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Craig's Spinal Waves Tutorial


Craig

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<p><p>Trailer is blank between 0:47 and 1:09, then following with last bits of the other trailer.

Anyway, clearly filmed, very good commentary, and I like this approach where voice is recorded separately. Very good work IMHO.

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Thank you, great explanations, really easy to follow to understand, ...

Just some questions for everybodies using "Spinal wave", do you use this awarness tools as prep exercice for spine (by example before pike or bridge exercice) or in an other way (by example going to movement, rolling, crawling, ...) ?

Thank you

Matt.

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It can be used in this way I think, however it really shines as an exercise in its own right rather than some supplementary exercise that helps with other things.

piotro: thanks for that, it was meant to end where it did, but for some reason the render tacked a whole bunch of black on the end. I'll fix it up tomorrow.

Craig

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Have downloaded - looks interesting. Could you talk a bit about what this practice is meant to cultivate in particular? Flexibility of the spine? Or movement of energy in the spine?

You note that you do five undulations on each node for demonstration purposes, but recommend spending "much longer on each node when practicing." 10x? 20X?

Thanks! :)

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Hi Jay,

My recommendation is: as much time as you can put into it! I have done the segment shown in the video for up to an hour before, and it feels great. I'd be really interested to see the results if someone put 2 or 3 hours into it, although not many of us have the time!

As far as what this is doing...as mentioned in the video, the point is to be able to be more aware of the sensations of the spine, and have more detailed control. ideally, a well practised person can articulate each vertebra both in isolation and as a part of the whole wave in all 3 planes. This will most definitely result in more flexibility of the spine (especially if you make the undulations and the wave really large!), as well as build strength in all of the muscles that wrap the spine, and basically most of the torso. To put this in perspective: I did no specific spinal stretches besides waves like this during my martial arts practise, but I have a more flexible spine than most, and definitely a more even distribution of load across the spine during bends, as every vertebra is involved rather than it hinging at one or two. One thing I will mention is that the attention is critical - the results will be greatly diminished if you are doing this with a wandering mind, thinking about dinner or watching a movie or something else. Pour all of your effort into feeling that particular spot and its movements as clearly and precisely as you can.

Some interesting things start to happen when you gain a full awareness of the spinal column. As far as health goes, "you're as old as your spine" is a really great phrase to live by, and this exercise will keep the spine supply and young :) The cycling of awareness up the spine (as with the wave) I feel is also central to other practises such as the small circulation/microcosmic orbit in Daoism (Ren & Du Meridians, aka governing and conception), and in fact I think is actually what these practises are doing in a lot of cases.

There is more value to this than what most people see on the surface. Simon has written a great article here: http://ancestralmovement.com/bodymaps-spinal-awareness-and-interoception , but in all honesty, the theoretical understanding is only going to get you so far. I have done many hundreds/thousands of hours of practises like this, so I can simply feel the benefits in my own body, and words don't really do it justice! As such, my recommendation is to do 10 - 20 minutes a day (doesn't have to be the whole set, in fact it might be better to do one plane per day and cycle through them every three days) and then every now and then do a bigger session like an hour or so non stop. Practising like this should be exponential in that the noticable results will be small at first but very quickly cascade to something quite enormous.

In my opinion, it's more valuable to have a fully articulating, undulating spine than it is to be able to do chin ups or handstands or even squats.

Let me know how you go!

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Hi Craig,

Thanks so much for the detailed reply; it puts the practice in a new perspective and I am excited to work with it. Will definitely let you know how it goes!

Also, your point on attention while practicing is well noted. I think too many people don't realize the body needs the mind working together with it to effect physical change, and that won't happen if you've tuned the mind out with headphones or a movie at the same time.

Just one more quick question. I, like many people, have less than ideal thoracic spine mobility. Can this help to develop mobility in the thoracic area, or do you feel you need to do some other stretch as a precursor to starting this practice?

Thanks again!

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So principles of neuroplasticity say a couple of things, the relevant items below:

- If you can't move/feel a particular joint, this is due to atrophied motor and sensory maps in the brain. When a map atrophied, it kind of "joins" multiple joints together. Think of your toes, any attempt to move individual toes at this point in time would probably result in ALL of your toes moving, or the whole foot moving if the maps are really degraded. I like to think of it like an image on a computer with resolution, if the brain only has 2 pixels for the foot, then it cant differentiate the toes; all it sees is a big blob. if it's got 1,000,000 pixels for the foot, then the toes will definitely be very clearly differentiated.

- By attempting to feel a particular joint, the sensory map will begin to regain detail, even if in the beginning you can't actually do the movement yet. The attempt is extremely important. The wiggle your big toe scene in Kill Bill is surprisingly accurate :)

- It's impossible to move something consciously that you can't feel consciously, but just feeling the joint is not enough, otherwise we could just use massage to gain full motor control of the spine.

- By attempting to feel & move a particular joint, both the sensory and motor maps will begin to regain detail.

- There are three main contributors that are known to speed up this process: attention (and the quality of attention); emotional engagement (and the intensity of the emotion) and repetition. Each one of these on their own will eventually make the process work, but this can be a long road (so repetition with no attention can work). Using all 3 together can DRASTICALLY speed up results. So, highly recommended to use precise attention, lots and lots of repetition and be engaged strongly emotionally. That being said...

- We also know that neurons that fire together wire together, so whichever emotion you choose to supercharge your practise will be hard wired into the particular movement. So while agony, anger etc *can* (and very often do in the case of both physical and emotional/mental trauma) rapidly change the maps, it will also mean that every time you do that movement, that particular emotion will be triggered. In other words, use positive emotions, or you're gunna have a bad time whenever you move your spine. I like to use "joyful curiousity".

So, the TL;DR of all of that is: Yes, you can drastically improve your thoracic mobility using these techniques. In fact, I have not actually seen any other methods that directly address each individual vertebra. Using the landmarks is useful to narrow the piece of the spine you are working on. In the video, I think I showed tip of the tailbone, opposite the naval, base of ribcage/sternum, base of neck/top of rib cage, and the final vertebra in the neck. After this, you can break it down easily by using halfway points (eg, half way between base of rib cage and top of rib cage, that will get you right in the center of the thoracic spine), then the half way points between the half way points, and so on until you are operating on the individual vertebra level.

I would also recommend using a mirror every now and again, to see how far the particular joint is actually traveling, or if it's actually moving like it feels. From this point, you can attempt to move it incrementally further than previous practises if you specifically want to improve flexibility.

I would use it in parallel with other full spine mobilizing methods, but just remember, the thoracic spine does more than just forward and backwards movements! The ideal is a spine that can move, undulate and wave in 3 dimensional space with strength and accuracy, like a snake. I'll post a great video of a lady demonstrating this later :)

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Craig,

Awesome response with regard to neuroplasticity and its role in spinal mobility; couldn't agree more. Would like to pick your brain however on one related point. "Atrophied map" aside, are there also issues of rigid and immobile connective tissues, fascia, and the like with regard to spinal joints, that might also require say foam rolling in addition to get them back to a place of mobility? Or will practicing spinal waves bring about renewed elasticity of those parts, assuming one did it with the focus and intention as you outlined? Just curious for your thoughts on that.

Will look forward to seeing the video of that lady.

Your other tips will also be very helpful in getting the most out of the program.

Thanks again!

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The rigid and immobile tissues are closely related to the maps in my experience, protection laid down by the nervous system over time to stiffen a structure they the system gets told doesn't need to move, or to protect an area the system is not sure of its capacity to endure load. (This is simply to relate the ideas theoretically!)

Practically, I have used spinal waves like these to gain tremendous spinal flexibility and mobility. The first time I tried a bridge I was able to do a decent one (and in fact the limitation was in the hips and shoulders, never the spine). Same with side bend and rotations, always been very flexible in these areas without stretching them. I can do carousels without warmup. All of this I attribute to spinal waves from my martial practises! Granted, that was developed over a decade. My feeling is that spinal waves should be the main practise of the spine, and rolling/stretching/whatever used as supplemental to speed up the process and target specific tight spots.

Video as promised:

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Oh I'll just add: my own standards are that I'd much rather the full articulation of every vertebra shown in the video above as opposed to contortionist flexibility. This is the quality im looking for in my own practise, and I personally think it's a better example of a healthy spine

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Hey Craig,

downloaded and just tried out the video this evening, good stuff! I've got half an idea of trying to do it every day for a month in the evening. Personally i found it very relaxing, kind of like a self massage. I am a bit surprised since in the video if I'm not mistaken you refer to this practice as energizing, but maybe the fact that i did most of it with my eyes closed has something to do with my current state of bliss.

Re. asymmetries, I guess natural ones are to be taken into account, but what about people with (mild, non-clinical) scoliosis or other alterations of the spine? have you got any experience with those?

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Interesting question, possibly a little more in depth than a single post can deal with. For me, relaxing = energizing. As the tissue structures relax, the circulation improves, more blood/oxygen/energy/nutrients/minerals are delivered to every corner of the body, and I now feel like I have more energy in reserves ready to output. If I get sleepy doing this, rather than energized, for me it's a sign that either my nutrition or my sleep is not up to scratch, usually the latter. So I'd take this as a sign to get more sleep each night, or investigate the possibility that the sleep you are getting is not of a high enough quality.

In my opinion, the only time it's a definite "no" to these practises is if there is pain caused by the movements. If this is the case, I usually just adjust the intensity (i.e. make the waves/undulations smaller - sometimes to the point that they are barely visible) until I can do it pain free, then work from there, slowly rebuilding to the full wave over time. All pain free. I've had people with severe spinal injuries work on these waves with really good results, again just being super strict about not working through any pain.

I have a very mild scoliosis myself, the kind caused by muscular imbalances rather than a faulty bone structure, this has done great things to help with it. If Kit sees this, he can perhaps comment on the difference in hypertrophy of my left and right spinal extensors! In my particular case, this is actually the result of some issues in the deep hip, possibly all the way down to the knee on the right side, that have cause compensation patterns for many years. :)

At any rate, the body is asymmetrical (organs), so there will always be a small asymmetry, if there are really big assymetries, I would be interested to see if they are treatable using single sided waves, although I have not had the chance to investigate this myself.

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  • 1 month later...
  • 6 months later...

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT!!!

 

I am going to be leaving Vimeo due to complications that have arisen with their service and shifting to a new (better) platform. 

 

If you have purchased my programs already please make sure you download a copy to keep.  There is a download button on every video. You will have to re-purchase them on the new platform if you do not! Vimeo will remain online until New Years Day.

 

I will post some more details of the new service when I know them myself.

 

Please let me know if you have any questions.

 

Cheers,

Craig

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  • 6 years later...

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