Two Minutes to a Healthy Back: Bridge Pose

I’m sure you’ve heard that Sitting Is The New Smoking.

It’s estimated that 31 million Americans suffer from back pain, tightness, or aggravation at any given time.

And it’s true that many of us sit for too long and don’t use our back muscles enough to provide healthy support for our spines.

Another group of people workout quite a lot but don’t effectively stretch the muscles of the thighs, hips, and core in order to not feel stiff and achy throughout the day.

The rest of us may fall somewhere in the middle, experiencing both issues — tight muscles from exercise combined with inactivity from a desk job.

There are several simple ways to stretch tight muscles and reduce daily aches and pains while strengthening muscles that support a healthy back & core.

Here are 3 amazingly simple ways Bridge Pose can help you focus on developing a healthy back:

1 — Breath Work
Breathing is the foundation for all yoga postures. It serves as a guide for moving in and out of the pose, for understanding how deep to take each posture, and in the case of Bridge Pose — supporting a healthy back — it serves as a wake up call to the diaphragm.

“The diaphragm is a dome-shaped muscle that separates the thorax from the abdomen. It plays a major role in breathing and is terribly under-used in today’s society. Not only are we shallow chest breathers due to all the stress we face but most of use are hunched over computers, desks, and other devices that literally create a constricted breathing pattern in our bodies.”

Bridge Pose opens up the front side of the body allowing a full deep breath to flow into the deepest part of the lungs, requiring the diaphragm to contract. By engaging the diaphragm when breathing you also strengthen it and this is good news for the health of your back.

=> => Studies have found that a strong, active diaphragm plays a crucial role in supporting the musculature of the back — reducing pain, aggravation, and aches.

Low back instability is a major cause of back pain. Stability of the back is important to prevent and treat lower back injuries. This method of deep breathing during Bridge may be used to reduce back pain and improve respiration as well as trunk stability.

2 — Activation of Key Muscles
The posterior chain — all the muscles that run up the back of the body including muscles of the feet, calves, hamstrings, glutes, and spine — is critical to your ability to move. Everything from jumping, walking, running, pushing, pulling and even standing up and sitting down requires healthy activation of the posterior chain.

Bridge Pose activates all of these muscles, awakening their ability to improve mobility, create stability and reduce acute and chronic lower back pain syndromes

3 — Stretching the Front of the Body
Opening the front side of the body allows for length in the muscles and spine that are too often and for too long crunched and hunched over at a desk all day. By lengthening the anterior chain muscles — quads, hip flexors, abdominals, chest, and neck you create much needed space and length in the spinal column. In addition, you’ll help improve your posture, which is a known contributor to back pain.

How to Get a Healthy Back in Two Minutes:

  • Begin lying on your back with knees bent, feet hip-width apart and set close to the hips so that middle fingers can just barely graze the heels.  (If your knees don’t like this, set feet a little further from hips)
  • With arms by sides, palms down begin belly breathing. Allow belly to distend with the inhale filling even into the lower back. Fully exhale. Repeat 2 more times.
  • Continue belly breaths as you begin to lift hips off the floor. Press into heels firing the hamstrings and glutes. Keep knees aligned (neither caving in nor splaying out). Tilt pelvis to curl tailbone toward the knees (think lengthening the low back).
  • With each inhale, fill the belly and lengthen the front side open: chest lifts toward chin.
  • With each exhale, squeeze the abdominals and stay lifted as you reactivate the muscles of the posterior chain.
  • Try lifting into bridge and holding for 3 long breaths. Then transition into active bridge moving with breath for 5 repetitions. Inhale and lift up; Exhale and lower down.
  • Repeat this pattern for up to two minutes.
Taking care of your spinal health can be as simple as ONE yoga pose a day combined with deep mindful breathing. Two minutes from now you could be pain free!