. You can experiment with the time of day when resting it feels most beneficial – either first thing in the morning, part way through the day, or last thing at night.

When you lie down, it takes only 10 minutes for your discs to recover their optimum shape and for the vertebral muscles to relax. You are welcome to stay there for longer, but be aware that this exercise only needs to take 10 minutes of your time.

Taking The Position

Lie down on a firm surface (a thickly carpeted floor is good – the lawn will work if it’s nice and sunny!), then bend your knees upwards and towards you while keeping your feet on the ground, pulling them as close to your body as is comfortable.

Your feet should be far enough apart – about shoulder width – for the legs to balance with minimum effort, your knees neither falling apart, nor pulling together.

Support your head on something which is comfortable, but not too soft, while avoiding contact with your neck. The ideal height will vary from person to person depending on several factors, such as the length of their neck or the shape of their head.

If your head is too high, your chin will press into your throat, and if your head is too low, it will tilt backwards – hindering muscular release in your back. The optimum height for you will be somewhere in between these two extremes. Alexander Technique teachers tend to use a pile of thin paperback books which can be easily adjusted, to find the perfect height.

Next, let your arms rest on the floor with the palms of your hands on your midriff, or by your sides.

Keeping In Shape

What to do while you’re in this position? You can chat, listen to music, meditate, let the cat or dog snuggle up close, make plans for the rest of you day, or sunbathe.

Reading a book or watching TV isn’t ideal, as these activities will cause some stiffening of the sub-occipital muscles, which therefore makes them counter-productive.

You could also try focusing on your breathing, and letting every bit of yourself become heavy and relaxed, starting from the tips of your toes and working up to the top of your head.

Alexander Technique teachers use this semi-supine position to show people how to improve their neuro-muscular coordination. If you’ve had AT lessons before, you can go ahead and use the opportunity to practice your direction and inhibition.

Lying in the semi-supine position is one of the best things you can do to look after yourself and your back, so I always recommend that clients add it to their list of important things to do for healthy living, along with eating good food, exercising, socialising with friends, keeping in touch with family, and many other of life’s simple pleasures!

Written by Jennifer Davy

This article was featured in the latest edition of Quay Magazine! Use this link to download your FREE copy:

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