Home to the nervous system. Without it, you could not survive. All of movement, and all your manifestations of life have origins in the spine. Attached to it are the things many people seem to not want to use these days called the brain. I can write about this for days on end so I’ll try to keep this short, subtract textbook talk and keep this movement related. I do feel the need to tell you that you’ve got 7 cervical vertebrae (neck and shoulders), 12 thoracic vertebrae (back and rib cage), and 5 lumbar vertebrae (low back and pelvis), that of which you do not wanna mess with. Injury to one of these bad boys will light your ass up like your mom’s gona do her house this coming Christmas. Along with a ton of spinal discs that run from underside the back of the skull to deep within the hiney.
Now, you’ve got different branches of the nervous system but we’ll only focus on the parts that get you to rock and roll. So think of it like a very well-organized mob, or mafia. You’ve got the boss, his right hand, and the muscle. When its time to rock, this is how the mob gets down.
The boss says “I think we need to finally make ou’ move, prepare the guys,”. The right hand then says to the crew “the boss wants all a yous ready”. The muscle then puts their leather jackets on and stands firm, gets organized. Right hand reports back to the boss and says “The gang is ready, Hows about you wanna do this, boss?” He then says “Set up a few guys hea’, a few guys thea’, and when I give the signal, that’s about when we fire”. The muscle moves into position, Mr. Right hand keeps an eye out for the boss and gang, the boss gives the signal, right hand sounds the boys, and the boys go to work. Now, if this is, in fact, a well-organized gang, the boys handle business real smooth and they all come back home. If it’s not, one or some of the boys will chicken out, not fire when told, or call it quits and may or may not think about getting back on the streets. Either way, the boys report back to the right hand, who reports back to the boss. And the boss takes some time to reflect upon their past event, if he feels it was successful, everybody’s happy and may even be rewarded. If it wasn’t, the boss makes sure to have the right hand knock off one of the henchman for disobedience or sits the next big play out.
The ultimate goal of this mob, is to be organized, efficient, and work as best as possible. Communication and the ability to successfully expand territory is key. Screw ups WILL have repercussions. Maybe not now, maybe not later, but when you very least expect it.
The boss is your central nervous system, the right hand man your peripheral nervous system, and the guys are your muscles. The CNS coordinates movement and sends the signal for movement to the PNS who then permits muscles to move. The muscles then send information regarding their position, tension and behavior back to PNS who delivers this info to the CNS. From there, it will determine the next best course of action and the process is repeated. Saying that this process happens very often is an understatement. The bad news is that pain and poor movement is a great teacher capable of causing exceptional damage to the CNS, thus decreasing movement efficiency and capacity. It takes very intelligent activity to repair damage to the CNS. And there are other factors non-movement related that can cause equal damage. The good news is that good movement, a lot of it, have significantly higher benefits than bad movements have disadvantages. While you should still perform intelligently, you can discover new ranges of motion, recruit more muscle fibers, make them stronger, and cross-reference external information to discover more efficient physical patterns. Examples of this are high levels of explosive strength, superb agility and speed, coordination, conditioning and adaptions. We refer to those that possess the aforementioned as athletes. You do not need to be an athlete to develop these attributes. However, a good place for all to start is learning how to organize your spine. Here is a picture of proper and improper spinal alignmnent.
A neutral spine is the foundation for full physical potential development. It allows for very successful communication between the movement systems. Practice these steps EVERYDAY for EVERYTHING and take note of any changes.
STEP 1) Ass tight. Prison tight
STEP 2) Belly tight. Like Bruce Lee is going to one inch punch you tight
STEP 3) Head neutral. You car is on a leveled street in neutral and not rolling neutral
STEP 4) Torso Stays Long. Pencil neck long
STEP 5) Remember what this feels like. In any pattern of movement you should always know how to maintain this position. Unless you are purposefully rounding your spine. (Mobilizing, martial arts techniques, evasive/defensive maneuvers).
Some folks have trouble with keeping the belly tight. As it is simple but not easy. A good way to practice holding trunk tension. Stand upright without activating your glutes or trunk. Arch your back somewhat hard to where you feel your lower back rise and chest is pointed to the sky. Squeeze your butt hard as you can without moving your low back arch or chest. Keep squeezing. Now slowly start to tilt your rib cage down. You will notice the more you tilt your rib cage, the harder you can squeeze your butt and abs. When you can no longer tilt your cage downwards, Congratulations! You’ve earned the right to create a “Me Make Spine Neutral” T-shirt.
This is centering your pelvis, and aligning your spine in a neutral position. Readying you for whatever is to come. This will also teach you the difference between sucking your belly in and/or contracting your abs versus creating tension in the trunk. ALL movement can, and generally should be performed from this position. Practice this and I promise a lot of improvement in various aspects of your life will be had. If it doesn’t, please contact me, as I would surely like to understand what you’re experiencing.
Be safe folks,
P.S, See a lot of people squatting and deading heavy loads with their head mega arched and trying look at the ceiling. You are creating an impingement at the cervical spine, compressing your vertebrae, increasing vertebral column stress and decreasing effective sensory output and input in the systems that’s allowing you to even put your head in that position. Does this sound pleasant to you?