Intelligent Spine

One thing we’ve always done well in Health and Fitness is isolation.  Trainers and therapists have learned to pinpoint very small areas of the body for a number of purposes, such as examination, manipulation of joints, or muscle building to name just few things.

Whilst this focus on detail can be very important, there’s a growing appreciation of the fact that we as humans move in an integrated fashion, so it makes sense that our training or rehab strategies should reflect this too.

In terms of a coherent strategy for change, you will often hear people talk about isolating certain areas of the body in order to then integrate them into the system.

We may focus our efforts on a knee or a shoulder, or at least the tissues close to this area as an initial step of rehabilitation, with a view to introducing more global, or full body motions further down the line.

This can be a great strategy, but today we are going to take these 2 areas, isolation and integration, flip them around, and then add an even more important third variable that we believe is often neglected in everything from general ‘fitness training’ to sports performance, to injury rehab.

These three variables will be used in an actionable 3 step process for you to take away, and start building on your spine health.


Step 1- Integrate to Isolate


One way of expanding our movement world is to challenge the end ranges of our joints.

The structure of the spine allows a huge variety of movement combinations, and can be influenced from motion from just about anywhere.  There are therefore a huge variety of end range possibilities.

When we integrate to isolate, we need use complex motions to reflect the spines capabilities and expand the limits of our motion

So we’re not looking to isolate in the sense of moving one joint at a time, but we are looking at choosing positions and movements that ask specific questions of the spine.

We can use the three planes of motion to create variety, and strategies for change.

This spine matrix is a great example of positioning the spine towards end range in one or two planes of motion, and then moving through the remaining planes (integration) in order to encourage new motion in certain areas (isolation).

The choice of pre position will shift the emphasis and when we include certain combinations, makes this a very thorough and effective way to access a huge variety of positions.

Step 2- Strengthen New Ranges of Motion


This step of the process is exactly what it says on the tin.  We are looking to put our new and improved ranges of motion into context at a level of intensity appropriate to the individual in front of us.

The challenges we select for our clients will reflect the complexity of the spine in the same way as step one, but build on them with extra intensity and relevance to the positions and motions they will need to deal with from day to day.

In a previous blog on The Spine and Core training, we talk about how our interactions with the ground can influence the effect on our spine motion.  This is one area we could consider when we choose loaded exercises to build on our new ranges of motion.

Below is an example of how we might challenge the spine after we have INTEGRATED to ISOLATE.



The third and all important step is to prepare the spine to react to outside stimuli.   By using an outside agency to place appropriate demands on the system we bring in the often neglected variable of IMPROVISATION.

Below is a short video of one of our favourite movement games, where we use a partner to create an unpredictable challenge.  Full instructions and explanation are give within the link. ENJOY!!

In short:


MOVE your spine in as many ways as possible
STRENGTHEN and reinforce these movements
PLAY with it!!!

We will be holding MOVEMENT IN THE PARK at 4.30 on Saturday 5th November at Sun Yat Sen Park, where we will be running through some of our favourite spine mobility exercises, as well as a look at the other key movers such as the feet, hips and shoulders.