Thursday, April 26, 2007

Inversion, Traction, a Roller, and a Chair


An effective inversion technique can be practiced at home with a simple back roller and a chair. There is an optimal angle for placing the body in an inversion position for the traction and spinal lengthening that can benefit our spine and back. Discover for yourself what that angle may be. A modest, but sufficient, amount of inversion can be attained by simply draping the ends of your legs over a bed or chair and then propping up the hips on a thick cushion or back roller. A roller is preferable because it allows for more freedom and movement of the back as it sinks towards the floor. Try different heights of support for the hips to test what positioning seems most comfortable and delivers some sense of traction and spinal lengthening. Rest for a few minutes or more in this position.

Let gravity work for you. Let gravity (and not any muscular exertion) be the force behind this inversion and traction technique. When we are past 35 or 40 years of age our spines often begin to show the effects of age. Disks dry up and shrink and the vertebrae may start spurring and deforming as gravity and the human posture begin to take their toll. Inversion techniques can give the entire spinal column a gentle stretch with a positive opening effect, a therapeutic expansion, to each vertebral joint and the structures in the joint and surrounding it. Five minutes of inversion and gentle traction can have a powerful effect towards relieving the strain and the back pain that many of us live with in our daily lives.

Feel the stretching and lengthening of the spine as you simply rest into the position and let gravity work for you. You may feel some gentle pulling sensations in those areas of your spine that have become strained and distorted. Surrender to these sensations and allow the therapeutic stretching action and spinal lengthening to occur. Experiment with how high you wish to support the hips and where support is best located. Let your inner body sense, the kinesthetic sense, be your guide in this technique. You may be surprised at how powerful and therapeutic a simple position like this can be.

Support your head on the seat of a chair and use the roller against the middle and lower back. By supporting the head in this way, the spine can remain relatively straight while the roller is manipulating and massaging the middle back. Your own sense of what feels right and what works best should be your guide. Massage the ribs on either side and feel for any sense of ache or tightness. The diaphragm attaches all around the lower rib cage and to the spine in this area. This technique can help free up the diaphragm, our major breathing muscle.

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