Spine Strategies

Previously in our Intelligent Movement Series, we’ve discussed some of the key benefits of moving our spines, and also how this area of the body relates to Core Training.

Today we’ll look at some key strategies that allow us to overcome tricky situations in rehab and training.image

If somebody has difficulty ‘moving their spine’, we need a coherent thought process to be able to work around the problem and move forwards.

We’ve already touched on the three planes of motion in a previous blog on what it means to improve our movement.

Motion in the various planes is predictable in terms of the knock on effect, or chain reaction it will elicit elsewhere in the body.

We can use the three planes as a language to expand our movement vocabulary, create thoughtful (or meaningful) strategies to obtain a desired result, and also to communicate ideas when we are working with our clients, or other practitioners.

This is a great thought process to manage the space between the structures of the body and ensure the right kind of motion.  Here are a few options we might consider:

 Same direction versus Opposites


When objects collide, it makes a difference whether they’re travelling in different directions, or in the same direction at different speeds.

When we choose a particular movement strategy, this is a variable we can consider in order to progress from a gentle reaction in an area, through to a more challenging movement:

If we want to rotate the spine, we may choose and exercise that moves the hips and shoulders in the same direction- As long as they move different amounts, we can still get the movement we want, and in a gentler way than if we moved our pelvis and shoulders in opposite directions.

Using one plane to effect another


When trying to increase or improve ranges of motion, it sometimes pays not to be too direct.

For example, if extending the upper back aggravates the lumbar spine, we might be better off using the frontal or transverse planes in our attempts to regain the motion above.

Ultimately we will aim to see relative motion (a change in the space between two bones in motion), to get an even distribution of motion throughout the system.

In addition to this, many joints are of a certain shape that gives them coupled motion, and therefore motion in one plane can carry over quite well to the others.

The crescent moon bridge is an example of indirectly moving the spine into extension.

Start motion further away from the Problem


We know that motion has a chain reaction throughout the body, so it’s useful to consider where it should begin.

Since motion will be strongest closer to where it originates, this can be a handy variable to use when there’s pain in a particular area.

A shoulder press matrix will start the chain reaction from the hands, but can still be a good strategy for ankle rehab.. or motions driven from the feet could be a subtle way of effecting the neck or shoulders from a safe distance.

Increase Stability


When our bodies recognise instability they will contain us in a smaller space to keep us safe.

Imagine walking on  winters day and moving from a dry area onto a patch of ice.  Your stride would quickly shorten as a protective measure.

In the context of training strategies, we can give the body extra contact points, such as using the hands on a wall, to add stability in order to give it more freedom elsewhere- perhaps the hip, or foot and ankle.



These are just a few of the strategies we use to keep our bodies familiar with movement in the face of adversity.

At the end of the day we are always looking to improve movement, and when an area of the body is healing, we still want to move it, for the same reason we wanted to move it in the first place.

Many people are apprehensive about returning to exercise after experiencing pain or injury (whether chronic or acute).  At joint Dynamics we pride ourselves on our understanding of movement, and how to apply it to the individual, to rebuild confidence and transition you back to the things you love to do.

Stay tuned for the final part of the Spine Chapter of our Intelligent Movement Series, and check out our Facebook Page to stay up to date with our progress, blogs and Movement of the Week!