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Is quite a lot of lumbar spine extension dangerous?I know flexion (especially weighted) could lead to a slipped disk problem but what about extension?

I use it a lot for (arched) handstands, side splits and (non optimal yet) bridges.

I am working on more thoracic/shoulder/hip flexor mobility using tools like the mastery series, but in the meanwhile i am using and playing around with what my body can currently do.

This short clip is a more concrete example of sth i feel uncertain about:

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Your fear of lumbar flexion is mis placed also. This silly idea that we should pursue neutral spine and avoid the spine moving at all costs has been passed around mostly by people without the ability to actually use their back in a good way.

Get your spine moving in all directions. Most problems I've seen occur with people who have no ability to move the entire spine. So re lumbar extension; not a bad thing on its own, but can be if the rest of the spine and hips don't exhibit similar capacity to move.

As a side note, I've also seen some people with one incredibly flexible joint in the spine, a tonne of stiff joints, and no injuries despite constantly bending at the one joint to 90 degrees of extension. Not ideal, but also not causing these people any problems.

Total capacity to move in every direction through every joint is what I would say is ideal:

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The spine has (overall, measured from the plane of the bite to the sacrum) over twice the capacity to extend as it does to flex (the opposite movement). I mention the plane of the bite, because the cervical spine has almost 90 degrees on its own, if the head's movement is included.

Anyhow, looking at your bridging, there is almost no movement in the 12 thoracic vertebrae, movement in which is shown in MH's video (though beautiful, really does no show the extension that G. is concerned about; MH's video is more about individual vertebral-level control). If you watch MH's own spine in the Master the back bend program, you will see excellent extension in the whole spine, and that's the goal.

G., your lats and shoulders are very tight. Rather than doing the floor bridge as your video shows, do the box bridge (elevated feet) that the Mastery video shows, and then use a partner to move the lumbar extension into the thoracic: you will experience a rib (intercostal), abdominal, psoas, and lat stretch of an order that, very likely, you have never felt before. I am suggesting this approach in preference to the floor bridge, because as your video shows, if you do not have the capacity to extend in the thoracic spine, only the lumbar spine extends. As well, for the same reason, you will need to work hard on the hip flexors, too: they are the reason everyone extends in the lumbar spine to begin with: the pelvis cannot tilt backwards on the legs.

You do need a partner to do the box bridge, though.

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Just watched the video (couldn't before, was on mobile). I'll echo kit's statements.

ANother approach you could use is to try dropping the spine back one vertebra at a time VERY SLOWLY, starting from the head. This means that you should see, in order, the following things bend:

The head should tilt upwards as the first of the cervical vertebrae begin to go into extension. You should feel a strong stretch in the tissue on the front of the neck as the rest of the cervical vertebrae go into extension. You should feel the rib cage stretch open one rib at a time from the top down next as each thoracic vertebra goes into extension. Up until now, the lumbar vertebrae are still straight, although you may have had to move your hips/knees forward to counter balance. Now start moving through each of the lumbar vertebrae. you should be able to see the ground somewhere behind you by this stage. Once all the lumbar are on extension , then you can tuck the tail heavily to bring the HF into extension and finish your movement. If you can't look at the ground yet without your hands, your goal is to simply go down and then reverse the movement to come back up, with your focus being on feeling each single vertebra move entirely before the next one starts.

If you can't go very low with this, then just go as far as you feel is safe. It doesn't matter, all of the important work is happening at the top when the thoracic movement is happening! I would prefer to see someone working through the thoracic region and not going down onto the hands rather than moving the thoracic region as a whole but going to their hands (although doing it this way won't get you many youtube views, it is substantially better for you :D)

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I wanted to try Craig's exercise. This is what i came up with. I dont think i followed the instructions well. I did not raise my arms, just in the end i put them up and touched the wall so my spine could be visible for the camera.

What i realise is that i cant bend my thoracic spine more. I feel like my esophagus or sth between the throat and the heart is going to break.

I am aware after watching Master the Backbend that hip flexors and box bridge are key exercises. However the partner i have available at the moment for stretching, is unlikely to be strong enough to lift me in the necessary manner for the box bridge. I will give it a try soon though to make sure.

Any thoughts?

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And one more pic after foam rolling the thoracic spine

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Craig - are you recommending doing this with arms down, or arms overhead? Overhead is obviously is much more of a strengthener - and prepares you for going over into a bridge - but in me gives a rigidity of the upper spine which means that I dont get so much of the progressive bending that is the aim of the exercise.

Jim.

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Geo: my guess is that you're feeling some pretty tight fascia in and around the ribs. Along with doing the exercises from master the back bend and any others you are doing, I would look at getting some soft tissue therapy on the ribs. Kit does a fantastic job if you are seeing him at any of his workshops you should hit him up. :D

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Craig - thanks for your reply. Until your posting, I used to go into a backbend starting with arms overhead, in the hope that the extra weight would help give maximal extension of the upper back. But I have found that by starting with arms down, I can get more of a bend in the upper back in the early phase of the bend - then I put the arms overhead. Many thanks for your helpful input.

I am also trying to address the issue: when I am supporting my body weight on my arms in an upside-down backbend (handstand backbend against a wall, or yoga scorpion in an unsupported forearm stand) I find it difficult to get much bend in the upper back, which has gone rigid to support my weight. So working on its flexibility in an entirely unweighted way and with the arms down, may set a pattern which will (I hope) carry over to the inverted situation.

Thanks, Jim.

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