The Art of Back Bending

Within everyday activities the body is constantly forward bending. Not only do we do it in the routine of class in a Port de bras forward, but we also find ourselves forward over a computer or sitting forward reading the paper over a morning coffee.

Forward bending causes the front of vertebrae move closer together, forcing the inter-vertebral disks and spinal nerves back. Prolonged poor posture can cause or aggravate back and neck pain.

Backbends counteract this constant forward bending, and they can invigorate, uplift and open your body. Several studies show that backbends can stimulate the proper functioning of the digestive system, help preserve the health of the vertebrae and spinal disks, and open the body to deep diaphragmatic breathing.

As you bend backwards you compress the posterior part of your spinal column, pushing your disks away from the spinal nerves and decompress the front of the vertebrae. This effectively counteracts the damage of hours spent forward bending.

Back bending poses place strong demands upon the most vulnerable segment of the spine, the lumbar region.The right support for back bending recruits several muscles in the pelvis, but starts at the deepest layer of the abdominal muscles the transverse abdominals.  The transverse abdominals play a significant active role in stabilizing the trunk of the body for correct completion of the backbending movement.

For dancers in particular, backbends are extremely helpful in increasing the extension of the spine for an improved cambre and arabesque.  

Try these advanced back bending stretches to help increase your spinal mobility:

Make sure your body is warm before trying these poses.

1.  Try Yoga Bow Pose Dhanurasana with your Flexistretcher

  • Lie on your stomach, bend your legs and bring both heels toward your seat. Place the center foam pad around the top of the feet and hold one loop in each hand.
  • Pushing your feet into the strap, lift your thighs off the ground while extending your arms toward the ceiling. Pause.
  • Gently rock forward and back, keeping your head in line with the spine and repeat.
Bow Pose

2. Back extensions with your FLX Ball

3.  Wall walks:  

  • Stand one arms length away from a wall. 
  • Your feet should be wider than the distance between your shoulders.
  • Raise your arms by your ears.
  • Slowly bend your back and look at the wall behind you.
  • Touch the wall with your palms, and walk down the wall until you reach the floor and are in a backbend position.
  • Slowly lower yourself to the ground.  

4.  Bow Pose  

  • Lie on your back
  • Bend your knees up and keep your feet flat on the ground. Make sure to keep your toes, knees and hips in one line creating parallel legs.
  • Place your hands by your ears with palms facing the ground. 
  • Push your body up until only your hands and feet are touching the ground, and your back is arched
  • Once you are up in a bridge, straighten your arms and legs and push your shoulders over your head. Your wrists to your shoulders should form a straight line to the floor.
Rein Short Wheel Pose

Happy Backbending!!