The spine is a series of vertebrae connected through layers of connective tissue. Each vertebrae is built to be able to move in all directions independent of the vertebrae above and below it. These individual movements are very small but when we add them all up we get a noticeable change in the shape of the spine. Like any connective tissue in the body, when we do not stress it or move it through it’s full range of motion it begins to stiffen up in places. The t-spine is a common one for desk workers for pretty clear reasons when you consider the posture of most desk workers. Forward head position is another that is becoming more common with the use of iPhones.
Problems present when we have 2 or more vertebrae that lack the ability to move independently of one another. Take our desk-worker with the stiff t-spine; They could have up to 12 vertebrae that cannot move separate from one another, so instead, it moves as one big chunk. If we add load to that same chunking spine, it no longer has 33 vertebrae to displace that load across and instead displaces a disproportionate amount on the vertebrae above and below the t-chunk.
If you know that your spine chunks (and nearly everyone’s does) you can begin to reverse the effects through consistent movement. Our tissues adapt to the stressors applied to them so if we want them to cooperate we need to give them constant input for what we want them to be able to do; Move in all directions. With loads and under high intensity we spend a lot of time working to keep our spine neutral and that is important but it’s not the only way we should ever move. The spine is made to flex, extend, and rotate so it is important that it gets those inputs from us regularly or it will cease to do so.
Here are two of my go-to’s for getting my spine moving throughout the day: Spinal CARs  and spinal segmentation. In each I’m tensing up my entire body, similar to how you would at the start of a heavy back squat, placing all my attention on the movement I’m trying to create, and then executing with control. More specific directions can be found in the videos. These should all be pain-free movements so if you feel any kind of pain, stop and talk to a Coach/PT before proceeding. Find ways to sprinkle these into your day rather than setting aside an allotted amount of time, so that your body gets more regular input. I usually begin the day with a few while the water boils for coffee and do anywhere from 10-30 per day.
Throw some into your daily routine and let us know how it goes in comments!