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Spinal Gaping (decompressing the vertebrae and alleviating pinched nerves)

(Episode Transcribed Directly from Video)

Hey guys, coach Mike here at MROC, the Mud Run Obstacle Course training center with the 7th edition of our MOB of the week series. 
So, last week we talked to you about flexion gapping and how to create space around the joint capsules in the knee and the elbow. So, continuing with that theme, we're going to talk to you today about how to create space in your back and joint space between the vertebra. What tends to happen over time when we're running and jumping and lifting heavy objects and compressing our body down, is our vertebrae gets really tightly compressed down upon each other, so we lose that mobility of the discs in our back which should be very well hydrated and fluid and supple and passed in space, right, and that's where we start to get into, you know, the discs being compressed and nerves being pinched or discs bulging, herniating. So, we want to avoid that, we want to keep a supple and healthy back. So, today I'm going to describe to you what I call spinal gap, right, just again, keeping with the theme of what we talked about last week and I will say that I first learned this technique from Michael Woodward at Natural Solutions Acupuncture right here in Oceanside, so shout out to you Mike, always taking good care of me and keeping our athletes healthy, this is my version of what you taught me years ago.

So, what we're gonna do is we're going to take this foam roller, position it behind our back and start rolling it out. So, as you can see I've positioned the foam roller in my lumbar area right above the waist from the smaller back, what I'm going to do is attempt to lay back and down so that my head and shoulders can touch the floor. Now, not everyone will be able to do this - full disclaimer - if you have serious mode back pain or injuries [to get to] injuries or you're maybe quite a bit overweight or immobile this might not be a good position for you to get in but if you're relatively fit and capable of being on the ground, this should be okay. So, we're going to start here and our goal is to sink into the roller and allow our body to melt down over top of it just like any other time we’re foam rolling. Protecting your spine and remembering the rules of mobility; if it feels sketchy, it is sketchy. So, you shouldn’t have any shooting pain down your leg or sharp pains in your back maybe just some achiness or some awkwardness that's fine. Now, what we want to do is keeping the feet firmly planted and the knees up and take a deep breath in through the nose and then deep breath out through the mouth, hand movements are optional. And we'll do that three times then after the third breath sequence, you're going to step out and walk the roller up, you know, 2 – 4 inches and then again try to melt down over the foam roller, take three deep breaths all the way in and all the way out and with each breath trying to sink deeper over the roller. After three breaths. we step and roll and we're going to keep going until we're right into the end of the thoracic spine, so that roller you want to stay below the shoulder blades and really have it near the upper ribs and that's about as far as you want to go, we're not getting any higher up on the back. Three breaths and what we're doing is as we're walking closer, we're eventually trying to get to the point where you can sit your butt and your shoulder blade and the back of your head are on the ground at the same time. 

So, again, going back to our rules of mobility test-retest. So, when you first sit down on this foam roller and you're stuck and your back is so stiff that you can't get that level of extension that you're looking for, well, how do we fix that? We’ll roll it out and then see if we have more range of motion after we apply the mobility technique. So, back to where we were, we're in the upper range, we're starting low, we're working our way up high, this is probably going to take you a series of anywhere from three to five rolls depending on the thickness, the diameter of your tool and depending on the length of your spine, depending on how tall your torso is. so, for me really, I'm short guy so it takes about three times on a typical 6-inch roller to go from the base of my lumbar spine up to where you see me at now, three times up. Now, what I want to do is I want to work my way back down and this is where we add a modification, so we change it up a little bit. Now, if that was hard enough for you and just miserable, you might not want to add this modification yet but if that's not okay, you want to take it the next level, this is where we start to open up the hips a little bit. So, I've worked all my way up, I've taken my three breaths, I wanna work my way back down, I'm going to let this hip fall all the way out to the sides- one leg stays planted, one leg will drop - I'm going to take three deep breaths in, all the way in through the nose, all the way out. After three breaths, I'm going to keep the foam roller where it is, one leg comes up and the other leg comes down, three full breaths and back up. And then instead of rolling up I have nowhere to go, I'm going to roll down and I'm going to sink a little deeper. Open the hips, three breaths - obviously I'm exaggerating the speed of this - I'm going to drop the other hip for three breaths and I'm going to move up another 3-4 inches. And as you can see, and I haven't even done the full sequence yet, I'm already gaining so much more mobility than when I started and allowing myself to start to be able to fold and fall over the foam roller and I probably have a big vein sticking out of top of my head from being upside down. 

But that is a really great way to create space between the vertebra and decompress some joints and relieve some potential nerve pain or irritation that you're having with maybe some low back pain or injuries - I call it spinal gapping, I’m sure Michael calls it something else – but try it, see how it works for you and keep yourself supple. We’ll be at you next week with the eighth episode of MOB of the Week. 

Thanks so much.


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